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Bulletin of the Comediantes • 2008 Vol.60 No.1 159 Chamizal 2007_____________________________________________________________ Chamizal 2007 A. Robert Lauer University of Oklahoma The XXXII Siglo de Oro Drama Festival began its annual season at the Chamizal National Memorial Auditorium (800 S. San Marcial / El Paso, Texas 79905 / USA) on Wednesday, 28 February 2007, and continued through Sunday, 4 March 2007. The first of five scheduled works was Guillén de Castro y Bellvis’s El Narciso en su opinión (The Self-Styled Narcissus), performed by Brigham Young University, under the direction of Anna-Lisa Halling. This is the first time that this work, originally printed in Valencia in 1625, has been shown at the Chamizal. Its author, Guillén de Castro (1569-1630), although an important figure in Golden Age Spain, known mostly for his rendition of the Cid character later adapted by Pierre Corneille’s Le Cid, has not been staged at the Chamizal, at least not in the new millennium. This is indeed a shame. Drs. Dale Pratt and Valerie Hegstrom, of BYU Golden Age Theater, are to be commended for bringing Guillén de Castro’s very funny play to the attention of the El Paso, TX, USA, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, audiences. The Narciso work has many points in contact with other more familiar plays dealing with dandies like Agustín Moreto y Cabaña’s El lindo don Diego.Texas and Chihuahua audiences might recall that this last work brought the house down in 1991 and 1995, when it was staged at the Chamizal by the memorable actor and director Francisco (“Paco”) Portes. El Narciso en su opinión is a mild comedy of manners that seems to chastise metrosexual excesses in Baroque Spain. Concern for external appearances at the expense of internal virtues would seem to be an appropriate and timely preoccupation then as well as now. There is, hence, an ethical component to this work that would connect it with the novohispano Baroque dramatist Juan Ruiz de Alarcón’s La verdad sospechosa, a work staged at the Chamizal in 2000 and 2002, whose main character is also punished for a moral defect of character, that of not telling the truth. This lesson was lost in the BYU performance of Narciso.Although the actors had boundless energy and were remarkably well timed, they immediately succumbed to farce in the hands of the director. Jared White (as the servant Tadeo) and Fran Morón (as the servant Lucía) became puppets on stage, either falling down unnecessarily, in the first case, or, in the second, grabbing a nobleman’s derrière, among other things. That kind of behavior El Narciso en su opinión (Photo Courtesy of the Chamizal Siglo de Oro Drama Festival) FLLComediantesFINAL08_60.indd 159 8/13/08 11:01:50 AM 160 Bulletin of the Comediantes • 2008 Vol.60 No.1 ____________________________________________________________ Chamizal 2007 in servants might pass as acceptable in low comedy, but to have aristocratic ladies like Doña Brianda (played by Sarah Haynie) and Doña Mencía (played by Jessica Wise) behave in a childish and hysterical fashion was an unfortunate choice. In a Spanish comedy of manners, the women characters are always wise and witty in how they resolve their pre-nuptial problems. In that respect, they are truly modern and even feminist. Hysterical puppets on stage that spend their time screaming and crying, or, in one remarkable instance, mounted on the back of fencing suitors Don Gonzalo (Chris Larson) and the Marquis (Chris Nielsen), are simply undignified, ridiculous, and non-human. The model for this adaptation of a fine Guillén de Castro play seemed to be an adolescent sit-com that some misguided children might watch on Saturday mornings. Except, of course, that those sit-coms, in spite of their childish antics, do at times entertain a mild moral tone in the end. Not all was bad, of course. The actors were to be commended for their excellent Spanish, the product of the well-known language immersion programs prevalent at BYU. Actor Nel Johnson, in the main role as Don Gutierre, was simply sterling as the perfect dandy. He never lost track of...


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