4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Oceanside Theater Company’s Man of La Mancha shows the tragedy of Don Quixote

To reclaim ideals and virtue

Rudy Martinez as Don Quixote, and Steve Lawrence as Sancho Panza, in the Oceanside Theatre Company production of Man of La Mancha.
Rudy Martinez as Don Quixote, and Steve Lawrence as Sancho Panza, in the Oceanside Theatre Company production of Man of La Mancha.

“Facts are the enemy of truth!” says Don Quixote in the musical Man of La Mancha. Soon after, he adds, “I think reality is in the eye of the beholder.”

Man Of La Mancha

Perhaps that’s why the 1965 Broadway musical and Tony winner is experiencing a bit of a resurgence of late. A new production just launched in London’s famed West End; another will play at the Horton Grand Theater this fall. At the moment, the Oceanside Theatre Company is staging a production at the Sunshine Brooks Theater, which runs til May 26.

The subjectivity of facts has become a popular concern, given the politics of the past few years, as the promised democratization of speech delivered by the information age has mainly served to fragment our once shared perception of objective reality. Now, for every news report suggesting one truth, there appears another claiming the opposite. Armed with contradictory so-called facts, we are left to bicker with one another online over which reality should prevail.

In La Mancha, as in the novel that inspired it, Don Quixote sees a world of magic-endowed enemies that can be overcome only by the incorruptible nobility of a knight-errant. Plenty of characters try to call the Don’s attention to empirical truths, and even his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza points out that the ogre Quixote attempts to fight is actually a windmill. Is it? Or, as Quixote suggests, has the ogre cleverly transformed himself into a windmill to escape justice? Such reversals of logic have become familiar in 2019.

Knightly quests were already an antiquated notion when Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes published the musical’s source material, the novel Don Quixote. That was in 1605, a century after Columbus, a colonial era during which Spain became flush with wealth and military might. Through the 16th century, it was the undisputed most powerful country on the planet, with unprecedented global influence. But even as the 17th century began, it was an empire in decline: its armada stretched thin and no longer invincible, its economy dependent on colonial holdings that were beginning to escape its grasp. Even as Spain tried to maintain its might, the institutions that controlled it — the church and aristocracy — contributed no taxes to the state, overburdening the lower classes instead, and ultimately diminishing what we nowadays call gross domestic product.

In such a time and place, under circumstances that echo our own, perhaps it’s not Quixote’s disdain for facts that resonated, but that he resisted the argument over them in a quest to reclaim ideals and virtue.

The tragedy of Don Quixote isn’t that he can’t discern the reality before him, it’s that his compatriots view his optimistic notion — that honor can be reclaimed in a world of prevailing self-interest — as insanity. His niece and heir sees him as doddering, her fiancé as a family embarrassment. The prostitute he puts on a pedestal as the virtuous Lady Dulcinea sees him as a nonsensical madman.

We’re no less jaded today. Even within the musical, the audience doesn’t directly root for Don Quixote, but for the character Miguel de Cervantes. La Mancha’s protagonist is the author himself, who finds himself imprisoned for questioning by the Spanish Inquisition, and acts out the story of Quixote as a play within a play, to prevent fellow inmates from destroying his manuscript. The structure suggests that a contemporary audience cannot suspend disbelief enough to accept Quixote’s fantastic optimism. We need an extra degree of separation, the assurance that such an idea could prevail only as fiction.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

El Cajon Oktoberfest, Glorious, Kiss and David Lee Roth

Events September 24-September 25, 2021
Next Article

Transforming life with The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproule

“I am a sinful man among sinful men — and I need redemption.”
Rudy Martinez as Don Quixote, and Steve Lawrence as Sancho Panza, in the Oceanside Theatre Company production of Man of La Mancha.
Rudy Martinez as Don Quixote, and Steve Lawrence as Sancho Panza, in the Oceanside Theatre Company production of Man of La Mancha.

“Facts are the enemy of truth!” says Don Quixote in the musical Man of La Mancha. Soon after, he adds, “I think reality is in the eye of the beholder.”

Man Of La Mancha

Perhaps that’s why the 1965 Broadway musical and Tony winner is experiencing a bit of a resurgence of late. A new production just launched in London’s famed West End; another will play at the Horton Grand Theater this fall. At the moment, the Oceanside Theatre Company is staging a production at the Sunshine Brooks Theater, which runs til May 26.

The subjectivity of facts has become a popular concern, given the politics of the past few years, as the promised democratization of speech delivered by the information age has mainly served to fragment our once shared perception of objective reality. Now, for every news report suggesting one truth, there appears another claiming the opposite. Armed with contradictory so-called facts, we are left to bicker with one another online over which reality should prevail.

In La Mancha, as in the novel that inspired it, Don Quixote sees a world of magic-endowed enemies that can be overcome only by the incorruptible nobility of a knight-errant. Plenty of characters try to call the Don’s attention to empirical truths, and even his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza points out that the ogre Quixote attempts to fight is actually a windmill. Is it? Or, as Quixote suggests, has the ogre cleverly transformed himself into a windmill to escape justice? Such reversals of logic have become familiar in 2019.

Knightly quests were already an antiquated notion when Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes published the musical’s source material, the novel Don Quixote. That was in 1605, a century after Columbus, a colonial era during which Spain became flush with wealth and military might. Through the 16th century, it was the undisputed most powerful country on the planet, with unprecedented global influence. But even as the 17th century began, it was an empire in decline: its armada stretched thin and no longer invincible, its economy dependent on colonial holdings that were beginning to escape its grasp. Even as Spain tried to maintain its might, the institutions that controlled it — the church and aristocracy — contributed no taxes to the state, overburdening the lower classes instead, and ultimately diminishing what we nowadays call gross domestic product.

In such a time and place, under circumstances that echo our own, perhaps it’s not Quixote’s disdain for facts that resonated, but that he resisted the argument over them in a quest to reclaim ideals and virtue.

The tragedy of Don Quixote isn’t that he can’t discern the reality before him, it’s that his compatriots view his optimistic notion — that honor can be reclaimed in a world of prevailing self-interest — as insanity. His niece and heir sees him as doddering, her fiancé as a family embarrassment. The prostitute he puts on a pedestal as the virtuous Lady Dulcinea sees him as a nonsensical madman.

We’re no less jaded today. Even within the musical, the audience doesn’t directly root for Don Quixote, but for the character Miguel de Cervantes. La Mancha’s protagonist is the author himself, who finds himself imprisoned for questioning by the Spanish Inquisition, and acts out the story of Quixote as a play within a play, to prevent fellow inmates from destroying his manuscript. The structure suggests that a contemporary audience cannot suspend disbelief enough to accept Quixote’s fantastic optimism. We need an extra degree of separation, the assurance that such an idea could prevail only as fiction.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Everyone has a spot at the rail

San Diego, home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.
Next Article

Last topless bar in North San Diego County

Price of land prevents re-opening of the Main Attraction
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close