UNC Charlotte students this summer are creating an innovative theatrical production that combines works of two significant playwrights, while delving into topics including diversity, theatrical performance, language, history and the craft of writing.
These students are studying in England, collaborating with Kingston University students, British theater professionals and a UNC Charlotte scholar to combine versions of Cervantes’ The Sultan’s Queen (La gran sultana) and Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Scholars and theater practitioners recently have considered the parallels in the works of Shakespeare and Cervantes, but have not focused on this particular Cervantes’ play.
“Historically, this is really important, in terms of the performance of Cervantes’ works,” said project lead Maryrica Ortiz Lottman, who also will serve as the dramaturge, addressing the culture and language of the time period. Lottman, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, researches early modern Hispanic literature and culture, and theater and performance studies.
The intensive focus helps the texts come alive for students, Lottman said. “You can’t really understand a play unless you see it in performance, do it in performance,” she said. “It opens up all these questions, for me as a scholar and for the students.”
Students also can consider contemporary topics in the context of their connection to earlier times. “People think that diversity, hybridization, and intercultural issues are new,” Lottman said. “This is what Cervantes was talking about. We can represent those topics and discuss them in a really open and impactful way.”
“When we visited UNC Charlotte, we took the texts as starting points, and allowed ourselves and the students creative flexibility with the material,” said director James Reynolds. Choreographer Jon Chu and sound and lighting designer Andrew Nasrat joined Reynolds in the visit.
“This project works on the points of similarity, such as the importance of sea travel, religion, and the commodification of women, as well as the contrasts in language, character and action,” Reynolds said. “We aim to discover through experimental, practical theater work how the use of the original story reveals the principles of adaptation which Renaissance writers used when re-imagining these narratives for the stage.”
To continue to engage more people, UNC Charlotte students in the fall will screen a recording of the performance with highlights from the rehearsal process. The event may include live dances and short scenes from the production. As the screening is scheduled, details will be posted on this site.