The Public Theater presents the New York premiere of The Controversy of Valladolid, an exciting new masterwork by French playwright and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière that brings to life the stunning real-life debates of the Catholic Church in the 16th century, as it tried to determine whether or not natives an ocean away were indeed human. The production features an English translation by Richard Nelson and is directed by David Jones.
The Vatican debate of 1550 between the best minds of that era, over the legal and moral status of the indigenous population of the Americas, would ironically mark the first formal recognition of human rights at the same time that it justified the slave trade of Africans in the Americas. In a dramatic recreation of this shocking proceeding, The Controversy of Valladolid illuminates one of the greatest moments in the history of imperialism, when religion was inextricably intertwined with politics. The play jolts the audience into understanding that slavery was a choice - one that might have been decided very differently. The Controversy of Valladolid also reminds us that the legacy of Valladolid continues to resonate in today's world where so many peoples and races continue to be marginalized and excluded in the name of religion.