"It's pretty layered," Caroline Reck says of Glass Half Full Theatre Company's take on Don Quixote. "We traditionally do puppets, often mixing them with human performers, and that's definitely the case this time." The idea behind Don Quixote de La Redo isn't as simple as just adding puppets to the classic Cervantes tale, though.
"We thought, 'let's set it where we are, so Texas/Mexico... throw him loose on the borderlands in the desert and see what he would do,'" says Reck, adding that Glass Half Full also "decided to set it in the future, in a time when his story has been forgotten."
Being set in the future, at the Texas/Mexico border, it was only natural to incorporate the border wall into the story. "This was an imaginary border wall in our heads, when we thought this was a facetious idea that anybody would build a border wall," Reck says (Don Quixote de La Redo was conceived before the November election). "So we thought, 'okay, we'll make it a barricade of objects that this society no longer finds of value and has thrown out -- obviously books.'"
Once that concept was in place, the story flowed from there. Reck and costar Gricelda Silva play X and Y, two border wall technicians, who encounter Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (played here by two puppets), who have been trapped inside their own discarded books. Also onhand is Miguel de Cervantes himself (played by Rudy Ramirez), who serves as a narrator but is also a full-fledged character in his own right. "He has to come to terms with what his creation has become and what it can be," says Ramirez.
Though the play deals with some important themes, it's a comedy at heart. "Being in the rehearsal room is just fun," says Silva. "The script is all in Spanglish, so it's been fun to figure out 'Oh, these words in English and Spanish make a lot of sense if we do this with them."
"A lot of the work that Glass Half Full does is to take a situation... and then try to find the humor within the human folly inherent in that situation," says Reck. "So we created a situation that looks pretty dire, but then there a lot of funny things that happen inside it."