Lazarillo LAZARILLO. The Bronx Is Burning. Study Guide Miracle Theatre Group, 2011

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1 LAZARILLO Study Guide Miracle Theatre Group, 2011 Lazarillo by Mark Saltveit The Bronx Is Burning The South Bronx area of New York was a predominantly Jewish, middle class neighborhood in the early 20 th century. Then, between 1940 and 1960, many residents moved to the suburbs and the population shifted from 57% Jewish in 1930 to two thirds Puerto Rican and Black by As the demographics changed, "urban renewal" dragged the neighborhood down with massive low income housing projects and a freeway the Cross Bronx Expressway that cut the neighborhood in two, destroying hundreds of apartment buildings. New York City actually concentrated the city's welfare recipients in this neighborhood as a matter of policy in the late 1960s. Rent control discouraged building improvements, and in 1973, the Co Op City project opened in the North Bronx, with over 15,000 affordable, middle class units in 35 high rise buildings that encouraged South Bronx residents to move away. The South Bronx quickly fell into a self reinforcing spiral of urban decay, perhaps the worst that the United States has ever known. Landlords stopped maintaining buildings, residents moved out and squatters moved in, from gangs and drug dealers to the homeless and mentally ill. Crime exploded, and the embattled 41st police precinct became infamous as "Fort Apache The Bronx." By the late 1970s, several buildings were burned every day for insurance money or other reasons. Some residents of public housing projects started fires just to get priority on the 3 year waiting list for better units. Fire trucks would show up to find all of the residents on the curb, with their belongings neatly packed. Eventually 40% of all buildings in the South Bronx were burned. During game 2 of the 1977 World Series, held at the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, sportscaster Howard Cosell commented on a 5 alarm fire visible from their aerial shots. Though he did not actually say "The Bronx is burning!" in so many words, another reporter wrote that he did, and the phrase stuck as an emblem of the district's deep troubles. Between 1970 and 1981, two thirds of the residents living in Precinct 41 moved away. The neighborhood began a slow comeback in the mid 1980s. New York's Mayor, Ed Koch, arranged for $1.5 billion in city funds for housing, and several community development corporations (CDCs) worked with private foundations to build new housing, mostly single family houses, duplexes and triplexes. Over 70,000 new housing units have been added. Page 1

2 In the 1980s, the setting for Lazarillo, the South Bronx was infamous as a national symbol of urban failure but stirring with the beginnings of a dramatic comeback. It was home to a vibrant culture that spawned the original hip hop scene and visual artists such as Keith Haring. The South Bronx is still poor, but much healthier. It's a much less dense neighborhood, with fewer renters and more owners. 5,000 residents have returned to Precinct 41, new businesses and arts groups are thriving, a greenway is being developed along the waterfront, and even some luxury houses and condos are being built. "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York," by Robert Caro (Vintage: NY) 1974 "Remembrance of Synagogues Past: The Lost Civilization of Jewish South Bronx," 4 th Edition, by Dr. Seymour J. Perlin, (2010) at "South Bronx Rises Out of the Ashes," by Terry Wynn, NBC News, January 17, 2005 "Hope is Artists' Medium in a Bronx Neighborhood," by Nina Siegal, New York Times, December 27, 2000 "Pulling Out of Fort Apache: The Bronx," by Ian Fisher, New York Times, June 23, 1993 The Picaresque Novel La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas was a pioneering book in many ways, and not just because it was published in 1554, barely 100 years after the printing press was invented. At a time when heroes and leaders were always portrayed as wealthy, refined noblemen, Lazarillo was the first picaresque novel (picaresco) one that revolved around a poor man, a charming rogue (or picaro) whose antics revealed the hypocrisies and flaws of Spain's most powerful people. Lazaro was a servant (as well as a scoundrel and thief) who moved through a succession of masters, each more powerful and wealthy and corrupt than the last. The book was realistic in its depiction of lower class life and used common, everyday language shocking innovations in that era. Lazarillo was also centuries ahead of its time in sympathetically portraying an interracial marriage and step family. Over the centuries, Lazarillo has inspired a wide range of anti hero novels from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and On The Road, to Don Quixote, Candide, The Adventures of Auggie March, The Tin Drum, and The Tropic of Cancer. One precursor and likely influence was the German trickster Till Eulenspiegel, a subject of many folkloric tales first published in book form by Hermann Bote in Eulenspiegel was the original Page 2

