Men and Women to Sit Separately During Royal Shakespeare Company's Spanish Golden Age

News   Men and Women to Sit Separately During Royal Shakespeare Company's Spanish Golden Age
The Royal Shakespeare Company has revealed more details for its tantalizing Spanish Golden Age season. And — talk about period practices — it involves separating male and female theatregoers.

On Saturday, July 24, the Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon (where all the season’s plays will be performed) will be whisked back to Spain in the 1600’s. As was the practice then, men and women will sit in separate areas of the auditorium — men in the stalls, with women in the balcony and gallery. This custom evolved in Spain so that local authorities could be certain that young couples would not try to copy the immoral happenings they were seeing on the stage. So the women were put into a sectioned-off area called the "stewpan" or "cazuela." The July 24 day will feature a matinee of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz’s House of Desires and an evening performance of Lope de Vega’s The Dog in the Manger.

In all, the season includes:
The Dog in the Manger by de Vega, in a new translation by David Johnston. Laurence Boswell, artistic director of the Spanish season, directs, with designs by Es Devlin and lighting by Ben Ormerod. The show, a comedy about a beautiful Countess of Naples who refuses all advances — and then catches her favorite lady-in-waiting making love to her secretary and is consumed by jealousy — begins previews April 14 with an opening night on April 21. Lope, who wrote this between 1613 and 1615, is believed to have penned 1,800 comedies. Only 300 have survived. When he died aged 73, his State funeral lasted for nine days.

Tamar’s Revenge by Tirso de Molina, in a new translation by James Fenton. Simon Usher directs, with designs by Delia Peel and music by Neil McArthur. The biblical epic depicts King David’s son Amnon being captivated by a mysterious singing voice and setting out to discover who owns it, with disastrous consequences. Born in 1579, Molina was known in Spain for his prowess in literary tournaments. The show begins previews April 28, with an opening night on May 5.

House of Desires by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, in a new translation by Catherine Boyle. Nancy Meckler directs, with designs by Katrina Lindsay, lighting by Ben Ormerod and music by Ilona Sekacz. House of Desires tells of a brother and sister and four others who become entangled in a web of love. Cruz was a poet-nun from Mexico, who died in 1695. The play begins previews June 30, with a July 8 opening.

Pedro, The Great Pretender by Miguel Cervantes, in a new translation by Philip Osment. Mike Alfreds directs, with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Ben Ormerod and music by Ilona Sekacz. Cervantes, the famous author of “Don Quixote,” here tells of Pedro, a loveable trickster and adventurer who wants to help everyone so that he will become popular. Finally, he finds his true vocation — on the stage. Previews Sept. 1, opening night on Sept. 9. The season’s acting company, who all play several roles across the plays, includes Claire Cox, Rebecca Johnson, Katherine Kelly, Melanie McHugh, Emma Pallant, Joanna van Kampen, William Buckhurst, James Chalmers, Joseph Chance, Julius D’Silva, Joseph Millson, Vinta Morgan, Oscar Pearce, John Ramm, Matt Ryan, Peter Sproule, John Stahl, Simon Trinder, John Wark and Oliver Williams.

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