MapFund

About the Grant

$20,000 to support The Converso Project (MAP 2005), the second in a projected cycle of plays exploring New Mexican history and its legacy of complex and conflicting identity in a state that lives equally in the past and the present.

About the Project

The Converso Project is the second in a cycle of plays exploring the history & cultures of New Mexico and their impact on contemporary political life. The conversos of New Mexico defy easy cultural definition - their existence largely a secret to mainstream historical inquiry. Likewise, their heritage has not been fully explored in a serious theatrical context. The Converso Project will explore this rich and complex heritage and its precarious existence in present-day New Mexico.

The origins of the conversos go back to events in 15th century Spain: the colonization of the Americas and the Inquisition which forced Spain's Jews to choose between Catholicism and death. Many Jews sought escape through exile where some converted and others lived a dual life - as public Catholics and secret Jews. Large numbers of these "hidden Jews" sought a short-lived refuge in the America. By the 1580s, the Inquisition reached America's shores, once again forcing the conversos into secrecy. In New Mexico, for over 400 years, conversos still struggle with fear of exposure and confusion over their identities. The Converso Project will explore the historical origins and the complex identity issues faced by conversos while speaking to the larger question of fluidity in racial and ethnic identity in American culture. The proposed work will be grounded in historical research, illuminated by personal narratives elicited through interviews conducted by the lead artists and actors, fictionalized into a cohesive drama and brought to life by the poetic use of sound, light and space.
Working Classroom's Converso Project
Working Classroom's Converso Project

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