"Negociando la identidad femenina en Penélope de Jorge Dávila Vásquez."
Daniel Rogers, Wabash College
Resumen: In the fall of 2013, one of New York City's premier Spanish language theater groups debuted Penélope, a new play by the distinguished Ecuadorian playwright and poet, Jorge Dávila Vásquez. The play was well received and Teatro Vanguardia (a theater company with a strong following in Washington Heights) entered their production in the IV Annual festival of Spanish Theater hosted by the Dominican Cultural Commission were it received a positive and strong critical reception.
Penélope is a one-woman play set in the Andes Mountains in the contemporary era. The drama centers on the life of the eponymous protagonist whose husband, a schemer and trickster, has left on a long trip to the coast in search of work, In his absence, Penelope takes a chair, parasol, and her sewing chores to the Inca Highway every day to sit, embroider, and wait for him . As the play progresses, members of her family, friends, townsfolk, and the local priest come to visit, pester, and court. Dávila Vasquez' text deftly knits the struggles of a single mother in contemporary South America onto the larger backdrop of Homeric epic poetry.
In my 20-minute paper, I examine the relationship between classical poetic tropes and the contemporary realities of female subjectivity in the Ecuadorian sierra as articulated in the play, I pay particular attention to the elision of a classic understanding of Penelope as a trickster in her own right and the rhetorical maneuverings her contemporary analog in Davila Vasquez' drama. I show that the protagonist uses colloquial language and familiar cultural motifs to navigate issues of identity in a traditionally patriarchal context.