Make The Connection

Theory-to-Practice Grant, ‘Spanish Classical Theater and its Relevance to Contemporary Society’

February 12, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Chris MacDonald ’16 (left) and Lissette Gonzalez ’17 traveled to Spain with faculty member Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas to study the relevance of Spanish Classical theater today, including the economic impact of the International Festival of Classical Theater.

Name: Chris MacDonald ’16

Majors: Spanish and Theatre

Hometown: Valencia, California

Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Spanish Classical Theater and its Relevance to Contemporary Society”

MacDonald and Lissette Gonzalez traveled to Spain with Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., assistant professor of Spanish, in summer 2015 to examine how Spanish Classical plays are adapted and produced for contemporary audiences and how the International Festival of Classical Theater in Almagro is able to maintain a theatrical tradition that contributes to the town’s economic, social, and cultural change.

Lessons Learned: “We went to Spain – Almagro, Toledo, and Madrid – wanting to experience and verify the positive impact and immense success of International Festival of Classical Theater in Almagro. We had the privilege to interview everyone from local theatre-goers, to actors, festival workers, and even the director of the most important theatre in Toledo (Teatro de Rojas) to help us in our research and in getting a wide range of opinions and facts.

“As researched, we were able to verify that since the first summer of the theatre festival in 1978 – Almagro has seen nothing but positive outcomes: socially, economically, and touristically. The town of only 9,000 citizens has become the second most-visited town in the entire Spanish region of Castilla y León, with approximately 60,000 visitors every summer alone from all over the world. …

“[E]very summer, the festival additionally manages to provide a large amount of jobs, particularly for young adults wanting to work in the summer. For theatre to yearly be the driving force for an entire town to flourish is an incredibly refreshing and invigorating experience, which I can only hope will inspire more cities, big or small, all over the world to explore the immense possibilities [of] theatre. …

“This Theory to Practice Grant has impacted me in so many wonderful ways it’s hard to find words to describe it all. As a double major in both Spanish and Theatre, this festival was the perfect combination of two of my biggest passions. …

“As a theatre major, our society is constantly reminding me that I'm majoring in a ‘dying’ field. … But luckily there are always exciting new directions, opportunities, and events that prove theatre is not dead and, in fact, is just getting warmed up. And that's exactly what the Almagro theatre festival has continuously proven. …

“To have the opportunity to attend this fantastic festival and see some of the best theatre in Spain, as well as personally witness how Almagro has managed to thrive thanks to theatre, was truly humbling and inspiring for me.

“The festival in Almagro is proof that – regardless of the time period, the age or generation of the patrons, the text being performed, or the location – there is and will always be a strong desire to go to the theatre. To be captivated by live performances, to sit on the edge of your seat, to laugh at old humor or contemporary interpretations, to see the craftsmanship of beautiful sets and costumes, and to stand up at the end of each performance clapping profusely and chanting ‘bravo, bravo!’”