Man of La Mancha Lesson Plans: Activities Related to the Film and Stage Musical

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Man of La Mancha, with script by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics by Joe Darion, premiered at the Washington Square Theatre in Greenwich Village in November 1965 and became a smash hit—winning the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical in 1966, and becoming the third longest-running musical of the 1960s.

Wasserman had become fascinated by the life of Miguel de Cervantes, which read like a “catalogue of catastrophe,” and wondered how a man who had suffered so much misfortune could transcend his circumstances and produce possibly the greatest work in all of Spanish literature, Don Quixote. Wasserman initially wrote a well-received 90-minute television play called I, Don Quixote, but wanted a work that spent as much time on Cervantes the author as on Don Quixote the character.  The musical Man of La Mancha does that.  It depicts Cervantes at a low point in his fortunes—during one of his many imprisonments (here depicted as the Inquisition)— before he will emerge to publish the Quixote manuscript he has in hand.  But the other prisoners place him on trial in order to claim his possessions.  Thus, to justify himself and save his precious manuscript, he and his companion undertake an unusual defense—they act out the story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, with help from the other inmates.

The prison setting of this musical prevents it from relying on elaborate sets and costumes, or extensive choreography, to wow the audience with spectacle.  Instead, it becomes a vehicle for powerful actor-singers to move the audience with the emotional depth of the characters and story combined with an inspired and memorable score.

  1. English
  2. Math of La Mancha (forthcoming)
  3. Social Studies
  4. Science
  5. Art
  6. Music
  7. Catholic Connection


ENGLISH (Literature & Writing)

1.1. Cervantes/Quixote: “Lunatic,” or “Man of Illusion”?  The theme of Fantasy vs. Reality has appeared before, when we considered the value of Fantasy literature as reading metter for children– see the Lesson Plans (English) for Narnia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/ Willy Wonka.   But Man of La Mancha demands that we consider the value of Fantasy– or Illusion– in an individual adult human life.  Cervantes/Don Quixote seems to cultivate actively and protect illusion in his life, which sets him apart from other characters in the play.  Some of them respond to him in a generally open or positive way (Sancho, the padre, the Innkeeper, and eventually Aldonza), while others respond negatively (Dr. Carrasco, the Innkeeper’s Wife, muleteers).

If Don Quixote does not fit into the society around him, does that mean there is something wrong with him? Or does it mean that there is something wrong with the society?

The advocates of Reality might argue that they acknowledge “what is,” things as they really are– that which is accurate & honest, and perhaps even necessary for navigating through the world.  Those who can’t or won’t see Reality must be sick, mad, and in need of help. Or they are dishonest, irresponsible, and dangerous; they get people hurt, the way Quixote gets Pancho & himself beaten and robbed, and Aldonza beaten and raped.  Or they are naive/ignorant of the realities of life, perhaps lacking in life experience.  But Cervantes denies this charge, citing his experience of war, suffering, loss, and affirms that he embraces Illusion as a deliberate choice.

The advocates of Illusion, or Fantasy, might argue that Reality, if you look at it, is flawed & imperfect– at best boring or uninspiring, at worst unkind and unjust.  People must be able to envision something different and better– something which doesn’t exist– in order to work for change and make it exist, make the world better.  Illusion keeps people from being bound, and thus limited, by the circumstances in which they are born, and/or in which they happen to live. Illusion gives hope, and helps people be better, braver, and more virtuous.  Moreover, stripping a man of all illusion, in the play, seems a rough process, and results in Don Quixote’s death– perhaps because imagination is such an integral part of being human that man can’t live without it, or perhaps because there’s no longer any point in living once all dreams & aspirations are gone.

Where do you stand?

1.2. Learn more about the life of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), the author, and read all or part of his literary classic, Don Quixote (El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha), originally published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615.  (Even an abridged graphic version exists, Classics Illustrated: Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote [Acclaim Bools, 1997], with informative essay/notes by Gregory Feeley.)

What did this work contribute to literature & culture (ex. the comic sidekick; the word/ concept of being “quixotic” and “tilting at windmills”)?  What themes or issues are central to this work—and do you see these included in the musical Man of La Mancha?

