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On Staging the Climactic Scenes of the Burlador de Sevilla by John Brooks University of Arizona In many schools, departments and clubs there is an annual public event of more or less traditional nature to which parents and friends are invited.1 At this function the entity concerned seeks to put its best foot forward. The available talent is marshaled and a program prepared. If in addition to being entertaining the program has a serious side and cultural value, so much the better for the cause. In the Comedia ire many magnificent scenes and sequences which can be represented out of their context. Program notes would take care of the necessary explanations . If the play in question has exerted considerable influence abroad, the program notes would make the necessary educational comments. A good word for Spanish is always welcome. The Burlador de Sevilla of Tirso de Molina meets all the necessary requirements. The climatic scenes represent a rather long sequence of events which may be shortened to suit. One may begin anywhere in the sequence and take care of preceding events with program notes. A logical beginning would be in the middle of Act III, Scene X, where don Juan and Catalinón enter the church and find the tomb. The line reads: "¿Qué sepulcro es éste?"2 The tomb will be a large packing case set broadside to the audience and covered with gray cotton flannel, to simulate limestone. It may be open and uncovered at the rear. On the tomb will be the statue on its back, with hands clasped in prayer. With clothing and grease paint it will be of the same color as the tomb. The inscription may be understood to be on the back of the tomb, out of sight of the audience. In the following scenes we begin with the servants setting the table in preparation for the entrance of don Juan and Catalinón. Music for the off-stage chorus may be found in a gay number of the Cancionero Musical de la Casa de Medinoceli.3 The statue will move stiffly and ponderously like the monsters of our contemporary horror films. In Scene XV don Juan betrays in a short soliloquy his inner turmoil and external bravado.4 This scene also prepares us for the close. It is an excellent example, popular in the drama of the day, of a soliloquy in which a character voices his indecisions and doubts and hesitates alternately between conflicting decisions. It should therefore be included . We now pass from Scene XV to Scene XX, which begins with the challenge." "¿Quién va?"5 A short passage will be omitted for ease of presentation. It begins with the speech of don Gonzalo: "Para cenar,/ Es menester que levantes/Esa tumba" and ends with the speech of don Juan: "Tengo brío/Y corazón en Us carnes."6 The statue is standing at the farther end of the tomb as don Juan and Catalinón enter. The tomb will serve as a table, already set very sparingly . The servants who bring on the chair» for don Juan and Catalinón will be all in black from head to foot, including the hands, in a robe reaching to the ground and with hoods covering their faces. They will move stiffly, in order to produce an unearthly effect. When seated, don Juan and Catalinón will be behind the tomb, facing the audience , with don Juan closer to the statue. The latter will remain standing and immobile . The off-stage chorus will sing its new lines in more solemn tones than before. A Gregorian Chant is suggested. Catalinón will stir his food suspiciously, but will not eat. He takes only one small and tentative sip of wine. Don Juan takes one smaii mouthful and that will be when he is twitted by the statue. He is at last quite 11 subdued, with an occasional half-hearted attempt at bravado. As the statue asks for don Juan's hand it will be at a distance from the tomb sufficiently great to permit don Juan to die in full view of the audience. Catalinón retreats in fear to the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 11-12
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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