Make The Connection

September 5, 2023

During their OWU Connection grant-supported trip to Spain, Ohio Wesleyan students Elizabeth Sumoza ’25 (left) and Katherine DiJulius ’24 sit where crowds would have watched Ancient Roman gladiator fights. (Photo by Elizabeth Sumoza)

Bishops of Seville

Ohio Wesleyan Students, Professors Study Theatre in Southern Spain

By Cole Hatcher

Name: Elizabeth Sumoza ’25
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
High School: Chicago Waldorf School
Majors: Theatre and Sociology and Anthropology
Minors: History and Spanish
OWU Connection Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant to explore “Ethnicity and Classical Reception on the Contemporary Hispanic Stage”

OWU faculty member Hank Blume gives historical context to Katherine DiJulius ’24 during a visit to an Ancient Roman amphitheater. (Photo by Elizabeth Sumoza)

Sumoza and Katherine DiJulius ’24 of Strongsville, Ohio, traveled to Spain over the summer with Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., professor of World Languages and Cultures, and Hank Blume, Ph.D., assistant professor of Classics, to study the relevance of Greek and Roman drama on the contemporary Hispanic stage. The group’s work included exploring how the archeological ensemble of Merida, Spain, has been used to preserve ancient theatrical traditions that remain popular among international audiences.

Of traveling and learning with her professors, Sumoza said: “They’re both incredible people who are passionate about theatre, classics, and history, so it was really fun to have this experience with them. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same with anyone else. We had so many deep conversations about what we saw, and they both have their own knowledge that they bring to the table that allowed us to make connections we hadn’t thought about before.”

Why I Chose This Experience

“As a Latina, Spain is part of my ancestral story, so I was really excited about the idea that I could go see it in person. I was also excited to be able to see theatrical productions there, especially with them being in Spanish. All of the theatre that I’ve been involved in at school has understandably only been in English, so it was really cool to see more plays in the other language that I use to interact with the world around me.”

Elizabeth Sumoza ’25 visits the throne room of the Royal Alcazár, or al-Qasr al-Muriq, in Seville, Spain, and poses with a traditional Spanish fan. (Photo by Elizabeth Sumoza)

My Favorite Moment

“We went to an ancient Roman city called Itálica, and it was incredible to see such a big, well-preserved area that used to be used completely differently than it is now. We had a lot of conversations during our visits to ruins about how cool it is to visit what, to us, is now just beautiful-looking rocks, but to an entire community of people in the past used to carry such cultural significance. We saw what used to be a bakery attached to a home that a wealthy family lived in, and it was amazing to imagine that life was once lived so fully in an area that now functions as a tourist attraction.”

Lessons Learned

“In my classes with Profesora Nieto, we’ve read a lot of Golden Age Spanish works and talked about the structure of the comedias that were written, but going to Spain, I actually got to see a real corral where those comedias would have been performed, we had a workshop where we talked about how the rhythm of the comedias corresponds with the rhythm to flamenco dancing, and we got to watch performances of a Lope de Vega play and a Cervantes story. At the beginning of our trip, we also got to see where Cervantes lived and grew up, which was amazing.

“Spain has so much history randomly living throughout all of the metropolitan areas, and it was really interesting to see how the past comes to life there and lives beside the present. It lent a lot of empathy and realness to stories of the past that I’ve heard.”

My Campus Involvements

“I am a member of Theta Alpha Phi, the Theatre honor society on campus.”

I was attracted to OWU through the OWU Connection and the amazing travel opportunities it offers for little to no cost. … I’ve been really grateful to be a part of so many life-changing experiences like this.

Elizabeth Sumoza ’25

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“For opportunities like these! I was attracted to OWU through the OWU Connection and the amazing travel opportunities it offers for little to no cost. As someone who really can’t afford to travel like this normally, I’ve been really grateful to be a part of so many life-changing experiences like this.

“I work three jobs while being a full-time student, and these trips have provided me with the motivation to keep working hard. They make me excited to pursue all sorts of career opportunities after I graduate because I’ve learned that I am much more capable of great things than I originally thought.”

My Plans After Graduation

“As of right now, I really want to become an actor. I intend to keep one of the jobs that I currently have after graduation so that I have a source of income while I audition for any play or movie or TV show that I can. Part of the auditions that I hope to do are for some of the theater companies that we saw in Spain.”