February 10, 2022

Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater presents Fuenteovejuna by Lope de Vega

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University presents Fuenteovejuna by Lope de Vega, a classic play of Spain’s Golden Age, to be performed in Spanish with English supertitles. Directed by professional guest director Estefanía Fadul, this reimagined production features original rock music composed by Julián Mesri, set design by Raul Abrego, Jr., and sound design by Nathan Leigh. The cast features Princeton senior Juan José López Haddad, who is also costume designer and dramaturg on the production. Performances are on Friday, February 25 and Saturday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 27 at 3:00 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place. Tickets are $12 in advance, $17 purchased day of performances, and $10 for students at McCarter Box Office. All guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the maximum extent, which includes a COVID booster shot for all eligible to receive it, to wear a mask when indoors, and to show proof of vaccination and a photo ID at the door (Princeton students, faculty, and staff only need to show their PU ID card).

Lope de Vega, born in 1562 in Madrid, was a contemporary and literary peer of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Pierre Corneille, and Molière. Vega produced an enormous body of work in his lifetime, including plays, lyric and epic poems, novels, epistles, and polemics. He renewed the formulas of Spanish theater at a time when theater was starting to become a common entertainment for the masses. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the art form was his comedia play. A comedia is a three-act play whose plot draws from national history and lore, classical mythology, popular ballads of the day, the lives of saints, biblical stories, or other sources. Despite what its name suggests, the comedia often includes tragic elements. Fuenteovejuna is a prime example of the comedia and Vega’s most well-known play. First performed sometime between 1612 and 1614, Fuenteovejuna has become a staple on stages across the Spanish-speaking world from Latin America to Spain.

Fuenteovejuna takes place in 1476 in the Spanish countryside, during the war following Henry IV of Castille’s death. After Comendador Fernán Gómez de Guzmán is victorious in battle, he returns to his domain in the town of Fuenteovejuna, where he kidnaps Laurencia, the mayor’s daughter and new bride of Frondoso. After the incident, Laurencia convinces the villagers to rise against the Comendador’s tyranny and oppression, resulting in his murder. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella question the town about the Comendador’s murder, all they learn is that “Fuenteovejuna did it.”

Despite being a classical work from the 17th century, Fuenteovejuna portrays a contemporary story where communities rally together to empower themselves and create the change they want to see. López Haddad proposed a Spanish-language production of Fuenteovejuna as his senior thesis in Princeton’s Program in Theater because he wanted to push back against assumptions made about Latinx culture and Spanish-language plays in the western theater world and about theater as an English-centric artform. He also wanted to create and celebrate a community of theatermakers coming together to mount a production in Spanish.

4 students pretend to swordfight

Students in rehearsal for the Lewis Center for the Arts’ upcoming production of “Fuenteovejuna.” Photo credit: Milan Eldridge

As a history major specializing in the social and cultural history of the Middle Ages, López Haddad wants to highlight the people of the period through this project. He notes people of this age were not docile peasants, as is commonly believed, but sophisticated and intelligent individuals capable of fighting for their freedom. Additionally, López Haddad believes the themes of gender and class struggle running through the play are relevant in today’s world, where many are leading similar fights for justice as are the women of Fuenteovejuna.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, López Haddad is one of nearly 30 Princeton seniors pursuing a certificate in theater or music theater in addition to their major areas of study. Independent work for the certificate culminates in a major creative or research project, such as writing an original theatrical work, producing or directing a production, the performance or extended exploration of a major role, design of sets, lighting or costumes, stage management, dramaturgy, research for a scholarly written thesis, or any other theatrical undertaking in the creation or production of theater. Thesis students in the Program in Theater work closely with one or more members of the faculty, who serve as advisors to these student-driven projects, and with the Lewis Center’s professional production staff.

López Haddad had an interest in theater in high school but first began to pursue his passion at Princeton. He joined multiple student theater groups including Triangle, Princeton University Players, Theatre Intime, and the Playwright’s Guild, and he performed in the Lewis Center’s productions of The Odyssey and served as stage manager on We Once Spoke. In 2021, López Haddad served as president of the Performing Arts Council, and he is an editor and peer-reviewer of Scivias, Princeton’s Journal for Late Antique and Medieval Studies. After Princeton, López Haddad plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Medieval History. He hopes to focus his research on minority Christian communities in the Levant and Northern Africa and explore their relationships with the papacy in Rome.

Estefanía Fadul is a Colombian-born, New York City-based director and producer whose work aims to connect diverse communities through inventive, visceral, and socially conscious storytelling. Her recent and current projects include the world premieres of The Garbologists by Lindsey Joelle at Philadelphia Theatre Company and Eva Luna, adapted by Caridad Svich from the novel by Isabel Allende, at Repertorio Español in New York City. Fadul has developed new works off-Broadway and regionally at the Public Theater, Playwright’s Realm, and Latinx Playwrights Circle among others. She has guest directed at universities and training programs including Julliard, New York University, State University of New York at Purchase, and the Atlantic Conservatory. Additionally, Fadul is an artist with the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, was the 2020 inaugural recipient of New York Stage and Film’s Pfaelzer Award and is an alumna of the Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center/NNPN’s National Directors Fellowship, the Drama League Directors Project’s Fall Fellowship and TV Directing Fellowship, the Civilians’ R&D Group, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and the Van Lier Fellowship at Repertorio Español.

The rest of the cast includes seniors Emily Cruz and Erica de Lacerda; junior Kaelani Burja; sophomores Mahalia Norton, Raquel Ramirez, and Aaron Ventresca; and first-year students Dominic Dominguez and John Venegas Juarez. Other students taking on key production roles are senior Ed Horan as music director and bassist, sophomore Kerstin Fagerstrom as lighting designer, junior Tommy Kim on drums, sophomore Rohit Oomman on guitar, and graduate student Dylan Blau Edelstein as Spanish language coach to the cast.

Guest artists on the production include ASCAP Foundation Scholar Julián Mesri as composer and lyricist for some of the original songs, feature-film and Broadway designer Raul Abrego, Jr. as set designer, Princeton alumna Milan Eldridge as stage manager, award-winning composer Nathan Leigh as sound designer, movement theater artist Cristina (Cha) Ramos as fight and intimacy director, and Annika Perez-Krikorian on supertitles. The College of New Jersey student Lily Bohon, a Best Buddies intern, is serving on the run crew. Faculty member Sarita Fellows is serving as costume advisor.

English supertitles of the performance in Spanish will be provided. An assistive listening system is available in the Berlind Theatre, and guests in need of other access accommodations are asked to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the performance date. A Spanish-language version of this text is available to download as a Word document.


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