1.3. Read some Medieval literature—especially stories of knights and their quests, heroes and their causes.  Learn more about Spain’s national hero, “El Cid”/ Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, perhaps from (the anonymous) The Poem (Cantar) of the Cid (1140?).  Learn more about the Spanish classics The Great Overseas Conquest (La Gran Conquista de Ultramar, ca. 1300), The Knight Cifar (La Caballero Cifar, also ca. 1300), Don Juan Manuel’s Count Lucanor (1335),  and especially Rodriguez de Montalvo’s  Amadis of Gaul (1508, rewritten from previous tales & legends of this peerless knight with an exalted lady-love), which Cervantes made a spur to Alonso Quijana becoming Don Quixote.  See also the humor in Juan Ruiz’s Book of Good Love (1330s) as a possible influence.  Try to find the first original short story in Spanish, The Abencerraje, or The Story of Abindarraez and Jarifa, published in the Inventario (1565), (& less well in Montemayor’s Diana, 1559)  in which the Spanish hero Rodrigo de Narvaez embodies the best chivalric qualities, as does his Moorish counterpart from the noble Abencerraje family of Granada.

Then consider reading about England’s King Arthur & his fellow knights (with versions by Malory, Sidney Lanier, T.H. White, Mary Stewart, or Geraldine McCaughrean), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (or the easier Geraldine McCaughrean version), and about Robin Hood (Howard Pyle version, or Roger Lancelyn Green).  Learn more about France’s Charlemagne, and especially the Song of Roland, one of his knights.

What do these national heroes tell us about the qualities each nation admires, celebrates, …hopes to imitate?

Who would be America’s national heroes? (The Pilgrims?  George Washington? Paul Revere?  Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Lone Ranger & Tonto?  A president, general, astronaut, social reformer, or movie star?)

1.4. Save a Word.  Now that the days of knightly quests are over, we may not all be able to save a damsel in distress—but we can all vow to save a word from extinction.
Pick a word—perhaps a Medieval word– that has gone out of general usage, and adopt it; make it your personal mission to use that word, and help the people around you to know and use it too.  Find plenty of choices in Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English and The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten, as well as the glossary of Georgette Heyer’s historical novel Simon the Cold-Heart.  Old dictionaries– such as John Russell Bartlett’s 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms, reprinted in 2003 with a foreword by Richard Lederer– may also be a good source of words to adopt.

Why not say “anywhen,” since we say “anyhow” and “anywhere”?  (“Just stop by anywhen.”)  Why not call an icicle an “aquabob”?  When you’re surprised, tell people you’re “blutterbunged” or “gloppened.”  (I have adopted “ram-feezled” to describe being majorly exhausted or fatigued.  I also like “furly,” which is a wonder, an amazing thing/sight/occurrence.)

And a few more from Kacirk:  To “glog” is to work at a dirty job.  To “gowl” is to weep more in anger than sorrow, sulkily and vindictively rather than in penitence.  To “glunch” is to frown.  To “hurple” means to shrug or stick up the back as an animal does in bad weather, or to shrug up the neck and creep along the street as if under-dressed for the cold or wet.

1.5. Etymology is the study of word origins (linguistic roots, where & when new words enter a language/culture).  Be a word detective.  What words have entered the English language from Spain’s language & culture– either directly, or by way of Mexico?

Research some of the following words which, according to Duncan Townson’s Muslim Spain, come from Arabic: admiral; alcohol; alcove; algebra; apricot; arsenal; carafe; cipher; coffee; cotton; damask; damson; jar; lemon; magazine; mattress; monsoon; muslin; orange; sherbet; sofa; sugar; syrup; tabby; tariff.

Richard Fletcher, author of Moorish Spain, says over a thousand words entered Castilian Spanish from Arabic, many beginning with “al-” ; he cites “cotton” or “algodon” as one such word that has come through into English.

Read about other words just for fun, in Jeffrey Kacirk’s The Word Museum (mentioned above) or Janet Whitcut’s The Penguin Book of Exotic Words.

1.6. Unamuno: “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”  Write a response to this quotation, which Dale Wasserman cites as his “guiding precept.”  Do you agree or disagree with the quotation? Do you find it more positive & inspirational …or unrealistic, possibly dangerous?  How so?

