A Closer Look at Technical Aspects: Fuente Ovejuna

Paul PrestonŐs Times Literary Supplement review (reprinted in Types of Drama) of the Royal National Theatre of Great BritainŐs 1989 production of Fuente Ovejuna (the Declan Donnellan-directed production of the Mitchell translation reprinted in Types of Drama) begins: "Lope de VegaŐs epic of rape, looting and pillage, with its denouement of mass revenge and its coda of multiple torture, sets any director with almost insuperable problems" and continues "Lope treats this story with straightforward realismÉit is a work calling for more or less representational narrative, if not gallons of blood and a cast of thousands" (TLS 20Đ26 January 1989, p. 62). The greatest technical challenge for contemporary productions of Fuente Ovejuna lies in the performance of the extraordinary violence that typifies the language, themes, and story of LopeŐs play, from the uprising to the torture of Fuente OvejunaŐs villagers. Twentieth-century productions have both utilized illusionistic combat choreography, which is complicated and often dangerous, and non-realistic representations of conflict, as in the 1989 Royal National Theatre production, which comprised "a stylized and balletic orgy of mass violence" in the insurrection scene (Preston 62).

The group protagonist of Fuente Ovejuna presents another technical challenge, as well-received productions of the play have relied on imaginative staging to manage the throng of villagers whose number and unity are so significant to the play. The Times review of the 1992 revival of the Donnellan-directed Royal National Theatre production in Seville praises the directorŐs "inventive orchestration of group scenes," which gave "the village a pulsing communal life" (Harry Eyres, "Subversive Diversions," rev. of Fuenteovejuna, The Times 18 June 1992).

Fuente Ovejuna also calls for music and dancing; the CommanderŐs interruption of these serves as a particularly satisfying and theatrical moment in the major conflict of the play and underscores the thematics of harmony and disharmony. Contemporary productions have attempted to focus on these elements.

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