Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

Food & Drink: It’s been a year since I’ve taken up this gig of eating and drinking across San Antonio. Since then, no fewer than seven juice shops have opened in the area... By Jessica Elizarraras 8/20/2014
Big Hops Gastropub Brings Beer-centric Eats to the Northside

Big Hops Gastropub Brings Beer-centric Eats to the Northside

Food & Drink: On a recent Sunday, my wife and I drove up 281 and into the heart of San Antonio’s ever-expanding Northside suburbs to try out... By Lance Higdon 8/20/2014
Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Screens: Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits in a confessional, waiting. An unseen man enters the box and says, “The first time I tasted semen, I was seven... By David Riedel 8/20/2014
SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

Arts & Culture: See, there is this place where people participate in a ritual derived from the verbal tradition of telling and retelling stories to a room of bodies... By Melanie Robinson 8/20/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Arts & Culture

David Davalos Sends 'Hamlet' Back to School

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Davalos will return to SA to play Faustus in Wittenberg


David Davalos says that his goal in writing Wittenberg, which opens November 1 at the Cellar Theater, was “to ruin Hamlet for anyone who sees it after this.” Davalos’ witty and wise theatrical mash-up, subtitled A Tragical-Comical-Historical in Two Acts, imagines the Prince of Denmark in college before the tragic denouement in Elsinore—not only torn between to be or not to be, but unable to decide on a major. Two famous professors, pious Martin Luther and skeptical John Faustus, contend for his allegiance.

Wittenberg received its world premiere in Philadelphia in 2008 and has been staged in 19 other cities, including New York, London, Berlin, Vancouver and Melbourne. The playwright—who is pleased that, as he says, “There have been no dog productions yet”—is in San Antonio not to intimidate director Bill Gundry and his cast during two weeks of rehearsal, but to play the part of Doctor Faustus. It is also a homecoming for Davalos, who caught the acting bug at Eisenhower Middle School and Churchill High School. He received a BFA in theater from University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in theater from Ohio University. He’ll be joined onstage by high-school chum Andrew Thornton, playing Martin Luther, in the Playhouse’s production.

Born in Alabama, where his father, Rudy, was assistant coach of the Auburn University basketball team, Davalos moved to Texas when Rudy was hired to be assistant coach of an ABA team that had just moved from Dallas—the San Antonio Spurs. In a career that earned him a place in the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, Rudy took over as UTSA’s first athletic director in 1976. Paternal legacy might have influenced a scene in Wittenberg in which Hamlet and Laertes face off in tennis.

Davalos had plenty of practice plundering literature and history for theatrical concoctions before crafting Wittenberg. He conflated Hamlet and Death of a Salesman for a piece titled New Yorick, New Yorick and had Leonardo da Vinci conversing with Lucrezia Borgia and Niccoló Machiavelli in Daedalus. Darkfall was written as a modern sequel to Paradise Lost. Over lunch at Green, he recalled playing Rosencrantz in a production of Hamlet and, during the long intervals offstage, pondering Shakespeare’s play in new ways. A couple of questions tantalized him: “What was Hamlet doing in school before Hamlet?” and “How did Hamlet get to the scene in which he spies on Claudius praying?” Davalos became convinced by Stephen Greenblatt’s contention, in his 2001 book Hamlet in Purgatory, that: “Hamlet is a Protestant play haunted by a Catholic ghost.”

Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which promotes two minions to leading men, is the classic of Shakespearean mash-ups, but Davalos rather pays tribute to Stoppard’s Travesties—“the Ur-play for an entire genre mixing the fictional and the historical. I just fell in love with that play.” He also has experience directing Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, in which the Spanish artist and Albert Einstein meet at a bar in Montmartre. Crucial to Travesties, which throws together James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara, is the specific setting, 1917 Zurich. Davalos became intrigued by Renaissance Wittenberg, where Hamlet spent his student years, but also where, on the entrance to All Saints’ Church, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses that launched the Protestant Reformation. “It was a time and place somewhat like Berkeley in the 1960s, a center for intellectual ferment,” says the playwright. By having Hamlet, Faustus and Luther interact in Wittenberg in October, 1517, Davalos casts light on and makes light of the philosophy, theology and politics that vexed the 16th century.

Recently in Arts & Culture
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus