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Play time at Notre Dame

Observer Scene | Friday, April 2, 2004

Foreign Language plays this weekend

Looking for something to do this weekend? Looking for culture? Looking for an exciting challenge? Looking for a good comedy instead of watching the same cheesy movie again, which you have memorized and quote often? Well look no further; the Department of Romance Languages is sponsoring two foreign language plays this weekend, in Italian and in Spanish, which offer enough intrigue, romance and scandal to entertain even the toughest critic for at least an hour or two.

Una Noche De Cervantes/ A Night of Cervantes

The Romance Languages department, with a grant from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, is presenting two plays in Spanish this weekend – “El retablo de las maravillas and El viejo celoso.” These comedies, both written by Miguel de Cervantes, were originally designed to be entremeses, short comedic plays performed during the intermission of a tragedy to lighten the mood.

Other than the fact that these plays are being presented independently of a larger tragedy, both plays stay very close to the spirit of the text. They are performed in the same 16th century Spanish that Cervantes wrote them in with costumes reminiscent of the time. While the Spanish is somewhat difficult to understand, even to an experienced speaker, the plot synopsis that is provided for these plays is not difficult to understand. Although the plays were written centuries ago, they deal with issues modern viewers readily understand.

“El retablo de las maravillas” tells a story of two traveling “actors” who earn a living by scamming the towns they visit in various ways. These scam artists, Chanfalla and Chirinos, and their newly acquired musician Rabelin, present a play to a village. Their play leaves the town in confusion and the swindlers hiding and gloating. “El retablo” teaches a lesson similar to that of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

El viejo celoso tells a story with the classic themes of love and lust. The young bride Lorenza is married to Cañizares, a very old, very protective husband who wants nothing but to be taken care of by his wife. Lorenda, however, is not so innocent, and is very upset that her marriage is not what it should be. She conspires with her neighbor and her maid to bring a young man into the house for companionship, and to taunt her husband.

Professor Kelly Kingsbury directs these plays as part of a two-credit class. “I advertised the plays through posters, and then held auditions in late January” said Kingsbury of the plays.

Students from all levels may enroll in this class, and this year they range from students with one semester of Intensive Spanish to a student who speaks Spanish as her first language. The acting is commendable, although at times it seems that more effort is going into the language than the acting.

The ideas for the plays came partly as an inspiration from seeing her current roommate and office mate work on the Italian play, also being presented this weekend.

“El retablo de las maravillas” and “El viejo celoso” will be showing in the Jordan Auditorium of the Business School this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30p.m. Tickets are $5 per person ($4 for members of the Spanish club), and are available at the Department of Romance Languages office in 343 O’Shaughnessy Hall and at the door.

Non tutti i laddri vengono per nuocere

This weekend the Department of Romance Languages’ Italian Theater Project will present Dario Fo’s “Non tutti i ladri vengono per nuocere” in Italian. The play is directed by Professor Laura Colangelo, the third year in a row she has directed an Italian play through the department. This play is an extension of her senior thesis while an undergraduate here at Notre Dame. Colangelo directed an Italian play for her honors senior thesis as a student of Professor Colleen Ryan, and has continued with these plays since her graduation in 2002.

“Non tutti I ladri vengono per nuocere,” a relatively new work set in Italy in the 1960s is a farce, which tells the story of love, lust, confusion, robbery and three couples’ entanglement in a web of lies.

Interest in the play, both in acting and attendance, has skyrocketed. This year there are two groups of actors due to a high interest level in students. Each group will present two of the four total performances.

The students involved in this play are enrolled in a two-credit class. Auditions were held in late November/early December, but work on the play did not begin until this semester. Students of all levels have had the chance to be in or work on the play — from people who have had only two semesters of Italian to Italian majors.

Most of the actors in the play not only speak Italian well, but also act well, bringing the characters to life.

Fo’s play is sure to be enjoyable to all, despite one’s language background. While acted in Italian, an English synopsis will be given in the program, and the acting should make it understandable.

“Non tutti i laddri vengono per nuocere” will be showing in the Washington Hall lab Theater this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. There will also be afternoon performances Saturday at 2:00om and Sunday at 3:00pm. Tickets are $5 per person and are available at the Department of Romance Languages office in 343 O’Shaughnessy Hall and at the door.