SUNY Sullivan Theater Program Presents Wild Thing/La Serrana de la Vera

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The SUNY Sullivan Theater Arts Program is proud to present Wild Thing, an exciting performance of Harley Erdman’s first-ever English translation of Luis Vélez de Guevara’s 1613 play La Serrana de la Vera. This long-forgotten tragedy, translated by Erdman in 2019 as The Mountain Girl from La Vera, has come back into focus in recent years because of its extraordinary protagonist, Gila, a peasant girl who calls herself a man and takes fierce pride in doing things men do. Gila (from Erdman’s introduction on his translation) “has been variously described as feminist, homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual, hybrid, queer, and transgender . . . It may be that the contemporary category “transgender” offers the best frame for Gila – that is, someone at odds with the gender assigned to them at birth.” Highly relevant today, Wild Thing features broad comedy, even slapstick, but in the end veers into violence and tragedy.

Wild Thing opens Friday, October 8, at 6:30 pm. Performances continue Saturday, October 9, at 6:30 pm, Sunday, October 10, at 6:30 pm, and Wednesday–Saturday, October 13–16, at 6:30 pm. The production will be performed outdoors in front of SUNY Sullivan’s Hope Farm. There are no rain dates. Patrons can park in parking lot #1, and walk to the grassy area in front of the performance area. Please bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on. Masks are required for patrons viewing the performance. Audience members are encouraged to wear Renaissance faire garments. For more information, contact Jessica López-Barkl at jbarkl@sunysullivan.edu.

Wild Thing/La Serrana de la Vera is directed by Jessica López-Barkl, associate professor of theater and speech at SUNY Sullivan and assistant directed by Willahna Burdick, a founding member of Howdy Killers and
New Visions Inclusive Performing Arts Company, two emerging theater companies comprised of theater artists that have been a part of SUNY Sullivan’s Theater Program.

López-Barkl highlighted that producing Wild Thing, a play full of dramatic confrontations, especially swordfights, has given her and Nick López, fight choreographer for the production, an opportunity to share with Theater Arts students their experiences studying and performing stage combat scenes. “We both have been in a number of classical pieces that require fights, so, yes, it takes some training to know the terms and moves well enough to turn them into choreography for the students,” said López-Barkl, noting that many of the students have taken professional developments from SUNY Sullivan’s Theater Arts Program or at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. “Some of the students are brand new to the work in this production, and we start with the basic attacks and blocks (or parries). We also train them with wooden dowels, initially.”

Wild Thing/La Serrana de la Vera synopsis
(From the study guide published for the UMass production): Gila returns home to their mountain village from a successful hunting trip to find their father, Giraldo, arguing with a Captain wishing to be lodged in their
home. The Captain is captivated by Gila, who is brash, masculine, and hostile to him, and is determined to dominate them. Through a series of games, fights, and duels with words, Gila proves to the Captain and the
already impressed villagers that they are a force to be reckoned with. Their triumphs earn them the affections of another man, the comic Mingo.

When the Captain decides to ask for Gila’s hand in marriage, they agree, imagining all of the possibilities and privileges the union would offer. The dream is soon cut short when he abandons Gila after their first night
together, sending Gila into a spiral of madness and revenge. Gila, who has always claimed themselves to be a man, now furiously takes up the mantle of “woman scorned,” exacting revenge on any unlucky man who
hikes through their mountains. After finally ensnaring the Captain in their trap, Gila is caught and forced to face punishment for their vengeful streak.

The 2021–22 SUNY Sullivan Theater season continues November 5–13 with, Blackdamp, by Bradley Diuguid (adjunct professor), directed by Nick López (adjunct professor). The play is about a young adult with autism
living in a rural area.

