The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Quixote and Nuevo

Quixote Nuevo is based on the 17th-century literary classic, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. Octavio Solis first faithfully adapted Don Quixote in 2009. 10 years later, his new take on the Spanish classic hits much closer to home. We’ve highlighted some key differences between classic Quixote and the Nuevo knight.  

The Enemies in Combat

Quixote's most famous enemies are the windmills he mistakes for giants in the countryside of La Mancha. The scene is the origin for the phrase titling at windmills, which refers to undertaking futile tasks or fighting imaginary foes.

Tilting at surveillance balloons will probably not take off as a new idiom, but it is a fitting replacement for the windmill: both are (relatively) new technologies, specific to the area, and a symbol for the destruction of the past and a new, uncertain future. 

The Faithful Companion

Witty and practical, Sancho is a poor farmer that takes up with Don Quixote as a squire, on the promise that he'll be rewarded an island in return for his efforts. Although he is a little greedy, Sancho becomes a loyal friend to the frail and aging Quixote.

Witty and practical, Manny is a paletas vendor who shows real concern for his neighbor, Joe. Manny agrees to join hm as Sancho so he can keep an eye on him. Like the original Sancho, he becomes a loyal friend who admires the mad knight. 

The Knight of the Woeful Countenance

Before riding out as the Spanish Knight of La Mancha, Don Quixote is simply Alonso Quijano, a nobleman who has read a few too many romance books of yore. He goes mad and believes he is a chivalrous knight-errant destined to serve his country.

Before riding out as the Latino Knight of La Plancha, José (Joe) Quijano is a retired Cervantes scholar and professor fighting a losing battle against regret and dementia. His dementia and desire to right wrongs create the delusion that he is Don Quixote.

Activity

Watch the video summary to get a feel for the original Don QuixoteHeads up: This video contains some PG-rated language.

 

Identify an epic story that lives in the past. It can be mythical or a recount of an actual event. Adapt the epic story to fit in your modern world. What are the key differences?

 

Bonus challenge: create short scenes of the modern adaptation and act them out or write a script.

A World Inspired by Quixote

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes forever changed the way we experience fiction. It has been translated into over 60 different languages and adapted into practically every art form known to man. References to Don Quixote are found all over pop culture, from The Simpsons to Supernatural.

Did You Know...?

Fun Fact: A man going by the pseudonym of Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda released an unauthorized sequel to Don Quixote. This critically panned rip off angered Cervantes so much that he wrote his own part two. Don Quixote dies at the end, effectively putting a stop to any future copycats. No one knows for sure who Alonso was, but rumor has it that a group loyal to Lope de Vega wrote it. Lope de Vega was a playwright, poet, and literary rival to Cervantes.

Miguel de Cervantes (left) vs Lope de Vega (right)

The Life & Times of Cervantes

Explore the Cervantes exhibit curated by the Biblioteca Nacional de España (The National Library of Spain)

The life of Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) is an epic tale of its own. He fought in the Spanish army against the Ottoman Empire and lost the use of his left arm. He was captured by pirates while sailing back to Spain and spent five years as a slave in Algiers. He tried to escape four times before he was finally ransomed.  

Life as a free man in Spain wasn’t easy for Cervantes. He had a troubled marriage, financial difficulties, and was jailed several times for fraud (and once as a murder suspect). Even though he is hailed as one of the greatest writers of all time, his writing never made him rich.  

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Copyright Alley Theatre Education & Community Engagement 2015.