3 "Merry Prankster," a simple peasant who played cruel practical jokes on his superiors and often misunderstood figurative language by taking it too literally. Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Picaresque novel". The Literary Encyclopedia Maravall, José Antonio. La Literatura Picaresca desde la Historia Social (Siglos XVI al XVII). Madrid: Taurus Ediciones, Parker, A. A. Literature and the Delinquent: the Picaresque Novel in Spain and Europe: Edinburgh University Press, 1967 The Spanish Inquisition While the members of Monty Python may not have expected the Spanish Inquisition, it was no joke during Spain's Golden Age (roughly 1500 to 1650). As many as 5,000 Spaniards were executed, and 150,000 were investigated for various offenses including blasphemy and spreading heretical ideas. Among those not killed, confiscation of money and torture were common. Inquisitors most commonly put those accused on the rack (el potro), a wooden frame with rotating drums that pulled apart the victim's limbs. They also invented waterboarding, which they called la toca (the touch). Since torture was part of the investigative process, a favorable outcome at trial was not much consolation. The Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, targeting conversos (Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity) and later moriscos (Moslem converts) suspected of secretly practicing their old religions. It was promoted by Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and actually resisted at first (but finally agreed to) by Pope Sixtus IV (in 1478) and Pope Innocent VIII (in 1484). Permanent tribunals were established across Spain by Over time its targets grew to include Protestants, bigamists, homosexuals, Freemasons, "witches," and those accused of heresy or blasphemy. In 1551 just three years before Lazarillo de Tormes was published the Spanish Inquisition published its first list, the Index, of prohibited books. So it is no surprise that the author of this book, which ridiculed the Catholic Church for hypocrisy and corruption, chose to remain anonymous. Though its targets shifted over time, the Spanish Inquisition was not finally and officially disbanded until Henry Charles Lea, "A History of the Inquisition of Spain" (4 volumes), (New York, ). Henry Kamen, "The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision." (Yale University Press, 1997). William Monter, "Frontiers of Heresy: The Spanish Inquisition from the Basque Lands to Sicily," Cambridge University Press 1990 William Thomas Walsh, Isabella of Spain (1930) and Characters of the Inquisition (1940). R. Sabbatini, Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition, (1913). C. Roth, The Spanish Inquisition, (1937) and History of the Marranos (1932). A.S. Turberville, Medieval History and the Inquisition, (1920) and A.S. Turberville, The Spanish Inquisition (1932) Page 3

