NY Classical Theatre presents free reading of Force of Habit with all Latinx cast as part of its Diversifying the Classics series
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 10:54 am EDT 10/24/19

New York Classical Theatre
Force of Habit
by Guillén de Castro y Bellvís
as part of its Diversifying the Classics staged reading series,
featuring a Latinx cast, November 4-5

New York Classical Theatre (Stephen Burdman, Artistic Director), New York City’s all-free Off-Broadway Equity theatre company, will launch its 21st season with its Diversifying the Classics staged reading, presented by the New York City Council’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative and Arts Brookfield. The company will present the 17th century comedy Force of Habit (La Fuerza de la Costumbre), by Spanish playwright Guillén de Castro y Bellvís, and featuring an all-Latinx cast. The reading will be presented in an English language version translated by the UCLA Working Group on the Comedia in Translation in Performance.

The readings are free and open to the public, and will be presented from 7:00-9:00 PM on Monday, November 4 at Brookfield Properties’ Tata Innovation Center (11 East Loop Road, Roosevelt Island), and Tuesday, November 5 at Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street, Lower Manhattan). Casting, which will be announced soon, is by Stephanie Klapper Casting. For more information or to make a free reservation, visit www.nyclassical.org.

Can gender be learned and unlearned? In Force of Habit, Félix and Hipólita, two siblings separated at birth, are brought up in the habits of the opposite gender. Kept close by his mother’s side, Félix is sensitive. Hipólita, trained by her father on the battlefield, is fierce. When the family is reunited, the father insists on making the siblings conform to traditional gender roles. Helped along the way by their respective love interests, the two gradually assume traditional positions, but their journeys expose the limitations of the gender system.

Guillén de Castro y Bellvís (1569–1631) was born in Valencia, Spain and lived at the same time as William Shakespeare. He was highly involved with the literary world of Valencia, and at age 23 joined the Academia de los Nocturnos. After an active military career, he settled in Madrid, where his friend the playwright Lope de Vega helped him to find outlets for his work. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Castro was not afraid to tackle subjects that were thought to be taboo, in particular regicide, the formation of identity (gender), sexuality, and the troubled relationships of husbands and wives. Sometime before 1608, Castro wrote Don Quixote de la Mancha, a play which includes a dramatization of the Cardenio story in Cervantes’ famous novel. Some critics believe that Castro's play may be a link between the novel and Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s (now lost) 1612 play Cardenio. As a lyric and dramatic poet Castro had few if any superiors. He wrote some forty comedies, all of which show the inventive genius of the author, and they enjoyed great popularity both in and out of Spain. A haughty man, he antagonized his patrons and lived his last years in penury until his death in 1631.

NY Classical’s Force of Habit reading is sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos & the New York City Council Cultural Immigrant Initiative. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

About NY Classical:

NY Classical’s mission is to reinvigorate and create audiences for the theatre by presenting all-free productions of popular classics and forgotten masterpieces in public spaces throughout the five boroughs.

NY Classical firmly believes that the themes of the classics remain relevant to the lives of all New Yorkers today. Through the lens of classical theatre, we come to better understand human nature and our role in contemporary life. Our all-free performances build new and future audiences for live theatre by attracting many underserved and non-traditional spectators.

Now celebrating our 21st Season, we have served over 250,000 people with 42 all-free productions: The Importance of Being Earnest (2018), Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth (2017, 2008, 2001), The Rivals, The Winter’s Tale (2016, 2004), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016, 2000), Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew (2015, 2002), As You Like It (2014, 2005), The Tempest, The Seagull, A {15-Min!} Christmas Carol (2017, 2013, 2012), Twelfth Night (2012, 2002), Playing Moliere, Henry V, The School for Husbands, The Rover, Much Ado About Nothing (2010, 2003), Richard III, Hamlet, King Lear, Misalliance, Cymbeline, The Recruiting Officer, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Comedy of Errors, Mary Stuart, All’s Well That Ends Well, Scapin, The Feigned Courtesans, The Triumph of Love, and King Ubu.

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