Other productions for the SUNY Sullivan Theater Program 2021–22 season include:
Rosemary with Ginger, by Edward Allan Baker, directed by Nick López (adjunct professor) November 19–21, 2021, Friday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm.
World AIDS Day performance of scenes and songs dealing with HIV/AIDS. December 1, 2021. Curated and organized by Callie Reardon, Theater Arts alumni.
The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler, coordinated by Jessica López-Barkl, Payton Powell (Theater Arts alumni), and Janine Grim Bukovinsky (Theater Arts alumni). February 11–12, 2022.
Next to Normal, book/lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Tom Kitt, directed by Nick López, music directed by Leon Hilfstein and Brandon Sparkman, featuring Jessica López-Barkl and Billy Steeves (Theater Arts alumni
and Equity Actor). March 30–April 9, 2022. This play deals with bipolar disorder and will open on World Bipolar Day.
Thank You / I’m Sorry*, by Brianna Worden and Janna Walter. Music composed by Brandon Sparkman. Directed by Jessica López-Barkl. May 6–14, 2022. This play is the first play about Neurofibromatosis, and a
world premiere opening during Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month.
*World Premiere.

For more information, contact Jessica López-Barkl at jbarkl@sunysullivan.edu.

About the Artists
Luis Vélez de Guevara, 1579–1644, was a Spanish dramatist and novelist. He was born at Écija and was of Jewish converso descent. He was the author of over four hundred plays, including Reinar despues de morir, La Luna de la Sierra, and El Diablo está en Cantillana. The play Más pesa el rey que la sangre, which translates into “The King weighs more than blood (kinship),” is based on the episode of the Reconquista in which the nobleman Alonso Pérez de Guzmán allows his son to be sacrificed, rather than surrender his King’s possession of Tarifa. However, Vélez de Guevara is most widely known as the author of El diablo cojuelo (1641, “The Lame Devil” or “The Crippled Devil”), a fantastic novel which suggested to Alain-Rene Lesage the idea for Le Diable boiteux (1707). The plot presents a rascal student that hides in an astrologer’s mansard. He frees a devil from a bottle. As an acknowledgement the devil shows him the garments of Madrid and the tricks, miseries and mischiefs of their inhabitants. A similar theme was suggested by the magic lenses in Los anteojos de mejor vista (1620-1625) by Rodrigo Fernández de Ribera. Charles Dickens refers to El diablo
cojuelo
in The Old Curiosity Shop, chapter thirty-three.

Harley Erdman, professor of theatre, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is a dramaturg, playwright, and scholar whose work focuses on adaptation and translation. His commissioned work as a translator of contemporary Latin American theater includes plays from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Chile. His Women Playwrights of Early Modern Spain (ITER, 2016) features his translations of ten plays, for the first time ever in English. It won the Josephine Roberts Award for best scholarly edition in the field of early modern women and gender. His translations of Tirso de Molina’s Jealous of Herself and Marta the Divine were published in 2012 in companion volumes by Aris & Phillips. With Susan Paun de García, he co-edited the anthology of essays, Remaking the Comedia (Tamesis, 2015). His most recent book project, a bilingual edition of Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La Serrana de la Vera, was published by the University of Liverpool Press in 2019 and produced at UMass under the title Wild Thing. He is a winner of the Association for Hispanic Classic Theater’s Translation Prize.


Jessica López-Barkl is an associate professor of theater and speech at SUNY Sullivan. She is also a freelance actor, director, dramaturg, and designer. Her recent directing work, produced at SUNY Sullivan, includes the
world-premiere of the jam-band musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure, entitled Marshall County Line (book/music/lyrics by Gabe Rikard); the musical Assassins (book by John Weidman, music/lyrics by Stephen Sondheim); Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks; and Ragtime, among many other productions. Her most recent acting work includes performances as Yvette in NACL Theatre’s Courage, a
foley artist in Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! at Shadowland Stages, Bobbi-Jo Krood in The Weather Project with NACL Theatre, and Nurse in Romeo and Juliet and Peasblossom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing
in repertory at Civic Plaza, Albuquerque, NM, produced by The Vortex Theater. López-Barkl has been in theater for more than 25 years, starting as a young actress in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and then studying theater with an emphasis in the Performing Arts at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. She then participated in the PATP program at Seattle Repertory Theatre, working as an assistant to Sharon Ott, Stephen Wadsworth, and Ping Chong. López-Barkl is an Equity Candidate and has worked as a director and actress in Idaho, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, and Connecticut. She has a BFA in acting from Cornish College of the Arts and an MFA in theater from Sarah Lawrence College.

About SUNY Sullivan
SUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers over 40 degree programs, certificates, and micro-credentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect. For more information go to sunysullivan.edu.