The Importance of the Festival

The Siglo de Oro Drama Festival as the Centerpiece of the Mission of the Chamizal National Memorial

In the spring of 2015, the Siglo de Oro Drama Festival at the Chamizal National Memorial  celebrated its 40th anniversary. The following year, the world commemorated the 400th anniversary of the death of two of the world’s most famous literary geniuses, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, who both died on April 23, 1616. One would be hard pressed to find anyone in the United States who would be so brazen as to say, “Shakespeare isn’t important here because he belongs to Britain and not to America.” This is because there is consensus that Shakespeare is important to the entire world, but especially to the English-speaking world. In the same way, the authors, poets, and dramatists of the Siglo de Oro (Spain’s Golden Age) belong to the world, and in particular to the Spanish-speaking world. No one questions the influence that Golden Age geniuses like Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Calderón de la Barca have had on the entirety of literature written in Spanish from Peru to Mexico to the Caribbean. Cervantes in particular is revered throughout Mexico, and this is made evident by annual Cervantes events and festivals throughout the country, perhaps the most famous being the International Cervantine Festival in Guanajuato.

By holding the Siglo de Oro Drama Festival at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, we are actively promoting the centerpiece of the Chamizal’s mission, the promotion of peaceful resolution of conflict through arts and culture, by honoring the place of the Siglo de Oro in world literature and drama. The outreach and educational components of the Siglo de Oro are also evident in that the Drama Festival helps the English-speaking world understand the importance of this period and its literary production to our brothers and sisters in Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, and in all of the Spanish-speaking regions of the world.