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Memory and Theater in Francoist Spain: Fuente Ovejuna to the tune of "Cara al sol"

CGS Brown Bag Lecture Series
Oct 02, 2013
01:30 PM to 02:30 PM
430 Burrowes

Christopher Oechler, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, Penn State

Emboldened by Nationalist success in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), fascist directors, playwrights, and critics sought to revitalize the stagnant national theater and promote the values associated with the newly formed authoritarian regime. The memory of Spanish theater, particularly the remembering and restaging of seventeenth-century comedias, became a crucial part of this project. One play stands at the center of the debates over the theater's political and aesthetic regeneration: Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna (c. 1612-1614), a history play that dramatizes a village’s fifteenth-century rebellion against a tyrannical overlord. Drawing on press excerpts, editions of the play, and its definitive performance at the Teatro Español in 1944, my talk will examine how these conceptualizations of Fuente Ovejuna epitomized the changing direction of Spanish theater under the Francoist regime and reinforced the interplay of politics, historiography, and aesthetics.

Christopher Oechler is a doctoral student in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. His dissertation explores the overlapping and contradictory roles of history and memory in seventeenth-century Spanish theater. He focuses on the thematic popularity of history in the work of playwrights such as Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderón de la Barca and analyzes how the dramatization of prominent historical figures, including Charles V and Isabel the Catholic, comments on the structures of court historiography and collective memory during Spain’s imperial decline. His interests also extend to the staging of early modern history plays in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His research has been made possible through support from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. 

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

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