Out of the Wings

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Progne y Filomena (1608-1612), Guillén de Castro


This is a three-act mythological comedia.


The first time we see Progne, she has cut herself by falling asleep on a mirror, so the blood flows from the first act and does not stop throughout the play. There are interesting staging opportunities with the omens, dreams and fortune-telling scenes, as the dialogue is evocative and often nightmarish. A forged letter is needed for the final scene of Act 1.  Another letter is needed at the start of Act 2, and this letter’s seal will be broken and re-made. The scenes most challenging to stage will probably be those set in the wilderness, where Tereo plants his white flag in a separate location from that of Teosindo, and Filomena must be able to see both flags and wonder which one she should go towards to meet her lover. Tereo attempts to rape Filomena, and cuts her tongue (note he does not cut it out as in the myth) offstage, but she comes back with bloody hands and face. Props needed include the peasant’s cloth which informs Progne of her husband’s attack on Filomena. Progne beheads her son Itis offstage, and serves Tereo a meal of his son’s body onstage. Much of the play takes place outside in the wilderness, in a landscape of caves and wild animals, and Filomena and her son Driante dress in animal skins when they move out there. The men carry weapons. In the play it is agreed that Progne is the more beautiful of the two sisters, but Filomena has an attractive quality that captivates both Tereo and Teosindo.

Cast number
Minimum Maximum
6 males 22 males
3 females 5 females
9 (total) 27 (total)
  • PANDIÓN, King of Athens, father of Progne and Filomena
  • PROGNE (Procne)
  • FILOMENA (Philomela), Progne’s sister
  • TEREO (Tereus), King of Thrace
  • TEOSINDO, Tereo’s brother
  • RICARDO, Manservant to Tereo
  • LISARDO, Gardener
  • ITIS (Itys), Son of Progne and Tereo, four years old
  • DRIANTE, Son of Filomena and Teosindo, 17 years old
  • YOUNG ARMINDA, Daughter of Progne and Tereo, at 11 months old
  • ARMINDA, Daughter of Progne and Tereo, at 17 years old
  • TUTOR to Itis and young Arminda

Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 4 October 2010.

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