‘The feigned true’, Lope de Vega’s ‘Hamlet’


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The investigator David Castillejo rated ‘The feigned true‘ like “the ‘Hamlet’ of Lope de Vega». With this definition I wanted to point out the relevance of this comedy, which the Phoenix of Wits probably wrote in 1608, almost at the same time as his revolutionary treatise ‘New art of making comedies in this time’. Despite the fact that there are those who think that it is “Lope’s best work”, the text is not one of the best known of its author, and has never been staged by the
National Classical Theater Company
in his forty-four years of life.

Up to now. Tomorrow, the CNTC premieres at the Teatro de la Comedia (Covid has forced it to be delayed) a production of ‘Lo fingido true’ directed by its highest authority, Lluís Homar, and with a cast of fifteen performers led by Israel Elejalde, Arturo Querejeta, Maria Besant Y Aisa Perez.

Homar has opted for parity: there are seven actors and seven actresses (plus a musician, Miguel Huertas). «In Lope’s text there are not so many women, so there are actresses who play male roles. The actors have diverse backgrounds; some, like Ejejalde, return to the CNTC after a long period away from it, while several of the performers come from the different promotions of the Young National Classical Theater Company; Precisely to her and to her sixth promotion, reveals Homar, she is going to dedicate her efforts in the coming months.

Homar did not want, he adds, to resort to a playwright to make an adaptation, and the text -which was published in 1620 in the ‘Sixteenth Part of the Comedies of Lope de Vega Carpio’, with a dedication to Tirso de Molina– is presented in its entirety, with the exception, says the director, “of 121 verses that we have cut”. Some thirty characters appear in the montage, practically all those that Lope de Vega arranged.

Set in 3rd-century Rome, ‘Lo fegido true’ presents the Emperor Diocletian and Gines, «the best actor of the empire». Presented as a triptych, with three very different acts -a historical drama, a cloak-and-dagger comedy and a comedy of saints- in which, in the first act, the rise to power of the Emperor Diocletian is told. In the second, the Caesar asks Ginés to put on a play and he mixes fiction and reality to express his jealousy of the actress Marcela. In the last act, Ginés interprets with such reality the pretense of a baptism before the Roman emperor that he ends up believing the role, and becoming a saint.

Lluís Homar says that the two main themes of the production are «the theater within the theater, the metatheatre and the human being and the transcendent. What unites the two is the love that travels from one to the other, from the most mundane to the most transcendent. The work tells us about love as a tool: how to move from the human being placed on the pedestal of the universal to the human being placed at the service of the universal».

And the fact is that, continues the Catalan actor and director, “turning what is pretended into truth has been and is the purpose of theater from its origins; and it is because without that ability to create realities that can observe, overcome and transcend reality itself, the theater would lose one of its most fascinating attributes, allowing us to see the invisible: human emotions and souls».

The director concludes by assuring that all of Lope’s work is connected to his life. “The engine that led him to write the enormous number of literary treasures that we can enjoy was his infinite desire to live to the limit, turning love into a necessity without which everything seemed meaningless.”

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