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Bringing a 400-Year-Old Play to Boise

By: Brady W Moore   Published 3:49 pm / June 22, 2017

Edward “Mac” Test, an associate professor in the English Department, is packing his bags and headed east to spend his summer digging through archives in Madrid, Spain.

Photo of Professor Test in the Basque block.

Edward “Mac” Test in downtown Boise’s Basque block.

Test is translating a nearly 400-year-old play, “Comedia Famosa De La Monja Alférez,” into English for the very first time. The play is based on the true story of a Basque woman named Catalina de Erauso, who escaped a nunnery at 18, cut off her hair, dressed as a man, and jumped aboard a ship bound for the new world. She rose to the rank of “alférez” (lieutenant), while living “the fantastic life of a conquistador, gambler and swashbuckler.”

Test’s project already has garnered international attention and ultimately will lead to performances of the play for the first time in America. The Boise State Department of Theatre Arts, UCLA and McMaster University in Toronto all have expressed interest in producing the performance.

While in Spain, Test said his days will consist of waking up early to dive into books, manuscripts and letters at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, or National Library of Spain and at the Museo Nacional del Prado, or Prado Museum.

“I’ll sit in there for hours and just read, take notes and type,” said Test. “You can spend a month on a research fellowship and by the time you get to the end you have so many books you still want to see but you don’t have enough time so near the end you’re just combing through as fast as you can.”

Test said he’s excited to bring a story with contemporary ties and a Basque connection to Boise.

“There’s a very small number of scholars who know about it. But is the play known around the world? No. Especially to English speakers, that’s why I want to bring it here,” said Test.