By WENDY PARKULO / Staff Writer
At the beginning of October, Tallahassee’s historical living history museum Mission San Luis hosted a weekend festival of theatrical workshops, demonstrations, and performances as part of the series “Interpreting Cultural Connections Between Cervantes and Shakespeare.” One of the highlights of the weekend was Theatre with a Mission’s world premiere production of Loco for Love. Theatre with a Mission (TWAM) is a non-profit organization consisting of Tallahassee-based actors, scholars, and cultural explorers whose goal is to “rediscover history by reviving plays from the Spanish Golden Age.” The original performance Loco for Love explored Cervantes’ and Shakespeare’s development of a common character – Cardenio – by comparing and contrasting the writers’ interpretations through a creative wrestling match of theatre. The play was entertaining, witty and thoroughly achieved its goal of transporting audience members back 400 years in time. The dual usage of Spanish and English was very well executed and enhanced the cross-cultural components of the show. Ben Gunter, a new Florida State University theatre professor, directed the groundbreaking production that showcased many FSU theatre students.
Amanda Fernandez-Acosta and Giancarlo Herrera were two such students. Both were extremely grateful for the unique opportunity to participate in such an exceptional and educational show. Herrera commented, “It was liberating to build something from the ground up with no previous conceptions on what it was ‘supposed’ to look like. The play was living, breathing, and fluid as we reworked scenes to make them as clear as possible for the audience.” Fernandez-Acosta also noted the fluidity of the process and the script, saying that initially roles were shifted around and many scenes were “rewritten with suggestions from cast members to be made more understandable for the audience and ourselves.”
Working with 400-year-old scripts was certainly a challenge, but reinterpretations after all this time leads to endless possibilities. This eye-opening production showcased the similarities and differences between Spanish and English culture while celebrating both. “I’m so glad I got involved with TWAM,” Fernandez-Acosta concluded. “It helped me develop a better understanding of Shakespeare and the Spanish culture and how it can be both similar and different.”
If you missed out on this performance, don’t fret. Theatre with a Mission is planning on improving and restaging the show and possibly putting it on tour. The organization is also always looking for people who are interested in historical exploration through theatre. If this interests you, there is a Come Play section on their website that details how to get involved.