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MENTIDERO EL CHAMIZAL, 1997 The twenty-second Golden Age Drama Festival was sponsored by the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, from February 28 through March 8,1997, and was applauded by multi-national audiences which usually filled the theatre to capacity for nine evenings. The performances demonstrated a uniform range of professionalism which was competent enough that all except the most demanding members of the audience were pleased with what they had seen. A very good innovation in the overall programming ofthe festival this year were the briefintroductions to the playwrights for the sake ofthe majority of spectators who were unfamiliar with the tradition ofthe Golden Age theater. The introductions invariably involved the general audience in the work they were about to see and consequently held the newer spectators' attention to the very last scene. The group Crisol-Bufons from Chimayo, New Mexico, began the festival with two consecutive performances of a very free adaption of Tirso de Molina's La prudencia en la mujer which they entitled Rey y trovador. The strange irony of an artless queen impoverished by the greed of her courtiers who succeeds through awkward musical entertainments to win their respect -or perhaps it was their fear of the gracioso executioner eager to continue work— created a strangely moving evening of entertainment. The group performed several Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso X "el Sabio" on thirteenth-century instruments once their queen had regained their loyalty. The power of hunger was amply dramatized for the audience in the halting speech and inability to concentrate of the hapless queen and her unwashed troubadour. The rapport this group established with the audience was immediate and continued throughout the week as they performed for spectators waiting for each performance. Victor Castillo's direction of the University of Guadalajara's theatre group in Lope de Vega's El castigo sin venganza moved the audience pro727 722BCom, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Summer 1997) foundry. The focus ofthis production was on Casandra and her step-son and lover, Federico, whose tragic dilemma, expressed in his reply "We must die," to the anagnorisis implicit in Casandra's question of what they are to do, froze the audience, in fear for the lovers' inevitable doom, and in pity for their helplessness in resisting the forces that brought them to one another 's arms. Fortunate, indeed, was the audience at the Festival this year to see a second production ofthe same play by the theater group from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez under the direction of Paco Portes. Paco Portes has performed at the Chamizal with companies from Madrid on several occasions . His staging, which utilized an ever-present and usually motionless chorus of a dozen palace guards, provided an ominous sense of inevitable tragedy which contrasted with the gracefulness of the set. The set was marked, nevertheless, with the blood ofprevious slaughters. In the Spanish director's production, the focus burns mercilessly on the anguish of the Duke as he struggles with the knowledge of his new bride's affair with his son. The two complementary performances of Lope's tragedy were kept separate by José Sanchis Simisterra's adaptation of several entremeses by Agustín de Rojas entitled Ñaque o piojos de actores directed by Alejandro Velis and performed by multi-talented actors from the Bojiganga Company ofMexico City. The adaptation brought to the attention ofan entranced audience the unsettling realization oftwo players from the seventeenth century that, despite their exhausting efforts to entertain an always changing and ever new audience, nothing that they did would likely be remembered for more than a few hours. That certainly will not be the case with the audience which saw Isaac Benabu's production of Calderón's The Physician ofhis Honor performed in English by the Theatre Company of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee . The implacable honor code which ruled the lives of the most powerful men at the Spanish court in the seventeenth century, including the king himself, palpably impressed itself upon the audience who witnessed the anguish ofa husband and of a king compelled to enforce that code even though it meant the martyrdom of an innocent...


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