¡Pre-Textos por primera vez en Madrid!

December 07, 2018

Prof. Doris Sommer, Faculty-Director of Cultural Agents, and Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures reflects on the Pre-Texts workshop she facilitated in Cañada Real, Madrid.

Read the report in Spanish at the following link: Informe Taller Madrid

Read the report in English at the following link: Pre Texts In Madrid Workshop Report


The “World Forum on Violence Prevention and Education” convened in Madrid, “A City of Peace,” from November 5-8 of 2018. I accepted an invitation to participate because the local city government of Vicálvaro would host a training workshop in Pre-Texts for community leaders, teachers, and members of the municipal staff. The 15 hour program over 4 days began, as always, with theater warm-ups lifted from Augusto Boal’s collection of Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Then, two well educated participants of the Pre-Texts workshop in Cañada Real (November 5-8, 2018) prepared to read the chosen text aloud. They were visibly worried and doubted whether I knew where I was. “These people won’t understand Antigone by Sophocles.” I asked them to wait and see.

Other highlights include the moment when an illiterate Gypsy woman asked a companion to help write down the couplets we were all composing from words in the text, and then to whisper reminders so that she could read her creation aloud, taking her turn among the rest of us. Another highlight is learning Romani words in a translation session hosted by the Gypsy participants who could feel their superior command of a language we struggled to learn in bits; and then the lesson in Arabic script to transliterate our favorite – or most challenging – words. We learned, for example, that the Madrid is an Arabic name: Ma=water; drid=good. We might never have known this, living in that very city, were it not for sharing expertise and for the generosity of spirit generated in the workshop.

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