Saturday, August 30, 2008

Q and A: Choose Your Own Adventure

QUESTION – Red Tape’s Adaptation of Dog in a Manger has gone through multiple endings in the writing process. How did Lope de Vega end the original?

ANSWER – I’ll keep the Red Tape production spoiler free. If you don’t want de Vega’s original ending revealed, read no further.

Still with me? The central conflict of de Vega's The Dog in the Manger involves a Countess who falls for her secretary, Teodoro. The Countess can not have the lower class man for herself but cannot abide his engagement to another. Teodoro’s servant Tristan cons an old nobleman, Ludovico, into claiming Teodoro as his long lost son. The Countess sees through the deception and must decide whether or not to play along.

Lope de Vega was able to claim his Deux Ex Machina and mock it too. In a different play Teodoro’s noble parentage would be true, but in de Vega’s play it is blatantly contrived and few believe it. Through Ludovico the playwright mocks the shallowness of social prestige as well as the impossibility of theatrical happy endings.

In Red Tape’s adaptation the Countess has the Inquisition and her own pride to deal with along with class prejudice. While the character of Ludovico was experimented with in the workshops he has since been cut from our script, leaving our protagonists with no easy solutions.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on Dog in a Manger visit

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Q and A: Chaos is a Snake

QUESTION – In Red Tape’s adaptation of Dog in a Manger, a philosopher speaks of a snake affixed to the soil by “the staff of Hermes.” What is the origin of this tale?

ANSWER – The staff of Hermes, or caduceus, comes from Greek myth. The traditional image depicts a staff with wings and two snakes wrapped around it. Another Greek symbol, the rod of Asclepius, features a single snake round a staff and no wings. The American Medical Association includes the latter in its logo, and both have been associated with healing.

While snakes have been gods, or battled gods, in many ancient religions and myths the Greek god Hermes is said to have used his staff to split two warring snakes, bringing peace between them. Hermes was known as the messenger of the gods and a protector to athletes, travelers and thieves.

In Dog in a Manger the servant Tristan comes across the story during his travels. He seeks to bring peace to his unstable home and separate the furious lady of the household from her equally dangerous foes. What he finds on his travels solves one problem, and causes others.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on Dog in a Manger visit

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Q and A: The Map of Borges

QUESTION – In Red Tape’s adaptation of Dog in a Manger, the Countess Belflor tells a story about the map of Borges. What is the origin of this tale?

ANSWER – The story Del Rigor en la Ciencia (On Rigor in Science) was written by Jorge Luis Borges and first published in 1946. A translation by Andrew Hurley reads:

“In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless.”

The map was at last allowed to rot, revealing the true kingdom underneath. The story was referenced by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard in his 1985 treatise Simulacra and Simulation which Red Tape Theatre studied in our lab series last season. Baudrillard writes:

“The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it…. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself.”

In a society where the genteel social codes have failed to obscure their underlying prejudices the Countess Belflor finds the map of Borges a most appropriate example.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on Dog in a Manger visit here:

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Many Loves of Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) married two women, seduced many more, sired at least ten children, and wrote over 1000 plays before ending his life as a member of the priesthood. While he created many strong roles for women, his witty heroines were often as mistreated and abused as his own mistresses.

On such mistress, the actress Elena Osario first crossed paths with de Vega in 1583. Their passionate affair was ended when she married a wealthy protector. He made her the subject of a scathing novel, Dorotea, in which the heroine misuses her lover and her new husband in turn. Extra venom was unleashed against the character of Dorotea’s mother who arranges the marriage to secure her families fortunes. The ensuing libel suit resulted in de Vega’s temporary banishment from Madrid. Incriminating love letters were used as evidence in the trial (and a device in his plays).

Despite his wild lifestyle de Vega was beloved by king, country, military and church. “Es de Lope” became a descriptive phrase for anything of high quality. He even spent some time in the Inquisition: “The Spanish Inquisition accepted him by making him one of its judges. He became official censor and granter of the indisepensible nihil obstat, or imprimatur.” (Hayes, Francis C., Lope de Vega, Twayne Publishers Inc., 1967) The imprimatur was the declaration that a book was moral and acceptable for Roman Catholic readers. de Vega new a thing or two about the power of writing. The disconnect between his social roles and his passions would continue to be channeled through the characters in his plays as his career blossomed.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on Dog in a Manger visit here:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Q and A - Can Ricardo Get Married?

