Onstage: Fuente Ovejuna

Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna, presented by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, tells of an actual historical event from the 15th century. The citizens of Fuente Ovejuna rise up and murder a brutal commander who was abusing the power given him to oversee

We think a playwright today is prolific if he or she creates a dozen works. But that would have constituted little more than warming up for Lope de Vega, a Spanish contemporary of Shakespeare who claimed to have written 1,500 scripts. Even if that was an exaggeration, close to 500 texts are still around — most of them written in clever, lyrical verse.

This summer, reflecting Cincinnati Opera’s Spanish season, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will offer one of Lope de Vega’s great works, Fuente Ovejuna. The play was written around 1614 and based on an actual historical event from the 15th century, a tale of the citizens of Fuente Ovejuna rising up and murdering a brutal commander who abused the power given him to oversee their town. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sent an emissary to investigate the rebellion, the villagers banded together and simply answered that the town itself was responsible for the commander’s death. Despite the emissary’s efforts, no further explanation was forthcoming — eventually the King and Queen personally visited the town, heard a fuller explanation and pardoned the villagers.

While it might not strike you as summer theater fare, it’s full of Lope de Vega’s flair for action, humor and romance. The presentation by Cincinnati Shakespeare is in the form of a staged reading at 7:30 p.m. It’s pay-what-you-can, but the suggested donation is $5.

Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.

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