1.7. “Facts are the enemies of truth,” says Cervantes/ Quixote in the play.  What do you think he means?  Do you agree or disagree?

1.8. Wasserman considers Cervantes to be Spain’s “Shakespeare.”  How so?  Though Cervantes loved the theatre and apparently wrote many plays, few have survived.

Learn more about famous playwrights of the Spanish theatre:  Play of the Wise Men (author unknown); Lope de Rueda; Lope de Vega; Juan Ruiz de Alarcon; Pedro Calderon de la Barca; Tirso de Molina; Echegaray; Benavente; Serafin & Joaquin Quintero; Martinez Sierra; Antonio Buero Vallejo; and the great talent killed during the Spanish Civil War, Frederico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936).

1.9. A. Discuss “the Spanish Inquisition” as a literary construct.  The image most people have in their mind —about a terrifyingly unjust tribunal resulting in some kind of perpetual bloodbath– is an image shaped more by literary depictions in English than by historical realities in Spain.

[See Social Studies 3.3 & 3.8 to research the Spanish Inquisition as a historical topic.  For example: Spain did not have the first, the only, or even the most active ‘inquisition’ in Europe.  Though 15th-century justice in any civil court may not meet 21st-century expectations, 15th-century Spaniards often perceived the inquisition courts as being more efficient and more fair than other civil courts of the time; some even tried to get their cases switched over to inquisition courts.]

Given the competition between England and Spain for political/ economic/ cultural influence,  English writers and illustrators certainly had patriotic/nationalistic motives encouraging them to depict Spain and its institutions negatively—a tradition which America inherited along with the English language and literature.  But the Inquisition could also be used as a literary device—to provide plot complications, or delay/ incapacitate a character, or to contribute to an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, menace, or threat of death.  Consider reading a couple of works from the emerging horror genre which utilize an inquisition, such as the Gothic novel The Italian by Ann Radclyffe, or Edgar Allen Poe’s famous story “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

Why, or how, is the Inquisition used in Man of La Mancha?  (To make the stakes in the trial seem high, by creating a fear of immanent death?  To encourage/ allow for an investigation of beliefs?  Or because Wasserman seems to have had a false impression of the Inquisition?)

1.9.B. Watching the musical, did you/ do you doubt that Cervantes lived after leaving the cell and appearing before the Inquisition?  Music professor Bill Messenger, in his Great Courses “Great American Music: Broadway Musicals,” interpreted the show as “a dark, depressing story” about “the totalitarian oppression of individuals.” Messenger says the Enchanter/truth-teller strips Quixote of his pretensions, revealing that he is “a bloated, old nobody”—even though he thinks those same pretensions would help Cervantes survive the stress of the Inquisition.  That remark suggests that Cervantes might NOT survive now, either, as if Quixote’s death foreshadows Cervantes’ death.

On the other hand, the other prisoners suggest that Cervantes will survive; they say if he tells his story again upstairs, just the same way, he’ll succeed.  And obviously, Cervantes did survive in real life; the Quixote manuscript was not published posthumously—even had a second part published 10-years later.  Moreover, Dale Wasserman himself says he wrote against the prevailing “theatre of alienation, of moral anarchy and despair,” offering a play “hopelessly naïve in its espousal of illusion as man’s strongest spiritual need, the most important function of his imagination.” (ix) Has Bill Messenger bought into the literary image of the bloody Inquisition too completely and unquestioningly?

1.10. Consider “Romantic Spain.”  In the 19th-century, Washington Irving, best known for his American stories “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” creates a new stereotype for Spain by publishing  Tales of the Alhambra.  It envisions the period of Muslim occupation, centered on al-Andulas (or Andalusia to Europeans) as a golden age, lending a certain exotic and orientalized mystique even to quaint 1800s Spain.  (Irving shares credit for this image with an English travel writer name Ford.  Although still a generalization, the image of Spain as picturesque, pre-industrial, and non-materialistic was certainly more favorable than the “Black Legend” of Spain as ignorant, fanatical, cruel, bloodthirsty, power-hungry, and supremely destructive, which had been in circulation continuously from the 15th-century to date.)  Read these tales, and then perhaps…

…read some Ernest Hemingway, whose 20th-century life & writings were also influenced by his attraction to Spain.

