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American Society for Theatre Research Call for Participants

15 May 2012




New Approaches to Plays from the Spanish Golden Age through Hidden Histories of Women & Native Americans


The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is forming a working session to:

  • Uncover new riches from theater history’s best-kept secret – the Spanish Comedia nueva.
  • Overhear vibrantly expressed underdog perspectives, as Native Americans and women take center stage.
  • Unearth golden opportunities for critical study, performance experimentation, and dynamic teaching.

ways in

In pursuit of its mission, this working session forms multidisciplinary teams to dig into two revolutionary plays currently poised for explosion in America:

  1. 1.     Ana Caro’s Valor, agravio y mujer (c. 1640). 

Known Fact:  playwright Ana Caro (c. 1600–1652) illuminates undercover history of female playwrights during the Siglo de Oro.

Known Fact:  protagonist Leonor (a/k/a Leonardo) mounts feminist counter-attack on Don Juan.

Facts To Be Determined:  How do Caro and her heroine open new horizons for Comedia research, shedding light on theater-making during the Spanish Golden Age and raising implications for staging and teaching today?  How does translation by Amy Williamsen (Courage, Betrayal, and a Woman Scorned) and editing by Ian Borden equip this play for resurgence in America?

  1. 2.     Lope de Vega’s El nuevo mundo descubierto por Cristobal Colón (c. 1600).

Known Fact:  first play in history to put Native Americans on stage.

Known Fact:  explores the causes and consequences of first contact between Europe and America.

Facts To Be Determined:  How do Nuevo mundo’s Amerindian characters interrogate theater’s capacity to challenge expectations about aliens, explode stereotypes, and promote human rights?  How can translation for Florida’s quincentennial (1513-2013) make this play a springboard for everyday citizens to engage in cultural rediscovery?

infiltration plan

Assembling multidisciplinary teams that link modern language experts with theater scholars, incorporate enthusiastic newcomers, and build on a history of collaborations previously sponsored by ASTR’s Comedia research group, this venture penetrates cultural barriers as participants:

  • Post initial responses to target plays on session’s wiki (June).


  • Contribute to online library of resources for researching target plays (July).


  • Formulate collaborative list of team research questions (August).


  • Produce an individual paper that explores a target play through a specific research question (September).


  • Respond to other team members’ papers and develop presentations for ASTR’s conference (October).


  • Participate in presentations that report team findings, stimulate discussion, and actively involve all ASTR members attending the session’s meeting in Nashville (November).



Experienced agents already stationed in the field to help teams dig effectively include:

Team Leaders Karen Berman (Georgia College & State University), Nena Couch (Ohio State University), Janine Kehlenbach (11 Minutes Theatre Company, Denver), and Darci Strother (California State University San Marcos).

Senior Scholars Ian Borden (University of Nebraska Lincoln), Ben Gunter (Theater with a Mission, Tallahassee), Grover Wilkins 3rd (Orchestra of New Spain, Dallas), and Amy Williamsen (University of North Carolina Greenboro).

Respondent Susan Paun de García (Denison University).

special operative appeals

  • Because operations to incorporate comedias into teaching, production, and research in America can fail when agents encounter difficulty in decoding texts, teams will focus on equipping target plays with features that make them user-friendly – e.g., guides to critical hotspots, maps for classroom activities, and pointers for putting the scenes into production.  These resources will remain available longterm via wikispace postings.


  • Because this session targets comedias newly translated for performance in the US, team presentations will include rehearsed readings of critical scenes, putting research findings into practice and enhancing the session with performance elements.  Readings may be re-presented afterhours to ASTR at large.


agent selection procedure

1) Craft 250-word statement spelling out your personal interest in going undercover with one of these comedias.  Zero in on any aspect of the project that appeals to you.  No prior experience required; diversity desired.

2) Add 150-word biographical sketch.  Go public about your modern language skills, experience with theater production and/or pedagogy, allied research interests, and/or raw enthusiasm.

3) Send statement & sketch to ASTRundercover2012@yahoo.com by 31 May 2012.

4) Await response.

recruitment disclosures

PLEASE NOTE:  This is not a call to write a paper and read it at a conference, but a quest to burrow into research targets through months-long scholarly exchanges, to share findings with fellow agents (in writing) before ASTR meets, and to engage in intelligence-altering discussion of discoveries at the conference.

More details on how ASTR working sessions operate is available at www.astr.org. (where you can also find dossiers on other working sessions you’ll be privileged to eavesdrop on by joining us undercover).


Emerging insider info @ spanish-golden-age-plays.wikispaces.com.

American Society for Theatre Research Working Session on Golden Age Drama

22 April 2009

American Society for Theatre Research
November 11-15, 2009
San Juan, Puerto Rico

There is a Golden Age Working Group, New Approaches to Plays from the Spanish Golden Age: Destiny, Nation Formation, & Puerto Rican Perspectives

The Working Group will divide into three teams: one working on Lo fingido verdadero, another on Fuente Ovejuna, and finally on Los melindres de Belisa. See the ASTR 2009 Call for Participants.  

Questions regarding this Session may be directed to the conveners at astr_gold_2009@yahoo.com

For general information please see the Conference Website.

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