San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Don Quixote: Madman Or a Beautiful Mind?

Why go see a play about a 400-year-old story of a man who battles giant windmills? Well, you might as well ask yourself why it is we live, why we breathe, how, amongst constant hardship and disappointment, we find such a capacity for human relationships and love. I can think of no other man who is more relevant, today.

Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha, is mad, and in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition becomes a chivalrous knight who fights battles with imaginary foes and believes in surprising things such as romance, love and the Impossible Dream.

His family determines to “cure” him of his “insanity” by forcing him to look into the mirror of reality and see what he truly is – a madman. When everything is laid bare, stripped down, is he slightly off his rocker? A few cards short of a deck? A beer short of a six-pack? Not the sharpest knife in the drawer? A taco short of a fiesta platter? Needs a few screws tightened? The porch light ain’t on?

Or is this a beautiful man confronting a society that’s lost its soul? A man whose mind is out of control in a controlled society, or a man who has a beautiful mind in an out-of-control, controlled society? Through this imagination he is able to create something more real, honest and, yes, more truthful then the dreariness all around him. What is so terrible and crazy about that? Don Quixote has apparently fallen into the abyss – committing the sin of acting upon basic human ideals in a radical way.

How ironic that the things we strive for, such as love and true uncorrupted nobility and courage, are frowned upon once they are fully embodied in a person. Don Quixote feels these things and acts on them because be believes it is the truest way to be. The rest of the “sane” world sees his declarations of love and human compassion as an unrealistic, naive freak show. How ironic that we have gotten to the point where we are so uncomfortable around the direct and passionate emotions of a “crazy” person only because we have learned to so often tone down our own emotions and human instincts.

Don Quixote was only following his own path to the goal he wanted to achieve – love. And in the process he exposed how ridiculously false all the “sane” people are.

One of the most powerful relationships in Don Quixote’s story is that between himself and a kitchen maid and prostitute, Dulcinea. Don Quixote sees this woman as a beautiful princess and, through the mind, he is able to confirm beauty in the midst of ugliness. He is able to bring a smile to her dirty face and a dream to her eyes, and when everything goes wrong and she curses him for showing her the sky, he keeps on believing. She would rather not know of the dream of which he speaks, but through everything he remains convinced that it is the only way to be, even if you are torn apart again and again and taught not to feel and dream.

So, want to take a deep breath of true life again for a couple of hours? Go see the upcoming play, “Don Quijote,” a production by Terruño Espressivo and TNT TheatreBritain, opening June 16 at the National Theater in San José. There will be 40 shows during June, August, September and October as part of a national tour that will visit the most important regions of Costa Rica.

The tour is supported by Asobitico, ADG Europe and Proartes. The play is in Spanish, and all the actors are from Costa Rica. For more information, call 2277-1750 or


Canadian Juliet Neun-Hornick, 17, lives in Alajuela, northwest of San José, and is a 12thgrade International Baccalaureate student at the European School in San Pablo de Heredia.

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