1.11. Locate and read other “Prison Lit”—works written during, or about, imprisonment.  Can you see any common elements or themes in these works?  (Examples written in prison:  MLK Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail;” Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy; St. Paul’s Letters to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Cervantes’ Don Quixote; Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; The Travels of Marco Polo; similarly, Sir Walter Raleigh started writing The History of the World; over a dozen stories by O. Henry; Richard Lovelace’s poem “To Althea, from Prison;” and unfortunately, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’  Literature of the Holocaust/Shoah would also include internment, imprisonment.  Examples that dramatize imprisonment include plays like Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Sutton Vane’s Outward Bound, Maxwell Anderson’s Mary of Scotland, or perhaps Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape and– if you count the trap of behaviors/routines & addictions– Long Day’s Journey into Night.  Main characters are also jailed for part of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter; Hugo’s Les Miserables; Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers; Dickens’ Little Dorrit, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities. )

1.12. Locate and read other literature involving Windmills. (ex. “The Miller’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss; Alphonse Daudet, Letters from my Windmill; Hilda van Stockum, The Winged Watchman; Dodie Smith (1895-1990), Bonnet over the Windmill (1932)). Listen to the song “Windmills of my Mind (Theme from The Thomas Crown Affair)” by Noel Harrison (the son of Rex Harrison), who himself played the role of Don Quixote. The (Ibstone) windmill was added for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film—not present in Ian Fleming’s book.

1.13. Don Quixote‘s Episodic structure.  Write another “episode”—another encounter or adventure—for Don Quixote and Sancho to experience.

1.14. Don Quixote dreams an Impossible Dream. Locate & read speeches that share a Dream—like MLK Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, or JFK’s “We choose to go to the Moon…”—but are also a call to action. Think of a wrong you’d like to help right—a dream you’d like to make a reality—and write a SPEECH to inspire your peers to undertake your chosen task with you.

1.15. Meta-theatre: play within a play. Other examples: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; or Luigi Pirandello, playwright of Enrico IV and Six Characters in search of an Author.  Framing narratives, around the story, are also used in story collections like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, and in novels like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

1.16. Financial difficulties of authorship: How is this shown in the life of Cervantes and at least 2 others (Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne; Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters; etc.)?

1.17.  Terri L. Brown, who directed Man of La Mancha for Central Washington University in 2001, conceives of “Cervantes as a Christ-like figure, teaching his truths through the use of parables”– such as the various adventures of Don Quixote– to the as-yet-unbelieving, but potential “disciples” in the prison.  He further envisions Sancho as Peter, Aldonza as Mary Magdalene, and Dr. Carrasco as a Judas/Satan figure.

What evidence do you find in the text, or in the production you saw, to support these ideas?  Do you agree or disagree with Brown’s concept?



No problems yet. Just wanted to be able to write “Math of La Mancha.”


SOCIAL STUDIES (Geography, History, Politics)

Possible Topics for Research:

3.1. In the book, Sancho Panzo follows Don Quixote hoping to become the ruler of his own island.  Imagine an island that you would like to rule; make a map of your isle, marking physical features as well as important cities, towns, landmarks.

3.2. Create a map of Spain. On mainland Spain (the Iberian peninsula), note the mountains across the northern border, which block rainfall from the Atlantic and help make the central plains (meseta) difficult or barren, and the desirable fertile strip along the South (the Levant).  Label the capitol city Madrid, and add Santiago de Compostela, Pamplona, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, and Salamanca.  What are Spain’s two most important rivers?

Then locate the rest of Spain’s territory:  the five Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean; the seven major Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa; and five “places of sovereignty” on and off the Moroccan coast– Ceuta, Melilla, Las Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera.

What four countries border Spain?  Can you name Spain’s 17 “comunidades autonomas” (autonomous communities)– similar to U.S. states or Canadian provinces? Remember: The 5 “places of sovereignty” are not among them!

3.3. Research Spain’s history & culture.  What do historians mean by “the Black Legend”? — Try to use sources which do not buy into and/or perpetuate it!

