It’s a knight on the border in ‘Quixote Nuevo’ at Cal Shakes

Playwright Octavio Solis during rehearsals for 'Quixote Nuevo' at the East Bay's California Shakespeare Theater. (Photo by L. Herrada-RIos)

Often considered the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’ 1605 Spanish classic, “Don Quixote,” is a picaresque comedic epic in which a deluded old man who’s read way too many chivalric romances suddenly believes himself to be a medieval knight — and sets out on one mishap-plagued adventure after another.

The world premiere “Quixote Nuevo” that opens California Shakespeare Theater’s season has had an epic journey of its own.

Playwright Octavio Solis during rehearsals for ‘Quixote Nuevo’ at the East Bay’s California Shakespeare Theater. (Photo by L. Herrada-RIos)

This is actually the third time that playwright Octavio Solis has adapted “Quixote.” A longtime San Franciscan who now lives in Oregon (and who adapted John Steinbeck’s “The Pastures of Heaven” for Cal Shakes in 2010), Solis was first commissioned to adapt the novel for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009.

“I did a straight-up adaptation, a costume drama that they did in the outdoor theater,” Solis says. “I think we had 26 actors onstage, 32 puppets, something like that. It was massive. But they asked me to think big, and so I did. And it was fun, it sold well, audiences loved it, and then I shelved it. I said I think I’m done with that.”

Not so fast. Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.

“Shakespeare Dallas had been looking for an adaptation,” Solis recalls. “They got hold of mine and said they wanted to do that. But they said, ‘Can you Texas-ize it? Can you update it, set it in Texas, make it more relevant to the people here, put a lot more Spanish in it?’ I did, and I didn’t change any of the storyline. I just updated the language. The premise of it was Cervantes thinking, what if my character could live in today’s world? That was an interesting conceit, but it still seemed elusive to me. It did OK, but I wasn’t very pleased with it. And then I really thought that’s it, I’m done.”

That’s when Cal Shakes’ new artistic director came calling.

“Eric Ting called and said, ‘You have a “Don Quixote” that really appeals to me, and I think your updating is working well, but I want you to interrogate those choices a little deeper and really, really make the work yours. Really think about wresting the book from the clutches of Cervantes and Spain and let it speak to you as a Mexican-American in this

Source:: Usa news site – Culture


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