4 Who Wrote Lazarillo? The author of Lazarillo wisely chose to remain anonymous, as the Spanish Inquisition was in full force, and in fact the book was promptly added to the list of banned books. While a censored edition was allowed in 1573, and an edition published in Antwerp circulated through Europe, the complete book wasn't published in Spain until the 18 th century. Historians have long speculated about who wrote this important work. The first attribution was given in 1605, when a Heironymite monk named declared that Fray Juan de Ortega was the author. Just two years later, Belgian scholar Valère André named Spanish nobleman and diplomat Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza as the author. Controversy has continued for centuries, but in 2010 the Spanish paleographer Mercedes Agulló found documents that strongly support Hurtado as the writer. Painstakingly searching through Hurtado's voluminous papers, Agulló found a file of corrections to the 1573 edition of Lazarrillo. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza was an interesting character, a noble warrior scholar born to the Captain General of the Kingdom of Granada, and grandson of the Marquis of Santillana. Don Hurtado was a poet, novelist, and patron of the arts. He received the best education of his day and knew Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, among other languages. A favorite of Emperor Charles V, he served as military governor of Siena, a delegate to the Council of Trent, and ambassador to the courts of England, Rome and Venice. However, Charles V was succeeded by his son Phillip II in 1554, the same year Lazarillo was published. (In fact, Phillip married Queen Mary I of Britain, "Bloody Mary", and also ruled as king of England and Ireland until her death.) Hurtado was not liked by the new Emperor, who was rumored to desire Don Diego's large library of books and manuscripts, one of the most impressive of his day. Or did Phillip know that Hurtado wrote Lazarillo? For whatever reason, the Emperor imprisoned Don Hurtado in the royal dungeon of Castle La Mota, where Cesare Borgia had earlier been held, in the years immediately after Lazarillo was published, and later banished him to Granada. Lazarillo de Tormes, in: "Two Spanish Picaresque Novels," Trans. Michael Alpert. (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books) 1969 Fiore, Robert L. "Lazarillo de Tormes," (Boston: Twayne Publishers) 1984 Maravall, José Antonio. "La Literatura Picaresca desde la Historia Social (Siglos XVI al XVII)," (Madrid: Taurus Ediciones) 1987 Parker, A. A. "Literature and the Delinquent: the Picaresque Novel in Spain and Europe: ," (Edinburgh University Press) 1967 "El Lazarillo no es anónimo," by Blanca Berasátegu, El Mundo newspaper, May 3, 2010 "Diego Hurtado de Mendoza," Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company Page 4

5 Commedia dell'arte masked performances Commedia dell'arte was the first entirely professional form of theater, begun in Italy around 1550, immediately before Lazarillo de Tormes was published. Masked actors portrayed set character types or stereotypes in improvised performances on temporary, outdoor stages, using props in place of extensive painted sets. This was also the first branch of Western theater that included female performers. Even later, in Shakespearian times, male actors played women's roles. The characters were not specific to each play; instead, there were a set group of stock characters. One of the earliest troupes, the Gelosi of Northern Italy and France, had what they called the "usual ten" roles: "two vecchi (old men), four innamorati (two male and two female lovers), two zanni, a captain, and a servetta (serving maid)." The zanni were key; in fact, these plays were called "zanni" long before the term Commedia dell'arte was coined. The zanni, which comes from a Venetian variation of the name Gianni, were clever servant/trickers, sly dispossessed immigrant workers who used their wiles to get by in the big city. The zanni wore white baggy clothes (typical of peasants and farmworkers at the time), and often had a peaked hat and wooden sword. They were the most sympathetic characters and often spoke directly to the audience. Castagno, Paul C. "The Early Commedia dell'arte ( )," (NY: Peter Lang Publishing) 1994 Katritzky, M.A."The Art of Commedia: A Study in the Commedia dell'arte ," (New York: Editions Rodopi), 2006 Palleschi, Marino. "The Commedia dell'arte: Its Origins, Development & Influence on the Ballet," (Auguste Vestris) 2005 Scala, Flaminio (1611) "Il Teatro Delle Favole Rappresentative," Translated into English by Henry F. Salerno in 1967 as "Scenarios of the Commedia dell'arte" Nicoll M.A., Allardyce, "Masks Mimes and Miracles Studies in the Popular Theatre," (New York: Cooper Square Publishers) 1963 The Process of Creating Lazarillo ~ Interview with CarlosAlexis Cruz Plays are often written by loners in a coffee shop, who then hand their typed, polished scripts to the director. That's a stereotype, of course, but Lazarillo's collaborative genesis has been very different. First of all, drama is much more than words. Director CarlosAlexis Cruz, who teaches theatre at George Fox University, has made a career of exploring movement and acrobatics in his productions, and he did his best to remove words from this this one. "In rehearsal, they talk a lot. I say, 'don't talk replace words with movement.' " But let's go back to the beginning. When the Miracle Theatre commissioned Cruz to develop a stage adaption of Lazarillo, he was thrilled. Like many Puerto Rican children, he had read the 1554 classic in school twice in fact. The first time, in 10th grade, he loved the slapstick humor and found it more enjoyable than even Don Quijote. When he studied it again in college, he appreciated it on deeper levels of history, satire and social justice. Page 5