In this regard, Stanley G. Payne’s Spain: A Unique History (U of Wisconsin Press 2008) is highly recommended for older readers;  parents/teachers could also read it before their elementary kids use a library standard like Enchantment of the World: Spain (by Lura Rogers), and thus be prepared to correct any misleading sections.

Other Suggestions:  Like Payne, Richard Fletcher avoids stereotypes and the myth of al-Andalus/Andalusia (as a golden age of tolerance), in Moorish Spain.  And both Payne and Fletcher refer to Joseph O’ Callaghan’s History of Medieval Spain.  For older readers, Geoffrey Parker analyzes The Grand Strategy of Philip II— in more detail than most of us will ever need– and gives a thoughtful, though not uncritical, portrait of a man much maligned by (English-speaking) historians.  The fact that Parker has been honored by both England and Spain for his historical work seems to speak well of his balance.  In addition to his books on Philip of Spain and Spain 1469-1714, Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition gives a very detailed, unbiased account of the court, the multicultural society in which it operated, and its profound effects on Jewish converts to Catholicism and on the (still) Jewish community.  For an easy read, Patrick Madrid’s Pope Fiction: Answers to 30 Myths & Misconceptions About the Papacy gives a brief Catholic account of what the Inquisition was and wasn’t, as one of the 30 topics.

Does America’s 9/11 experience, and subsequent concerns about national security, shift  or change they way we now understand or view Spanish popular feelings (positive & negative) and especially legal & political behavior toward Muslims, Jews, and Conversos  during the period of Reconquest  (1000-1492), and just after?  [See also 3.8. below, especially Muslim invasion & occupation of Spain.]

3.4. Learn more about Medieval History & Culture. Chivalry. Castles. Armor & weaponry.

3.5. Compare the use of Windmills in 2-3 cultures: ex. The Spanish. The Dutch (Netherlands). The Amish in America.

3.6. History of prisons (incl. barges, deportation/colonies, dungeons, oubliettes, Victorian panopticon). Philosophies of punishment, or rehabilitation (and how Work figures into either). Famous prisons, like the Bastille, Andersonville, the Black Hole of Calcutta, or Alcatraz.

3.7. History of the Book, incl. paper as well as book-making. (ex. Eyewitness: Book; Marguerite Makes a Book)

3.8. Consider Spain as a case study for the toughest socio-political situations:

  • Ex. Recurring Invasions/ Occupation: Who assimilates & who doesn’t? How long must you inhabit a region to “belong” there? Consider the peoples who have crossed Spain’s history: the native Basques; ‘Iberians;’ Celts; traders from Greece, Carthage, Phoenicia; the Romans (Empire gives the name “Hispania”); the Visigoths; and the Moors (Muslim Arabs & Berbers) who invade in 711 and occupy for centuries (though not totally— the Celto-Iberians & Basques in the northern mountains remain unconquered; and the French under Charles Martel stop the Moors’ invasion from spreading farther into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732.  But even Charlemagne couldn’t prevent the ongoing raids in France, or make headway back into Spain, later in the century). From 976-1000, Ibn abi Amir, called al-Mansur (the victorious), began destructive yearly campaigns against the remaining Spanish Christians, ultimately prompting their resolve to retake their country. The “Reconquest” of Spain takes from 1000 to 1492– the final 30yrs under Ferdinand & Isabella.
  • Ex. Civil War– The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) begins dictator Francisco Franco’s rule until his death in 1975; then comes the restoration of monarchy with King Juan Carlos I.
  • Ex. Separatist Movement—question of Basque (or Euzkera) independence; even a terrorist group called Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
  • Ex. First Contact?– Spain had barely unified & freed itself from Muslim occupation when Columbus stumbled onto “the New World.” Challenges, mistakes, and successes related to exploration/ colonization era? (See again Stanley G. Payne’s Spain: A Unique History, and relevant sections of Patrick Madrid’s Pope Fiction.)

3.9. What is Justice? How can we tell a chivalrous knight, trying to do good, from a vigilant taking the law into his own hands? Is Don Quixote a sort of lone superhero? (Was the questing knight the superhero of his era?)

3.10. Research the Battle of Lepanto, in which Cervantes fought and was wounded (a disabled arm)– and which he may have considered his noblest accomplishment.  When, where, and why did this battle take place?  (In literature, British Victorian G.K. Chesterton wrote a long poem about Lepanto.)


Possible Topics for Research:

4.1. Madness.
4.2. Aging.
4.3. The (“Luna”tic) Moon.
4.4. Mirrors. Light/Optics. Glasswork.
4.5. Windmills. Alternative power. (Consider buying & building one from a kit; see the Windmills for Kids website.)
4.6. Deforestation—an environmental problem of Spain.
4.7. Water as a Resource—again, a problem for Spain, where many rivers are inactive/dry for most of the year.
4.8. Salt water is denser than fresh: Conduct of few Density experiments to explore the concept.

Consider the mystery of The Strait of Gibraltar: For centuries, sailors noticed the water of the Atlantic flowing strongly in through the strait, into the Mediterranean– but never out! Yet the level of the Mediterranean Sea did not become ever higher. Why not? Water does evaporate faster from the warm Mediterranean than from the colder Atlantic, leaving the water of the Mediterranean Sea much saltier. Could that be a clue? (More in Herr and Cunningham, Hands-On Chemistry Activities with Real-Life Applications.)

4.9. Giants: As a medical condition. Height as an indicator of the health & prosperity of a country.
4.10. Horses.

4.11. Don Quixote sometimes sees a different reality than Sancho– giants instead of windmills, a golden helmet instead of a shaving bowl– which leads others to question his sanity, or perhaps his honesty.

Research Synesthesia– a perceptual (brain) condition in which one or more senses are joined. People with synesthesia may see, hear, smell, taste, or feel the world differently, but without any disability or mental illness. Visit the website “Synesthesia for Kids“; or read a scholarly work like Cytowic & Eagleman’s Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Understanding the Brain of Synesthesia.



5.1. Research a famous Spanish artist; then create your own artwork in similar style: El Greco; Velasquez; Goya; Pablo Picasso; Salvador Dali; Joan Miro.

5.2. Learn more about architect Antonio Gaudi and his work.

5.3. Research Muslim art & architecture in Spain– or Islamic designs in art in general, if that is easier.  Practice drawing/painting one of the decorative designs you find.  One interesting fact: Islamic art discourages the depiction of real, living creatures, but a few Moorish wall-paintings include plants, animals, people (though in homes & public spaces, not in any mosque) [source: Duncan Townson, Muslim Spain].

5.4. Consider these luxury-industries once popular in Cordoba: Learn more about lace-making; silkworms/ silk-making; and/or the decoration of jewelry & caskets/ boxes (then, involving ruby, gold, silver, ivory).
Decorate a trinket-box of your own with colorful stones or beads.

5.5. Learn more about Medieval arts and crafts (ex. Jennifer Olmstead’s Art of the Middle Ages), and try your hand at a similar project:

  • a page of illuminated manuscript;
  • draw a tapestry design (on legal paper), or embroider a “tapestry” (handkerchief, or plain cloth);
  • woodworking (or woodburning kit);
  • leathercraft;
  • fresco (Paint quickly on a layer/section of wet plaster of paris in a foil pan.);
  • paint on wood (possibly a triptych or diptych)
  • bas-relief in metal (Michael’s offers metallic foil press kits; we ordered Shure Metallic Foil/Hammered Metal kits from Rainbow Resource. More realistic than folding heavy duty foil & then pressing an image into it with a popsicle stick.)

8.6) Learn more about Heraldry, and the different kinds of information (about rank, family, mottoes/values, types of animals & their posed positions, etc.) that can be displayed. Learn especially if Spanish heraldry differs in any way from the rest of Europe in style or preferences (meaningful colors or animals, etc.). Then create on cardstock, cardboard, or even with wood, a coat of arms for Don Quixote.

Then create an appropriate coat of arms for yourself.

8.7. Mirrors of glass shatter Don Quixote’s illusions. Learn more about glass-blowing, glasswork, and/or a famous glass artist like Dale Chihuly.



