The Spanish comedia is an innovative type of drama that attracted large and socially diverse audiences to the theaters of 17th-century Spain. Its universal topics – the effects of power, honor and love, among others – made this genre very popular and are still applicable to us today.
Following the tradition of keeping the Spanish comedia alive, students in assistant professor Dr. Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas’ Spanish 369 honors course, adapted and produced scenes from plays written by renowned playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age.
This project was designed to promote students’ understanding of the analysis, adaptation and performance of the Spanish comedia. Throughout the semester, students worked in groups that they called familias(“families” in Spanish). Each familia was assigned a different comedia from the ones discussed in class:The Trickster of Seville (Tirso de Molina), Life is a Dream (Pedro Calderón de la Barca), The Dog in the Manger, or The Foolish Girl (Lope de Vega). Students abridged the three-act plays into shorter versions for a 15-minute performance. After adapting the scripts, they learned their parts and rehearsed for the final show. At the end of the semester, they performed their adaptations before a large audience from the OWU community.
Quotes from Students Involved in the Project
“Working on this project was a great learning experience for me. It was definitely an amazing exercise in language acquisition; I became so much more confident in my vocabulary and pronunciation. This project gave me a deeper understating of all of the works that we read in class. Performing what we read helped me understand these works more deeply than I ever could have otherwise. Seeing these work performed live with my own two eyes, made them so much more relevant to me […] seeing all the people who came to see us was also really rewarding. Now that it’s all done, I feel like we worked really hard and accomplished something to be proud of. I know I will never forget this project, and it will be something I’ll look back on fondly!”
“I found it really powerful that we performed plays in the same manner that people would have performed them during the Golden Age […] After performing I was amazed at how great I felt! I felt more confident with the course content (Spanish Golden Age Theater) but I also felt as if I had experienced personal growth. I made strides in the areas of public speaking and collaborating with others. Overall, I think this experience was fun, informative, and allowed for the accomplishment of curricular and personal goals. I had a great time and will miss the class in the coming semester!”
“In terms of understanding the [Spanish] comedia and the educational aspect, the project was immensely helpful. Understanding having to play multiple roles as well as quick changes in costumes gave me a better sense of the inner-workings of a comedia during the early modern period in Spain […] The process, although not identical, was in some ways similar to that of an actual [theater] troupe from that time. In addition, bringing to life the play and its nuances in our own adaptation brought new meaning to a number of lines as well as the themes and concepts we studied in class about our particular comedias.”
“I learned more than just our comedia’s plot and my character’s lines. I felt as though I have a better understanding of the underlying message of the comedia as well as the emotion put into the writing. I did not understand the emotion until we had started performing […] Reading plays in the Spanish language was like getting a glimpse of the human nature that we all know from a different perspective, therefore being able to understand humanity a little better.”