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FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE TEATRO CLÁSICO DE ALMAGRO, 2004 The 27m annual Festival Internacional de Teatro Clásico de Almagro was held from July 1 to July 25, 2004. As has become the tradition with the Almagro festival, the year's line-up ofevents included an astonishing array of opportunities to experience, learn about, and enjoy classical theatre , particularly the theatre of Spain. Apart from performances by a number ofveteran companies (many with star-studded casts), the Festival also offered Almagro's visitors and residents the chance to see performances by more experimental groups, to enjoy lively street theatre, to attend exhibits, workshops, and conferences related to classical theatre, and to interact with performers and directors in a series of events such as the encuentros. Youngsters could take advantage of performances designed especially with them in mind, thanks to a teatro infantil series that has become an important part of the Festival. On some days, Festival-goers could choose from among performances of at least seven different plays, in addition to the other related events. This high-caliber celebration of classical theatre drew to Almagro an extremely diverse array of international artists of film and stage, scholars, students, regional and national politicians, sitting side by side with local almágrenos. Despite some brief episodes ofinclement weather, the Festival events seemed to go offwithout a hitch, for which Festival Director Dr. Luciano Garcia Lorenzo and his team deserve hearty congratulations. For logistical reasons, it would be nearly impossible to attend every one of the performances during the Festival, but I had the privilege of attending almost a dozen ticketed events, as well as several ofthe Teatro de la Calle performances. Don Quijote, version de cámara para cinco voces was performed at Almagro's famous Corral de Comedias, under the direction of F. Javier Lozano de Castro, and using a masterfully-done 185 186BCom, Vol. 57, No. 1 (2005) adaptation by Felipe B. Pedraza. Pedraza's version, although clearly very abridged, took audiences through the highlights of both Books 1 and 2, and stayed true to the spirit of the original text. Each of the five superb actors who took part in this dramatic reading brought the characters to life, and of particular note is the well-known actor Agustín González, who played the role ofDon Quijote convincingly and with conviction (so much so that he occasionally bumped into the microphone stand with his sweeping gestures). The actors' timing was impeccable, and the comfortable rapport among the cast translated into an electrifying performance. Audience members interrupted the dialogue often with much laughter and applause. Although this performance was a dramatic reading rather than a play, it harked back to the oral tradition present in Cervantes's Spain, and which a number of scholars have studied. Lope de Vega's El Rufián Castrucho served as the basis for Laila Ripoll's version titled simply Castrucho. This play had a two-night ran, and offered a lively performance by a hard-working team of versatile actors. Ripoll chose the cabaret as the setting for her version, and incorporated puppetry, burlesque dancing, and other sorts of vaudeville acts, such as playing the harmonica by nose! It was a visually-stunning production that included spectacular costumes, interesting lighting effects, and numerous "up close" encounters with the performers as they broke down the barriers between stage and audience. Particularly worthy of mention are the many pieces of original music that added to the play's ambience. The leading female role, Fortuna de Plata, required actress Julie Martinez sometimes to play a ditzy, clueless blonde, and other times a sultry, wise woman of the world. Ms. Martinez carried out the duality of her role beautifully. Ripoll seemed determined to push the envelope at all times, and incorporated overt scenes of gender bending, lesbianism, masturbation, cocaine sniffing, a semi-nude scene, politically-charged symbols, etc. Just as Lope often pushed the bounds of propriety in order to please his seventeenth-century public, Ripoll tried unfailingly to shock, excite, and entertain her twenty-first-century audience. She demonstrated that she knew the "classical Lopean text" well enough to depart from it with confidence, and create a...


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