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Religious and Secular Theater in Golden Age Spain

Essays in Honor of Donald T. Dietz


Edited By Susan Paun de García and Donald R. Larson

The essays in this book honor the seminal contributions to the field of early modern Spanish drama of Donald T. Dietz, who has devoted his career to the promotion of classical theater, not just as dramatic poetry but as vibrant performance art. Written by a variety of respected scholars and never before published, the twenty-two essays, organized into six sections, present a wide variety of interests, approaches, and methodologies, including ideological and theological exegesis, poetic analysis, cultural studies, and semiotics of theater. The first section reviews Dietz’s impact on the field of Comedia studies, where he played a critical role in moving the discussion from page to stage. The next two sections explore facets of religious theater, including autos sacramentales and comedias de santos, as well as religious aspects of secular theater. Essays from the other sections explore questions of reading and of staging classical theater, in the original Spanish, in English translation, and in adaptation for the stage and for radio, as well as theoretical and practical approaches to the pedagogy of performance. Specialists and students within and across many disciplines—theater history, comparative performance studies, literary studies—will find this collection both useful and illuminating.

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Changing for the Better, or Worse: Adapting Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (Edward H. Friedman)



Changing for the Better, or Worse

Adapting Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

Edward H. Friedman

Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (c. 1581–1639) was a Mexican-born playwright who exercised his craft in Spain. He was a contemporary and a member of the “school” of Lope de Vega. His twenty-three plays are recognized for their range of topics, skillful plotting, and characterization. Some critics emphasize an adherence to strict moral standards in the comedias.1 Ruiz de Alarcón’s most celebrated work is La verdad sospechosa, published in 1634, a comedy about an inveterate liar and his (in the long run, unsuccessful) strategies for choosing a bride. The play serves as the basis for Pierre Corneille’s Le Menteur (1643), which, in turn, is the source of David Ives’s The Liar (2011). My own play, Trading Up, published in 2015, is an adaption of another of Ruiz de Alarcón’s comedias, Mudarse por mejorarse (1628). The protagonist is a man who courts an attractive widow for two years until her niece, freshly arrived in Madrid, inspires him to seek the young lady’s attentions as a means of bettering his lot. The play traces his dual, and duplicitous, mission. This essay looks at an adaptation as a reading and revision of the original text, and it explores the element of “updating” as a consideration in the reception of a classical work by a contemporary audience. In all instances of adaptation, the original play pushes the...

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