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Spain’s hidden treasure

Spanish golden age drama is more than a match for Shakespeare and co.

By James Woodall   October 2012

Don Juan, Tirso de Molina’s most abiding creation

When the National Theatre stages a play by a 17th-century Spanish friar this month, it might seem as if a jewel of exquisite rarity were going on display. To an English-speaking audience, the 16th and 17th centuries are the era of Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson and co—the undisputed master dramatists of their age. Yet for power and sheer productivity, the Spanish Golden Age—the Siglo de Oro, 1580-1680—is more than a match. Extant plays in Castilian outnumber, by many hundreds, all the work of the…

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