Quixote Nuevo by Octavio Solis

The themes of Quixote Nuevo

Imagination VS Reality

The original Don Quixote has stood the test of time because its idea of chasing “the impossible dream” appeals to us all. Unlike the original Quixote, the main character in Quixote Nuevo, José Quijano, is affected by dementia- it’s his illness, not his passion, that separates him from reality. In both versions, it's hard to find the line between what’s real and what’s not. What draws us to the brink between reality and fantasy?  

Outside of Reality: The Pros of Imagination

Quijano/Quixote- both in the original and in this adaptation- live in a fantasy world of their own creation. It’s a fantasy that people flock to again and again. It ignites our imaginations- that's why so many adaptations, so many artworks, have latched on to this fantastical, larger-than-life character.  

One author's glimpse into the value of an active imagination. 

Why imagine a different life? Octavio's take on Quijano's delusions.

Click to see 12 different ways our brains use our imagination

"When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams- this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! But maddest of all- to see life as it is and not as it should be."

-Cervantes in Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman

Outside of Reality: The Cons of Delusions

Don Quixote's madness is full of paradoxes- it is a madness carefully selected, a delusion carefully crafted. The debate continues about the extent of his insanity.


Jose Quijano, however, isn't suffering from an over-active imagination. He is experiencing hallucinations and delusions as a result of advancing dementia.


What's the difference? Hallucinations (sensory perception of something not really there) and delusions (strongly held irrational beliefs) are non-voluntary. Hallucinations activate the same brain areas where we perceive real life through our senses- areas that are not activated by imagination. for the people experiencing them, they are very real.

 "As Jung understood...there is a world of difference between the voluntary, playful engagement of the imagination, and the involuntary descent into psychosis."

-Ronald W. Pies, MD, Psychiatric Times

Outside of Reality: The Pull of Meta-fiction

In the original text, Cervantes embraces metafiction to the nth degree. He makes a character of himself as a narrator telling the reader a legend, talking to them directly. He talks about pulling stories from different sources...some of the sources conflict...some of them are unfinished...some of them are translated but by untrustworthy sources. He uses stories-with-stories-within-stories, giving himself plenty of room for commentary and creating a conversation between fiction and reality. Cheeky.

Unreliable narrators and meta moments aren't strangers to the stage world. They can range from comical (like the characters feeding the narrator to a giant in Into the Woods), to down-right spooky (The Woman in Black has been frightening West End audiences for 30 years). And, in the case of Quixote Nuevo, they can be moving and magical.

Jose Quijano may be an unreliable narrator of reality, but the magical and mundane co-exist in beautiful, moving ways in his dream-like world. 

Quick Listen: Radiolab explores why we're drawn to blurring the lines of fiction & reality

Is Chivalry Dead?

Chivalry can be a trigger word for some, but what does it even mean? Is it really dead? Should it be revived? Well...it depends on who you ask.  

Chivalry: A Medieval Perspective

Medieval chivalry, like the kind Quixote was obsessed with, is most definitely dead. Chivalry was a code of conduct for Knights, who were a class unto their own. Knights were sons of noblemen who trained to fight in combat at the service of a liege. They weren't at the top of the food chain, but they held a higher position than most.


Chivalry was laudable- they were theoretically held to high standards. But the existence of high standards doesn't prove how well they were kept- and it certainly didn't change the unpleasant reality of a violent time with lots of unrest

Do you want to bump into this while walking the dog? Ni thank you. 

Chivalry: A Modern Perspective

The idea of chivalry that has persisted through the ages has expanded beyond knights to include men in general (though even that is up for debate). 

As social norms and gender roles shift with the times, so, too, does the concept of chivalry

History.com touches on how Cervantes' satire booted out the old Medieval ways

Activity: Open for Debate

Watch the video of Steve Harvey responding to an audience member's experiences on the bus. Do you think Steve is right?

Theme: How Do We Care for Our Elders?

In the play, the elderly main character is taken care of by his family (Fun fact: the original Quixote was only 50). They struggle to keep him safe- from his own imagination, mostly- as he slips further into dementia.  


How do we take care of the ones we love? Whose job is it to look after those who can’t do it themselves?  

Different cultures have different ways of interacting with and caring for their older generations. 

Tony Luciani picked up a camera in 2014 to document his aging mom's struggle with dementia, beginning a four-year-long voyage of discovery.

Creative Care - It takes a Literal Village

Sometimes caregivers find themselves helping aging parents while raising young children at the same time. While the "sandwich generation" may be growing in ranks, it's not always an option.


Communities are finding more and more that the answer may be found in unexpected places. These creative solutions to elder care range from community outreach to building literal villages. 

Creative care solution: day care centers paired with nursing homes

Copyright Alley Theatre Education & Community Engagement 2015.