Recently, my Spanish seminar, which focuses on the works of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, went to New York City to see La Zapatera Prodigiosa, or The Prodigious Shoemaker’s Wife. The play is a farce: a short, satirical work which focuses on the drama between an old, world-weary shoemaker and his young, spirited wife. My class studied this work the week before we saw it, reading the original play as well as critical analyses. However, seeing it live was a completely different experience.
(One of the best things about Swarthmore’s location is that by virtue of being near Philadelphia and New York City, classes can often take trips to either place to supplement the classroom learning. This is nice since having so much to do on campus means that it can sometimes be difficult getting off campus. And it’s very convenient going off campus for a class because everything is all planned and paid for.)
For the trip to NYC, the whole class and our professor, María-Luisa Guardiola, piled into a Swarthmore College van and settled in for the hour and a half drive to the city. During the ride down, I used the opportunity to catch up on readings for my genetics class. By the time we arrived, everyone was starving. Thankfully, Professor Guardiola had booked us a table at Bar Jamón, a modern tapas restaurant.
Over the course of our lunch, we sampled Spanish omelets with garlic aioli, yogurt dip and caviar for house-made potato chips, salmorejo—a creamy and cold tomato soup—and preserved ham from Spain, among other culinary delights. I felt like I was living in an immersive Spanish experience, since—of course—we were also talking in Spanish the whole time.
The cherry on top of the whole day was our main purpose for being in the city—La Zapatera Prodigiosa. In small groups we walked from the restaurant to the theatre, El Repertorio Español. This theatre specializes in productions of Spanish-language plays, and the Iberian feel was accented by the cheery red flag outside of the venue and the swirled-red curtain over the set.
The production itself was wonderful. The spying neighbors, a boisterous mayor, and the cheeky Zapatera herself made the play come to life. After the play ended and our class piled into the car to head home, we debriefed, comparing our opinions about the play. Aside from the intellectual satisfaction of being able to discuss a work in such detail with smart, thoughtful people, I also felt intensely grateful for having the opportunity to have this experience which wouldn’t have been possible outside of Swarthmore.