First English translation of ‘Antona Garcia’ opens at GV

Courtesy Photo / Dale Schriemer
Performing Antonia Garcia in Texas

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Dale Schriemer Performing Antonia Garcia in Texas

Stephanie Allen

The Grand Valley State University-translated play “Antona Garcia” premieres at the Louis Armstrong Theatre on the Allendale Campus next week, with seven performances over two weekends, starting March 30.

GVSU Spanish professor Jason Yancey and theater professor James Bell worked to translate the play from its original Spanish composition into the first English adaptation.

Along with GVSU theater professor Karen Libman, Bell and Yancey traveled to the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, with 29 students to perform the play at the Siglo de Oro Spanish Drama Festival March 6 through 8.

The two performances went extremely well, and the very diverse audience and festival scholars really enjoyed speaking with the GVSU students, Yancey said.

“I was able to chat with some of the scholars, who are friends of mine afterward and they had wonderful things to say,” Yancey said. “They loved the costuming, they loved the scenery, they loved the action sequences, they enjoyed the translation — there were lots of good comic laugh responses to the translation and to the way things were presented.”

The festival’s founder even talked to Yancey about how impressed he was with the GVSU students and how enthusiastic and passionate they were.

“He said, ‘You know, more universities in the country should be doing exactly what you guys are doing and getting their students involved in a meaningful way,’” Yancey said.

The GVSU performances will feature a slightly larger cast and a full set, which they were unable to take with them to Texas.

“Seeing it now with eight more bodies on stage, it was just like you could feel there’s so much more energy — it’s very exciting,” Bell said. “It will look better here than it looked down there in Chamizal.”

Even though it’s a Spanish drama, audiences do not have to have any knowledge of the language to enjoy the show, Bell said. The “Antona Garcia” production is mostly in English, with 12 of Yancey’s Spanish students performing Entremeses in Spanish between acts. Their messages are easily received through comedic acting, Yancey said.

Learning to speak some Spanish and with an accent was tough for Sarah Tyron, who plays the villainous character Maria, but she now does it very well, Bell said.

“It took me a really long time to be able to pronounce a lot of the Spanish words. I’ve taken French for seven years, but Spanish, I got a lot of laughs for a while,” Tyron said.

The adventure romance will keep audiences entertained being packed with sword fights and “chick-fights,” and if audiences don’t know anything about Spanish Golden Age theatre, it doesn’t matter because they will still be entertained, Tyron said.

And entertaining is the main goal of any theater performance.

“Hopefully [audiences] will just get a ride out of it,” Tyron said. “It’s battle-heavy, and then there’s the villain, who I play, there’s the love-romance blossoming in it and just all these really strong characters.”

Bell and Yancey said students should not miss the opportunity to see this play because there isn’t another university doing what they have.

Tickets can be purchased in the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office or through Ticketmaster.

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