Stage adaptations of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece, abound since shortly after its publication in 1605. In the twenty-first century, Don Quixote takes the stage throughout the Americas not only as a literary classic but also as an icon of neighborhood-level activism. Combining the two main traditional readings of the novel, the romantic and the satirical, a third performative interpretation of Don Quixote has emerged across the American continent out of community- based initiatives that adapt the classic for underprivileged communities with a message of social betterment and hope. This article focuses on two such initiatives, Touchstone Theater’s Don Quixote of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, PA) and Stephen Haff’s Kid Quixote project in Brooklyn, New York. I will examine how Cervantes’ hero acts in these two activist projects as a conscious performer in pursuit of personal and collective transformation within the specific socio-economic, political, and cultural parameters of the barrio.

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