Rehearsals for Dog in a Manger have begun and I've decided to use the blog as a spot for answering actor questions, like this one that came up in the workshop.

QUESTION – If you make Diana's suitor, Ricardo, an Inquisitor, is he still allowed to marry?

ANSWER – Yes. The Spanish Inquisition accepted laymen as well as clergy into their ranks. Ricardo need not be a priest to reach the rank of inquisitor.

Historian Henry Kamen writes:

"Contrary to the image – still widely current – of inquisitors as small-minded clerics and theologians fanatically dedicated to the extirpation of heresy, it must be stressed that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at least, the inquisitors were an elite bureaucracy. Because the Inquisition was a court, its administrators had to be trained lawyers…. By the same token, inquisitors did not have to be clergy and could be laymen. All this shows that the inquisitors were in principle a bureaucracy not of the Church but of the State: they received their training in the same institutions that contributed personnel to the councils of state, corregidorships and high courts…. [For many] service in the Inquisition was merely a stepping stone to a further career."

(Inquisition and society in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1985)

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on Dog in a Manger visit here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Changing World

One of my favorite themes with Dog in a Manger is how one deals with a changing world. Often the changes in life are beyond our control and we adjust out of necessity. But every now and again, a new, positive path opens up to us and we instinctively resist even that. Why? Because it's new. It breaks our cycle. Like getting a new job and realizing, five years later, that you have stopped remembering what the neighborhoods you drove through to get home look like. Your automated senses are thrown and your comfort realm has to shift. You have to grow.

Selfishly, I must admit that I probably cling to this theme because I am the newest company member of Red Tape. I have been given the opportunity to express my artistic vision and contribute to the company's atheistic and message. Now I have to figure out what that means, exactly. How do I fit into this group that has lasted without me for five years? How do I help define RTC? How can RTC define me?

DIM is a perfect show to come into with these questions. The avant-grade nature of the work along with it being adapted by another company member means that I get to grow alongside of the production itself. All of the discoveries made by the director and designers, the cast and crew, I will make along with them. I will see how our patrons respond to the themes and images presented and become entrenched in their thoughts, concerns, beliefs, and joys.

Throughout the workshop process of the play alone, I have already started to see a way for me aid the theatre. And in turn, being a part of Red Tape has helped me understand why it is I am a dramatic addict and why it is my favorite form of communication.

A. Zell Williams
Artistic Associate

For more information on Dog in a Manger click here:

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Inquisition Unmasked by Antonio Puigblanch

In recent drafts of Red Tape's adaptation of The Dog in the Manger the Countess Diana is persecuted for writing inflammatory pamphlets about the Spanish Inquisition. I've been exploring Historian Henry Kamen's wonderful books on the Inquisition and thought I'd share his citation from the pamphlets of Antonio Puigblanch, published in 1811.

  1. The Inquisition being an ecclesiastical tribunal, its rigour is incompatible with the spirit of meekness which ought to distinguish the ministers of the Gospel.
  2. The system of rigour adopted by this tribunal is opposed to the doctrine of the Holy Fathers and the discipline of the Church in its most happy times.
  3. The Inquisition, far from contributing to the preservation of the true belief, is only suited to encourage hypocrisy and excite the people to rebellion.
  4. The form of trial used in this tribunal tramples on all the rights of the citizen.
  5. The Inquisition has not only obstructed the progress of science in the countries wherein it has been established, but has also propagated pernicious errors.
  6. The tribunal has supported the despotism of kings, and has itself exercised it.
  7. As the Inquisition owes its origin to the decline of the discipline and remissness of the clergy, it opposes obstacles to their reform, which is indispensably necessary if the nation is to prosper.

(Kamen, Henry, The Spanish Inquisition, New American Library, 1965).

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge
For more information on The Dog in the Manger click here: