Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Siege of Numantia - A City Turns To Dust

The Siege of Numantia Directed by Cora Cardona.  Cast: Ignacio Lujan,
Sixto Orellana, Omar Padilla, Carlos Ayala, Sorany Gutiérrez, Leticia Alaniz, Marbella Barreto,
Enrique Arellano, Martin Mejía, Ninoshka Martinez, Nichole Sanchez 
A city has turned to dust out of the ashes of its people who called themselves Numantinos.  The blood of life ran like a river of death thru every corner and at every turn of the streets of the Iberian Peninsula; where the Celtiberian people had made their oppidum or fortified large settlement in the final centuries BC.  The citizens of Numancia had taken their own lives in order to prevent a brutal death at the hands of the Romans who had begun conquering Europe.  Terror wreaked loud and they feared for their beloved city.  Archeologically, Numancia’s bloodshed occurred in what is now north-central Spain.  

Leticia Alaniz in The Siege of Numantia
Directed by Cora Cardona
Teatro Dallas
Houses no longer had the sound of children’s laughter, nor the sweet smell of bread baking.  The people obeyed the orders of their leader Teógenes, whom would not allow their terrible fate to plunder their dignity.  They were to resist the Romans by their own hands with the blessings of their god Jupiter.  Thousands of logs were piled high, and they built a large fire in the middle of the city in its central plaza.  One by one, the Numantinos plunged themselves to their final breath before the forced entry of the Romans who were led by Scipión the consul, and his consort Jugurtha.  The Numantinos had deliberately crushed Scipión’s chances of a final victory for the Romans and his regal power was shadowed by shame.  

Enrique Arellano, Ignacio Lujan
Sixto Orellana in The Siege of Numantia
Photo Leticia Alaniz © 2016
The mission of the Romans was to capture Numancia, the ancient rich city of Hispaniola for the Roman empire.  But for sixteen years, the strong Numantinos resisted the war and their rebellion was powerful; they were few but fierce. 

Scipión had a strong iron army  that outnumbered the citizens of Numancia who were warriors and firm survivors.  With that in mind, Scipión knew that if he was to capture Numancia he had to build an outer wall around the city and isolate its citizens from any relief or provisions.  Therefore, the only way to capture the city was by starvation.  A nearby swamp was dammed and created a lake between the city walls and the outer wall that was built by Scipión’s army.  Seven towers were built interspersed to keep a watchful eye and prevent any escape from the desperate and starving people.  Sharp arrows were shot at anyone without mercy.

Omar Padilla & Sorany Gutiérrez in
The Siege of Numantia
Photo Leticia Alaniz © 2016
The gentle river Duero which surrounded the city was their only source of drinking water.  Greedily, Scipión captured it’s life giving flow and strung a large cable across with blades to prevent both boats and swimmers from leaving or entering the city.  The blockade of the river and the isolation caused death by starvation, but for the Numantinos it was preferable to starve rather than be captured by the Romans whom would brutally kill their men and enslave their women and children.

Teógenes, wishing for a peaceful outcome for his people, sent ambassadors to speak to Scipión and asked for their liberty and peace in return for a complete surrender.  But the bloodthirsty Scipión refused and offered Teógenes the flag of death.  Still, the city refused to surrender.  Starvation and dead bodies were the landscape, and cannibalism ensued.  The suicide of the remaining citizens in the fire was the dignified living death that never perished their memory.  Bravery was the face of the Numantinos and they overcame the ostentatious hand of the enemy.


Marbella Barreto as Mother Earth in
The Siege of Numantia
Photo Leticia Alaniz © 2016
The story of the Numantinos and the burning of their city was pinned by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1582 with his tragedy titled: El Cerco de Numancia/ The Siege of Numantia.  Cervantes enveloped the tragedy in descriptive dialogue and rhyme tercets, redondillas and octaves and it contains epic elements that describe allegorical figures and Spain as the Madre Tierra or Mother Earth.  Famine, domestic misery, rage, patriotism, love, and finally mass suicide play a key role in the tragic denouement.  

Leticia Alaniz, Carlos Ayala & Nichole Sánchez in
The Siege of Numantia Directed by Cora Cardona
Teatro Dallas
Artistic director Cora Cardona has brought to Teatro Dallas one of the best plays of the year by adapting a staging of the classical work that Cervantes gifted the world.  Cardona’s adaptation is an intricate weaving of an apocalyptic ambiance that reflects on past wars as well as current wars in which destruction, hunger, and sickness are the inevitable outcome.  Cardona’s vision shed light and political criticism on the condemnation of war by highlighting projections of the destruction of Syria, a current tragedy shaking the world that proves that the conquest of nations become the theater for tragedy and military, political and economic advancement.  It is the sacking of the weak in their bleak misery for the glory of the powerful.  

In some of the most horrific scenes of Cardona’s adaptation, the women bore arms with the men and cried for their slain.  Others slew their children with their own hands and threw them into the burning flames, considering death preferable to captivity.  Entire families set fire to their houses and cut their own throats.  They would not succumb to the Roman rule of making a desert of death and call it peace.  Immolation was the answer to combat slavery. 

Cardona mastered a visual staging of an allegorical Spain as a bleeding Mother Earth weeping for the pain and suffering caused upon her land and rivers and the death of her children in which blood played a central role. Celtiberian resistance to Rome was fierce, but Numancia had defied the Romans even if it was left to ashes.  

Cora Cardona is a master of the theater and she proved once again that her vision can be brought to life through the careful selection of an ensemble cast that can give voice to the tragedy of The Siege of Numancia.  It's a privilege to be a working actor and an honor to have had the opportunity to work once again on the stage of Teatro Dallas under the direction of Cora Cardona.  

The Siege Of Numantia Cast

Omar Padilla
Ignacio Lujan
Sixto Orellana
Sorany Gutiérrez
Marbella Barreto
Leticia Alaniz
Carlos Ayala
Enrique Arellano
Ninoshka Martínez
Martin Mejía
Nichole Sánchez
Fernando Lara
Omar Padilla in The Siege of Numantia
Directed by Cora Cardona
Photo Leticia Alaniz © 2016



Written by Leticia Alaniz © 2016

1 comment:

  1. It looks like an impressive play. the story line is quite powerful and the characters look so real and near to life. I hope it went great!

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