DALE WASSERMAN, the man that wrote the book, screen play and movie ‘Man of La Mancha’ once had a home right here in Mojacar.
Our award winning dramatist fell in love with Spain on a trip here back in the 50s. He had never read Cervantes’ book about the confused mad idealistic knight from La Mancha.
Cervantes, another bard, (reputedly, using the old calendar system, was born and died on the same day as Shakespeare) wrote some 40 plays himself and was an undistinguished actor.
His career is more known for his writings than his plays but he did scribble the unforgettable masterpiece Don Quixote while in a prison cell in Seville.
There is a tiny plaque there commemorating the event on the street known as Sierpes.
‘Our’ Dale Wasserman came from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, a place I’ve been to many times to visit my dear Uncle Tom and his cabin.
Wasserman lived the true Jack Kerouac lifestyle, rode the rails and bounced from one adventure to the next—which naturally gave him more than a few stories to tell, ended up in California and began writing.
Some scripts lead to others and more promotions and a trip to Spain.
While here, donkey years back, he got comfortable and read Don Quixote for the first time and believed he could make a play from it.
His efforts were originally called, I, Don Quixote. People came, saw it and it evolved into a TV production for the Du Pont show of the month and then later was “tweaked ” into a musical.
The now unforgettable stunning success of stage and song, Man of La Mancha, which first appeared in 1965 on Broadway and ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards including Best Musical.
Lots of changes happened along the way, for instance, the original song lyrics were by poet WH Auden but discarded for those of Joe Darion.
It became a blockbuster movie hit with none other than Peter O´Toole starring alongside Sophia Loren.
The theatre show has been revived five times in America and in fact is still touring the world “somewhere”.
The tunes are catchy as are the lyrics constantly wrapping the viewer in a cloak of illusion battling the icy winds of reality. Wasserman´s catch phrase “the impossible dream” running throughout the production keeps you wondering who is mad and what in fact—is sane?
Wasserman suggests in one of his interviews that the play is meant as “something of a spiritual experience” facing off the constant illusions of Quixote with the fierce pragmatism of his companion Sancho. As Wasserman stated in an interview “Illusion makes the hardships of life possible to survive.
Life, for most people, is somewhere between a burden and a positively awful experience, with gleams here and there of sunshine.
But illusion—being pretty much a function of imagination—makes possible the belief in other possibilities in life, in better worlds, in improvements which may or may not happen; but so long as the belief in them persists, life is given added value thereby”.
During the story one of the lines quoted by Alonso is: “You are not this splendid thing that you say you are and I am not this splendid thing you think I am.” And Don Quixote replies back: “I know very well who I am and who I may be if I choose.” Wasserman explains this by stating “Idealism…the opportunity to find some grace in living when so little appears in reality”.
The entire musical should be required viewing for those that really want to live here!
Mr Wasserman was a special man, quiet, unassuming and certainly not of the noisy thespian style Hollywood is so known.
He left a copy of his book and inscribed it: to Paul Polansky, who knows Spain better than I ever will”.
There you have it, another short story concerning the mystical city.
And now you too can whistle Mojacar´s thoughtful song: “To Dream the Impossible Dream”. Type in ‘Man of La Mancha – Dulcinea (1972)’ on YouTube to get a viewing and a listen to the music.