With original translations and music, Ohio Wesleyan students have adapted classic Spanish romances in a shadow puppet performance. The show will debut online Nov. 1. (Photo by Glenda Nieto-Cuebas)

‘Medieval Ballads in Miniature’

Ohio Wesleyan Uses Shadow Puppets in Adaptations of Classic Spanish Romances

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University students have adapted medieval Spanish romances with new translations, fresh music, and shadow puppets to give the classic stories modern-day meaning.

The students will debut their creation, “Medieval Ballads in Miniature: Shadow of Myself,” at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 1 followed by a question-and-answer session. Both events will be held online with access at owu.edu/medievalballads. Afterward, the production will be available for on-demand viewing from Nov. 2 through Nov. 30 at owu.edu/stream.

“Medieval Ballads in Miniature” features an original translation, adaptation, and performance by senior Hannah Treadway, a Spanish and Music double-major from Tiffin, Ohio, along with new music by senior Noah Green, a music composition major from Granville, Ohio.

The show is directed by Paula Rodríguez, a Spanish actress based in London who defines herself as a “classical theatre re-maker and a multidisciplinary storyteller.” The project, part of a student internship, was supervised and produced by Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., an OWU associate professor of Modern Foreign Languages.

In explaining “Medieval Ballads in Miniature,” Treadway states: “The production explores the worlds created by beloved Spanish romances Abenámar and La Doncella Guerrera through a modern lens. …

“Through the voice of a single narrator, the audience is transported to what we now know as Spain in the Middle Ages,” she states. “Textual themes of duality, courage, patriarchy, and heritage are represented musically by leitmotifs, recurring musical phrases or themes that denote a particular character, location, or idea, and by the silhouettes of the puppets themselves.”

Director Rodríguez said it has been an honor working with the “extremely talented” Ohio Wesleyan ensemble.

“As a team we worked very hard for weeks, the process was very intuitive and grounded,” she said. “Translation is always almost impossible but guiding Hannah in the process was incredibly easy. She completely succeeded on my very demanding task of keeping a sense of the original Spanish meter while making these texts more personal and, at the same time, more relevant for modern audiences.

“Noah has brought his wonderful expertise and sensitivity taking the project to the next level by composing the perfect music for it,” Rodríguez said. “Professor Nieto led us and made it happen. I cannot express how grateful I am to Glenda for trusting me to artistically direct this piece.”

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages at owu.edu/mfl and more about the “Medieval Ballads in Miniature” production at owu.edu/medievalballads.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more undergraduate majors than many universities its size and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature program, The OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at owu.edu.