6.1. Research Spanish music, including:

  • guitar– as descendant of Greek cithara; Spanish classical guitarist Andres Segovia; Flamenco guitarists Paco de Lucia and Vicente Amigo;
  • bagpipe– introduced by Celts before the Romans came;
  • dance forms like Flamenco, fandango, and bolero.

6.2. Can you find examples of music from Moorish Spain—lute, zither, rebec (primitive violin), various flutes, wind instruments, drums.  What would by considered typical Muslim music today?

Hispanic-related: West Side Story; Morales in A Chorus Line
Musicals with Comic Sidekicks:  Singin’ in the Rain; The Music Man; Brigadoon; Mary Poppins
Musicals with Mental Illness:  Sweeney Todd; Next to Normal; Lady in the Dark; Anyone Can Whistle; Alice in Wonderland; depression in Magic Treehouse: The Musical
Musicals of the Poor, Down-trodden, or Criminal:  Les Miserables; Newsies; Porgy & Bess; Sweeney Todd; Oliver!; Fiddler on the Roof; Chicago; Kiss of the Spiderwoman; Evita; Finian’s Rainbow; Annie
Musicals about Dreaming Impossible Dreams:
Camelot; West Side Story; South Pacific; Seussical; Narnia; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/ Willy Wonka; maybe Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Musicals with imprisonment:
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatChicago;   Les MiserablesOliver!; Newsies Sweeney ToddKiss of the Spiderwoman;  also, the Childcatcher traps the Potts children in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Mrs. Banks goes to visit jailed suffragettes in Mary Poppins


7.1. Play ‘Pay it Forward.’

7.2. Research Spanish Saints (ex. Vincent of Saragossa;  Isadore of Seville, and also his siblings Leander, Fulgentius, and Florentina;  Ildefonsus;  Isadore the Farmer;  Vincent Ferrer;  Flora and Mary;  Roderick; Eulogius; Leocritia;  Raymond of Penyafort; Gerald; Teresa of Avila; John of the Cross; Turibius de Mongrovejo;  Ignatius Loyola;  Francis Xavier;  Bartolome de Las Casas;  Paschal Baylon;  Anthony Mary Claret). Also, Father Junipero Serra (described for the young children in Leo Politi’s The Mission Bell).

7.3. What is a vigil? When might one traditionally occur/ be undertaken?  Take a cue from Don Quixote; Participate in a Vigil, preferably in a Chapel. (Learn more about/ participate in Eucharistic Adoration; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.)

7.4. Inquisitions– Learn more about them, especially The Spanish Inquisition. [See English & Social Studies 3.3 & 3.8, above, for suggestions of fair & accurate sources!  Emmanuel Books sells Joseph O’ Callaghan’s A History of Medieval Spain and James Fitzhenry’s El Cid, God’s Own Champion, so presumably they would be appropriate for Catholic readers; perhaps also William Thomas Walsh’s Characters of the Inquisition, by an American Catholic historian decorated by Spain for his books. ]

7.5. Define & discuss: Ecumenism; and Apologetics. (especially recalling the centuries of religious diversity in Spain– Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic Christian)

7.6. Consider Aldonza and Dulcinea as a starting point for discussing the Dignity of Woman. Read and discuss the papal encyclical on the dignity of women, Mulieris Dignitatem.

7.7. In the play, Cervantes seems keenly aware of the artist’s power to inspire the community around him, even the basest of prisoners. What has the Church said about the role and responsibilities of artists, especially in the modern world?

Pay particular attention to anything said or written on this topic by the late Pope John Paul II (given name Karol Wojtyla), who was himself a poet, playwright, and actor. Read some of Karol Wojtyla’s poems or plays (also written in verse)– the most widely available play being The Jeweler’s Shop (which has also been made into a film, with Burt Lancaster and Olivia Hussey). What adversity did he have to overcome to practice his art? How, and for whom, might his works be inspirational?

See also the Vatican’s Movie List, suggesting films of particular merit; and watch one from the list!   Also, research the makers of the independent film Therese, a project which develops from earlier saints’ lives videos and touring shows.  How do they view the challenges and rewards of Catholics engaging in the arts?  Why is it so important to do?

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