The seeds of this anthology were planted at “Latinx Shakespeare: A Borderlands Drama Symposium,” which Katherine Gillen and Adrianna M. Santos hosted at Texas A&M University–San Antonio in 2018. Kathryn Vomero Santos, who was then teaching at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, presented at the event. The symposium brought together scholars, teachers, and theater practitioners to discuss how Latinx artists engage with Shakespeare and how to teach and perform Shakespeare in culturally relevant ways. The situatedness of the symposium in San Antonio, with its rich traditions of art and political activism, called attention to the need to study the specifics of making and remaking Shakespeare in the Borderlands. Audiences were particularly inspired by Josh Inocéncio’s play Ofélio, which was performed at the conference by A&M–SA students and which deals powerfully with sexual and racial violence. Teachers and theater practitioners wondered how to find the play and if others like it existed. The Bard in the Borderlands offers a robust response to such queries.
Many people made this anthology possible, most importantly the playwrights whose brilliant work is collected here. We are grateful to them for trusting us with their plays and for sharing archival materials with us. We would also like to thank artist Celeste De Luna, who created a linocut print titled Healing Borderland Hand for our cover. Using the Catholic symbol of La Mano Poderosa, she has placed images drawn from the plays above each finger, decentering Shakespeare but alluding to Hamlet’s famous image of a hand holding a skull, an image that also resonates with the iconography of Día de los Muertos, a ritual featured in many of the plays in The Bard in the Borderlands. De Luna’s Mano Poderosa is also situated in the landscape of the Borderlands, as it is surrounded by nopales and nochebuenas and has a river running through its palm. As she notes, this aspect of the image evokes the notion of “blood on the hands” that is so prominent in Shakespeare’s Macbeth but transforms histories of harm “into a healing river that unites people, animals, land.” The barbed wire between the fingers, moreover, symbolizes the disruption of artificial and often harmful boundaries in the region.
The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) has played a crucial role in the development of this project. When an in-person public event that Kathryn planned for March 2020 had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ACMRS offered to host it as a virtual event the following year. The resulting roundtable, “The Bard in the Borderlands: Race, Language, and Coloniality,” in which Kathryn, Katherine, and Adrianna were joined by Ruben Espinosa and Jesus Montaño for a vibrant discussion, demonstrated that interest in Borderlands Shakespeare is wide ranging and far reaching. We are deeply indebted to Geoffrey Way, Manager of Publishing Futures at ACMRS Press, who championed this project and guided us through every step of the publishing process. We thank the rest of the editorial and marketing team at ACMRS Press, especially Roy Rukkila, Todd Halvorsen, Leah Newsom, and Andrea Zamora Chavez, for helping us to realize our vision for an anthology that would make Borderlands Shakespeare truly accessible. Espinosa’s scholarship on Shakespeare in the Borderlands has in many ways inspired this anthology, and this project has benefited from his incisive feedback and unfailing encouragement. Many thanks as well to Ayanna Thompson for her enthusiastic support of the project and her work to build a press with an open-access publishing model that amplifies projects invested in social justice.
This anthology is deeply rooted in our teaching, and it has been influenced by the many students in our classes who have engaged with these plays. A&M–SA students Yvette Chairez, Marissa Galvin, Kelly Kearns, John Milam, Alex Post, and Christen Rendon produced compelling performances that have shaped our interpretations. This project has also benefited from the contributions of four Trinity University students who participated in the Mellon Initiative’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program: Kaylee Avila, Eva Buergler, Paloma Díaz-Minshew, and Sarah Pita. We thank them for their careful transcriptions, well-researched annotations, and sharp questions.
This work has also been made possible by funding from several institutions, including the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Renaissance Society of America, the Mellon Foundation, the Trinity University Humanities Collective, the Trinity University Mellon Initiative, the Trinity University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Department of Language, Literature, and Arts at Texas A&M University–San Antonio. Liza Posas, Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, and Alejandra Gaeta generously facilitated Kathryn’s visit to the Autry Museum of the American West to study archival materials related to James Lujan’s Kino and Teresa.
We would also like to thank a long list of colleagues who have supported this project in various ways throughout its development: Norma Elia Cantú, Rubén Dupertuis, Heather Eichling, Debra Feakes, Elena Foulis, James Finley, Italia Garduño, Catherine Kenyon, Justin Korver, Luis Martinez, Cynthia Teniente Matson, Jesus Montaño, Tim O’Sullivan, Elizabeth Poff, Armando Saliba, Martha Saywell, Claudia Stokes, Betsy Tontiplaphol, Laura Turchi, Lauren Turek, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, and Patricia Zibluk. We extend our deep gratitude to the many friends and family members who have supported us during the multiple phases of this project, and to the pets and kids who made appearances during our many collaborative Zoom sessions.
Pieces of our introductions are drawn from previously published material including: Katherine Gillen and Adrianna M. Santos’s “Borderlands Shakespeare: The Decolonial Visions of James Lujan’s Kino and Teresa and Seres Jaime Magaña’s The Tragic Corrido of Romeo and Lupe,” Shakespeare Bulletin 38, no. 4 (2021): 549–71; their essay “Seres Jaime Magaña’s The Tragic Corrido of Romeo and Lupe and the Power of Borderlands Community Theater,” in Shakespeare and Latinidad, ed. Trevor Boffone and Carla Della Gatta (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021), 57–74; and Katherine Gillen’s “Shakespearean Appropriation and Queer Latinx Empowerment in Josh Inocéncio’s Ofélio,” in The Routledge Handbook of Shakespeare and Global Appropriation, ed. Christy Desmet, Sujata Iyengar, and Miriam Jacobson (London: Routledge, 2019), 90–101. We thank Shakespeare Bulletin, Edinburgh University Press, and Routledge for the permission to use these essays here.