6 Cruz made two bold artistic decisions to stage the play in the tradition of commedia dell'arte, and to set it in the 1980s South Bronx Puerto Rican community. Commedia was popular in Italy, not Spain, but it rose in exactly the same time period the early 1550s and the extreme social disparities of 1980s New York were an effective way to make the story of a Golden Age servant relevant to modern viewers. Lazarillo's social mobility (and questionable success) mirrors that of many Puerto Ricans, who moved from rural parts of the island to the United States in hopes of advancing, only to find themselves in some of the most blighted urban slums in American history. Commedia was performed by stock characters, improvising in outdoor theaters. Cruz found that Lazarillo's key characters transposed well to commedia archetypes. Lazarillo himself is a classic zanni, the uneducated peasant who exposes his social superior's hypocrisy (from which we get the word zany). The squire became a capitano, the priest an educated dottore, etc. Cruz focused on key scenes in the novel and brought their main plot points to the acting ensemble. The rest, however, was improvised in rehearsals the dialogue, how characters got from plot point A to plot point B, etc. In rehearsals, Cruz helped the actors deepen their characters, reconnect to the novel's themes, polish transitions and yes cut out words. The best results were shaped into the final production. A generative play is much harder work than a fixed script. It requires intense collaboration, under severe time pressure, between the director, actors, designers, technicians and artistic director. It's a tightrope walk without a net but the result (when successful) is a depth and vibrancy unlike any scripted work, a play that fits its actors like a tailored suit. JOIN MIRACLE FOR: The Inquisition of Lazarillo: Raising the Question This free conversation series will accompany Lazarillo. Director CarlosAlexis Cruz re locates the classic work to the 80's in New York City, in a hip hop, circus, mask and movement based interpretation. This much more liberal take on the classic work has generated new questions for us at Miracle and we are looking forward to speaking with our audiences on three specific themes. Dates: Wednesdays, May 11, 18, & 25 6pm Dali Maya Café Free, in English & 60 minutes Wednesday, May 11 at 6pm: Cloaking Dissent ~ How do societal pressures influence a writer's freedom? How do artists edit themselves in order to reach or not offend a wide audience? How long does it take radical new ideas to become acceptable? What ideas are not being shared because artists or their agents don t think they ll be appealing? Wednesday, May 18 at 6pm: The Livelihoods of Lazarillo ~ What are the contemporary factors that affect a person's socio economic mobility? How do education, upbringing, wealth, etc., create real and perceived barriers that hinder an individual's rise to success? What are some of the unspoken rules that define class and therefore advancement in our society? Which of these rules can be learned? Page 6

7 Wednesday, May 25 at 6pm: The Trials of Adaptation ~ Why and how do we adapt classic literature for modern audiences? How does an adaptation of a classic work, whether into another form or another context, reveal its relevant themes in ways that the original form cannot? What current media standards and audience expectations make adaptations of classic works necessary? What are the traps of creating adaptations? This program was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH s grant program. Lazarillo A bilingual production ~ May 6-28, 2011 Wednesday, May 11 and 18 matinees at 2pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday matinees at 2pm at Milagro Theatre 525 SE Stark St., Portland, OR Tickets are $14-$25 For Group sales, please contact Tim Krause, Marketing Director: ext. 113 Tickets may be purchased at or by calling Post-play discussion with the actors on Sunday, May 8 th, following the matinee performance. The Northwest's premier Latino arts and culture organization 425 SE 6th Avenue Portland OR The Miracle Theatre Group has been dedicated to bringing the vibrancy of Latino theatre to the Northwest community and beyond since In addition to its national tours, Miracle provides a home for Latino arts and culture at El Centro Milagro, where it enriches the local community with a variety of community outreach projects and educational programs designed to share the diversity of Latino culture. For more information about the Miracle, visit or call Page 7

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