The Don Juan myth is something that lives in our cultural consciousness and has been told over the centuries: from Tirso de Molina, to Moliere, to Don Giovanni to the modern day “player”. But this story of a “fickle man,” who seduces women and then betrays them has only ever been told from the perspective of men. Now it’s time to switch it up. Ana Caro reinvigorates this myth with a feminine voice and reframes it as the woman’s quest for justice rather than the man’s confrontation with his sins. Full of confessions of love, mistaken identities, and quests for justice, Valor, agravio y mujer explores what it means to seek justice in a world that says you cannot have it.
I’ve always been interested in the classics. I first fell in love with directing through working on Shakespeare. But doing a classic show in the studio never felt doable. I was interested in translation and spanish language in performance, and the Spanish Golden Age felt unattainable, impossible to explore with the little training that I had. And then 2020 happened. My plans for my senior year and my thesis fell apart, and I needed to find a new line of research. That is when I started to dig deeper into this body of work. I stumbled upon a new anthology of Spanish Golden Age work and the name Ana Caro popped out amongst the Lope de Vega’s and Calderon de la Barca’s. At first I couldn’t believe that I was reading a woman’s name. I found out it was a real thing and that she had two extant plays and I pursue these plays and the research around her work feverently. The more I discovered, the more urgent it felt to work on one of her plays and bring it to an audience in some way, shape, or form right now.
Why hadn’t I heard about her? How did no one know around me know that there was a large body of classic works written by women in Spain? How had this been lost throughout the years? Ana Caro was a very popular playwright in her time, with many records of her shows being put on, but why did only two of her plays exist? How had she been erased from our narrative of the Golden Age until the past 20-30 years? The most recent biography of hers, written in 2017 by Juana Escabais, uncovered her death records, which showed that she died of the plague in an epidemic in Seville in the 1640s. In the customs of the time, all of her belongings, including all of her unpublished works, were burned to get rid of the disease. It’s impossible not to see the parallels to today and the timeliness of her work. We are all realizing the horrible effects disease can have on human populations and those who are marginalized in our society. Given this discovery, it felt even more important to bring this voice that was taken away from us by disease to life in a time where disease is taking so much from us again.
But then I was faced with the question of what it meant to do this show in the 21st century virtually to an english speaking audience. What does it mean to translate a Spanish Golden Age play written by a woman? What does it mean to translate a show into the virtual space? How do we find the voice of someone who was an exception in her time? These are questions that have guided my quest and I continue to ask myself. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that Ana Caro could have never imagined that 400 years after she put pen to paper that a team led by women would be reading her words in english on a thing called Zoom that exists on computers on the internet. So we can’t be precious. We have to tell the story we want to tell with the way we interpret the words she has given us. And that is all we can do. Zoom has become the way that we are doing theatre right now, for better or for worse. Metatheatricality was a huge theme in the Golden Age and within this work. Ana Caro manipulated the theatrical conventions of her time to not only tell the story but to comment on the way it was told. In that spirit, I felt an obligation to take advantage of this new way that we are making theatre. It felt like a disservice to the spirit of the text to try to make the Zoom disappear and pretend that we were in the same room together. Because we aren’t. And we cannot ignore that fact.
When the world fell apart, I was faced with many decisions. But while many doors were closing, a couple were opening, and they have led me down the path to where I am now. This time has been all about finding the joy in what we can, and this production is the fruit of that quest for joy. I have learned so much about what matters to me in my work, how to work collaboratively with a team in ways that I never imagined, and how important it is to always love what you do. I am eternally grateful to every single person in the cast and the crew that went on this journey of joy with me. All I did was ask questions. They answered every single one fully and excitedly. This thing that we have made was not created by me. It was created by them. I hope that you find a little joy and maybe learn something in the next 2 hours as you watch us galavant across your screen and take inspiration from the Lion King 1 ½.
“Tanto, que aun quieren poetizar las mujeres, y se atreven a escribir comedias ya/
Even women want to write poetry and dare to write plays.”
-Ribete, 1167-1170, Valor, agravio y mujer by Ana Caro
With all of the love and joy that can possibly be sent across the Zoom-isphere,
- Sofia Ubilla, Director
CAST AND CREW
Directed by: Sofia Ubilla
Scenic Designer: Katie Heaton
Costume Designer: Sloan Mulloy and Caeleigh Lillis
Lighting Designer: Vittoria Orlando
Sound Designer: Amelia Way
Stage Manager: Alden Kennedy
Assistant Director: Michelina Smith
Editor: Ryan Shearin
Assistant Stage Manager: Julia Walker