Theme: 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? Why imagine a different life at all?
Watch the video for Octavio's take on Quijano's delusions.
The Pros of Imagination
"When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?" -Man of La Mancha
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 imagination- that's why so many adaptations, so many artworks, have latched on to this fantastical, larger-than-life character.
The Cons of Delusion
"...there is a world of difference between the voluntary, playful engagement of the imagination, and the involuntary descent into psychosis." -Psychiatric Times
José 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 and delusions are non-voluntary. Your mind and body think they are real. They even work in a different part of your brain than your imagination.
The Pull of Meta-Fiction
In the original text, Cervantes embraces metafiction to the nth degree. The author becomes his own sort of character, talking to the audience directly. He uses stories-with-stories-within-stories, giving himself plenty of room for commentary and creating a conversation between fiction and reality. Cheeky.
Quick Listen: Radiolab explores why we're drawn to blurring the lines of fiction & reality
Theme: 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 whom you ask.
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.
Want to bump into this while walking the dog? Ni thank you.
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).
Click on the picture to see History.com's take on the ebb and flow of chivalry- including how Cervantes' satire put the concept on the chopping block.
Do we need chivalry? It's open for debate!
As social norms and gender roles shift with the times, so, too, does the concept of chivalry.
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?
Tony Luciani documents his aging mom's struggle with dementia.
It Takes a Village...Literally.
Creative care: daycare centers paired with nursing homes
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.