Cal Lutheran Theatre Arts and Dance Presents "Fuenteovejuna" November 14 to 24

Play recounts revolt by a Spanish village

Cal Lutheran production features action, music, humor

California Lutheran University is staging a historical play by Spain’s most popular Golden Age playwright that speaks to the power of people to overcome oppression, both then and now

The Theatre Arts and Dance Department will present seven performances of “Fuenteovejuna, or Like Sheep to Water…” at 8 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and 21-23 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 24 in the Black Box Theatre on the Thousand Oaks campus.

In the tradition of Spanish “comedias,” “Fuenteovejuna” is filled with action, music and humor. Set in 1476 Spain, it is based on the true story of the people of the village of Fuenteovejuna, which still exists today. A commander with a feudal holy order took over the town and ruled brutally, leading it into poverty and abusing and raping the women. Ultimately, the women led the town to rise up and kill the commander. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella asked townspeople who had committed the murder, each one answered only, “Fuenteovejuna did it,” even under torture. The king and queen, unable to prove guilt, pardoned the town.

“This play has long been on my directing bucket list,” said director Michael J. Arndt, chair of the Theatre Arts and Dance Department. “In a modern culture of abuse of power in business and in government, the story rings truer than ever. It speaks to the power of the average citizen in changing their circumstances and fighting oppression. The modern #MeToo movement is an echo of this 15th-century rebellion of women to oppose unjust and corrupt leadership.”

Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio, the author of the 1614 play, is often called the Spanish Shakespeare. He was extremely prolific, with at least 800 plays to his credit.

Curt Columbus translated the play into English. Languages and Cultures Department Chair Rafaela Fiore Urizar translated some dialogue back into Spanish to enhance the bilingual aspect of the production. Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival composer Christopher Hoag provided an original score featuring classical Spanish guitar music.

The set designed by assistant professor Andrea Heilman and constructed by technical director Josh Clabaugh converts the Black Box Theatre into a replica of a 17th-century Spanish “corral,” or courtyard. The audience will be seated around three sides on two levels of the courtyard.

Katarina Lopez, a Chatsworth resident majoring in theater arts and criminal justice, plays Laurencia, the woman who leads the town’s rebellion. Will Peña, a theater arts major from Santa Maria, plays the commander.

Admission is $10. Tickets are available online at CalLutheran.edu/theatre. For more information, call 805-493-3452.