After the success of last month’s Madrid Is a Female Name cycle of one-woman monologues, the Cervantes Theatre, London’s home of Spanish and Latin American drama, has announced the remainder of its 2019 programme, with women – led by associate director and co-founder Paula Paz – remaining fully centre stage.
The programme, supported by Acción Cultural Española, comprises three distinct seasons – the third New Spanish Playwriting season, the second Contemporary Spanish Theatre season and the inaugural Spanish Golden Age season – and concludes with a major staging of Isabel Allende‘s The House of the Spirits.
Taken together, the programme showcases a full range of plays, from classic masterpieces to modern hits, all of them written by women, all presented in both English and Spanish at this intimate, 88-seater two doors down from the Union Theatre in Southwark, London.
New Spanish Playwriting
With the aim to showcase the newest and most successful Spanish writers, the Cervantes Theatre presents the third New Spanish Playwriting Season. It features a full production of The Reality (La Realidad) and two dramatised readings of On/From Debris (Des de los escombros) and The Old Masters (Los Viejos Maestros).
The Reality (La Realidad)
by Denise Despeyroux, translated by Sarah Maitland
1-18 May, Post-show Q&A Saturday 4 May
Wednesdays & Thursdays in Spanish, Fridays & Saturdays in English
After a successful dramatised reading as part of last year’s New Spanish Playwriting Season II, The Reality, written by renowned Uruguayan-Spanish playwright Denise Despeyroux, now receives a full production. Maite Jáuregui stars, directed by Raymi Renee.
In this play that reflects on identity, family and loss, twin sisters attempt an awkward exercise of pretending to be someone else, taking them close to the line that separates good and evil; the love of life and destruction; lucidity and madness. What do you do to pose as someone inside of you? Can you love the living in the same way that you have love for the dead? Is darkness hindered by light?
On/From Debris (Des de los escombros)
by María Prado, translated by Simon Breden
24 May in Spanish, 25 May in English
I’m young. Well, not so young (at my age my grandmother, my mother had done…). Still, I consider myself young. I try to imagine myself in four or five years’ time. The image is blurry, changing, confused. I talk over and over again to my (still) young friends, obsessing over progress… to where? Because things should get better shouldn’t they? That’s what they taught me. The milkmaid dropping her milk pail in the children’s story hurts me.
The Old Masters (Los Viejos Maestros)
by Eva Hibernia
31 May in Spanish, 1 June in English
Five people, two women and three men, meet at a campsite by the sea. Within 24 hours, everything surfaces, the miracle of love, passion, seduction and the desire for money. Malena and the old man, Professor Boyer, have arrived at the site as a final stop in the shipwreck of their voyage together with the secret aim of selling the site.
Malena’s beauty and magnetism relieve the boredom for Iván and for Miquel, the village doctor. For her part, Sofia, the niece who survived the 11M terrorist attacks, taking refuge in this corner of the world and, in love with the doctor, watches these people search for each other and repel each other in a game in which she can’t participate. Who are these old masters and what can they teach her? What are we ready to risk when life throws us a final opportunity?
Contemporary Spanish Playwriting
The Cervantes opens its doors to some of Spain’s most established and recognised writers working today for its second Contemporary Spanish Playwriting season. The female playwrights featured in this line-up have become beacons of Spanish theatre, some of them writing also for film and television. This season comprises a full production of The Eyes of the Night (Los Ojos de la Noche) and two “rapid production” rehearsed readings of Run! (Corre!) and Stupid People (Gente Estúpida).
The Eyes of the Night (Los Ojos de la Noche)
by Paloma Pedrero, translated by Catherine Boyle
Wednesdays & Thursdays in Spanish, Fridays & Saturdays in English
After a successful dramatised reading as part of last year’s Contemporary Spanish Playwriting Season, The Eyes of the Night is a play written by one of the most important Spanish playwrights of her generation, Paloma Pedrero. This complex and beautiful play reveals the deepest desires and fears of a middle-aged businesswoman who needs to experience the darkness in order to see the light.
Life is full of moments of change that can pop up at any time. An unexpected encounter between an older woman, who supposedly has triumphed in life, and a young blind man who she’s hired to spend a few hours in a hotel room can be the trigger for a new life. Both will have to be able to open up and let themselves go with the flow.
by Yolanda García Serrano
4 October in Spanish, 5 October in English
There are siblings that hurt you, and Kico, who reappears to disturb the life of his only sister Emma, is one of these. Kico, who learnt to run before he could walk. First in front of his mother, later in front of his teachers and much later in front of the police. In contrast, Emma was always a good girl who learnt to protect herself from the disputes that racked her family. Why is it that siblings can be so different?
Stupid People (Gente Estúpida)
by Daniela Fejerman
11 October in Spanish, 12 October in English
Two brothers who argue as to who should care for their lonely mother, a couple who sleep together again after a year of separation, a pregnant policewoman, a British father who aims to pick up his son on his birthday, a desperate man who assaults an off-roader driven by a local dignitary. This is a comedy about stupidity, which knows no economic or social barriers. For there are stupid people in all societies, throughout all ages of all sexes, religions and races. But do we stop to think about this?
Spanish Golden Age Season
Newly introduced this year, the Cervantes is mounting a new season focusing on the Spanish Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries with the aim of introducing lesser-known classics to British audiences.
This year’s ambitious project commences with a reading of Courage, Outrage & Woman by one of the few female playwrights in the Spanish Golden Age, Ana Caro de Mallénthe, in a new translation specially commissioned by the Cervantes Theatre.
Women in the Spanish Golden Age could perform, write and even be owners and managers of their own theatre companies. This highlights the relatively elevated status that women had in Spanish society and the arts at that time and is a notable difference between Spain and England.
Courage, Outrage & Woman (Valor, Agravio y Mujer)
by Ana Caro, translated by Catherine Boyle
18 October in Spanish, 19 October in English
Ana Caro de Mallénthe was a renowned poet and playwright and her career took off in 1628 when she published poetry as well as studies on festivals and cultural activities. However, there’s little to no documentation of her poetry or research-based studies. Her career as a playwright began later in life, in the 1640s. She was the author of two religious plays as well as a number of entremeses. Only two of Caro’s full-length plays are known today, Valor, Agravio y Mujer and El Conde Partinuplés. Each of these full-length plays were published after her death, between 1680 and 1700.
In Courage, Outrage & Woman, the heroine Leonor has been abandoned by her lover Juan. She disguises herself as a man in order to challenge him with the hope of restoring her lost honour through his death. Following him over the seas, she becomes caught in a love triangle (courting, as a man, her rival Estela) and successfully manipulates everybody she meets.
The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende, adapted by Caridad Svich
Dates to be confirmed
The Cervantes Theatre’s 2019 programme will conclude with a full-scale stage adaptation of Chilean writer Isabel Allende‘s much-loved debut novel The House of the Spirits. Since its publication in 1982, the book has been translated into more than 37 languages, won myriad awards and been made into the1993 Hollywood film starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Winona Ryder, Glenn Close and Antonio Banderas.
Covering a span of 45 years, The House of the Spirits centres on the del Valle family. Youngest daughter Clara has paranormal powers and keeps a detailed diary of her life. Using her powers, she predicts an accidental death in the family.