It is the late sixteenth century. Failed author-soldier-actor and tax collector Miguel de Cervantes has been thrown into a dungeon by the Spanish Inquisition, along with his manservant. They have been charged with foreclosing on a monastery. The two have brought all their possessions with them into the dungeon. There, they are attacked by their fellow prisoners, who instantly set up a mock trial. If Cervantes is found guilty, he will have to hand over all his possessions. Cervantes agrees to do so, except for a precious manuscript which the prisoners are all too eager to burn. He asks to be allowed to offer a defense, and the defense will be a play, acted out by him and all the prisoners. A big, burly, but good-humored criminal called "The Governor" agrees.