José Luis Chávez González, Spanish Theatre
Spanish theatre, like in Europe, there is bound to religion. The Mass, the central liturgical celebration in the Christian religion is in itself a 'drama', a representation of death and resurrection of Christ. Will the clergy who, in an attempt to explain learning the mysteries of faith to the faithful largely uneducated and illiterate people, create the first theatrical dialogues: the troops, who staged some episodes of the Bible relevant. These representations, which took place in churches, choir or central part of the ship, became longer, resulting in a spectacular form of religious drama which was the medieval drama par excellence. Gradually, elements were added in this profane and funny kind of representations that, for reasons of decorum, eventually leaving the church and began to take place in public places: in the porches and courtyards of churches, squares, streets and cemeteries.
In Spain are very few written records and plays of these centuries. The show's oldest theater Castilian is the Auto de los Reyes Magos from the end of the twelfth century, written in romance and probably of French origin.
Medieval parameters remain the key to the Spanish theater until, in the sixteenth century, begins the path of modernization that would culminate in the creation of a genre: the new comedy of the seventeenth century. The sixteenth century is a time of searching and coexistence of several trends: the religious drama (Gil Vicente), classicism (Juan de la Cueva), the Italian (Juan del Encina, Bartolomé Torres Navarro) and the nationalist tradition (Juan de la Cueva). The most important play of this period is La Celestina, Fernando de Rojas. It really is a human comedy, done more for reading and reflection than for the stage.
The seventeenth century was the golden age of theater in Spain. It is a time when the social and political circumstances determine a unique situation: the public performance becomes the focus of morality and aesthetics. The 'appearances' are fundamental. The world is a big theater and the theater is the art best suited to represent life. Creating the first theaters comedy called pens, which were run by the Guilds, real precedents of modern theatrical entrepreneur. Authors, works and undertakings proliferate. The theater becomes a restricted event to become a competitive product, subject to the laws of supply and demand. Two authors of the time, to illustrate the meaning and evolution of this debate and theater arts, are: Cervantes and Lope de Vega.
Cervantes, the great Spanish novelist, was not deserve success in the theater and this was due probably to his theater had some characteristics that do not meet the tastes of the public. It is, indeed, a theater that wants to be 'Mirror of Life', in which the text is of great importance and where the characters are not simple stereotypes. By contrast, Lope de Vega was right with the Baroque taste of the public intended to go to the theater was fun, a good time rather than attend a 'cultural event'. We especially pleased that the representations were complete entertainment: music, dance and, above all, many scenic effects (appearances and disappearances, changing scenes, falls and flights, etc.).
The works of Lope de Vega imposed the central features of the new comedy: writing verse polymers, breakdown of the units place and time, a mixture of comic and tragic elements, structured in three acts, divided into categories. All these features have a single purpose: to keep the viewer interested in the plot until the end.
The great playwrights of the time, in addition to Lope de Vega (who wrote some 1,500 plays) are, among others, Tirso de Molina, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, Francisco Rojas Zorrilla and Augustine Moreto.
The eighteenth century was marked in Spain, for the first time, with the intervention of the state in the country's orientation theater. Under the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment, was created a movement for reform of the theaters in Madrid, directed by Leandro Fernandez de Moratín. The main task of this movement was a series of other works and to prohibit, under the premise of promoting ideas that protect only the truth and virtue, to support the representations that involve moral teaching or cultural indoctrination.
The Romantic movement
Spanish Romanticism merely snatched movement, with almost fifteen years in the theater. Without doubt the War of Independence and the subsequent absolutism of Fernando VII delayed the emergence of a movement that, as you know, dyes was highly revolutionary. However, we can say that the romantic Spanish match, in its broad lines, with German and French desire for transgression, which explains the frequent mixing of the tragic and the comic, verse and prose, much maligned by the neo-classical; abandonment of the three units, special attention to themes that revolve around love, platonic love and not with the backdrop of history and legend and many references to the injustices and abuses of power, mysterious heroes, near the myth, doomed to tragic deaths, but always faithful to his loving and heroic cause. In this sense, the romantic hero par excellence is the protagonist of Don Juan Tenorio by Zorrilla. In his romantic version of the myth, the legend Zorrilla provides some unusual levels of theatricality.
In relation to the forms of representation, it is remarkable that in this period, and the ideas of Larra, who devoted many articles to the problems besetting the theater, influenced in this regard, when the actors are first who need to renew the techniques of interpretation.
The other trend in the Spanish theatre of the beginning of the century is popular theatre, the social drama of manners that ends deriving in a original style: the farce. Their main representant will be Arniches (1866-1943), creator of grotesque tragedy, a kind of works that caricatured the middle class. Although one must not forget that kind of criticism raised by this drama was always tempered by commercial interests.
Soon, the authors looked for other non-commercial ways to put their works on stage outside of the big theaters. Among these attempts to create an avant-garde theater highlights the work of the University Theater: El Búho de Max Aub and La Barraca de Eduardo Ugarte and García Lorca. The last one, one of the great poets of the century, was among the few members of the Generation of 27 who were interested in the theater. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and the murder of Lorca came to derail the career of an author who had an extraordinary talent and cutting-edge quality difficult to please the public's traditional theater.
Theater during the Franco’s Time
After the trauma of war, the playwrights of the postwar period faced a tough censorship that made it difficult, if not impossible, to offer a critical vision of reality. There are two figures that emerge in this closed society unmasking, although from different perspectives, the reality of which no one wanted to speak publicly: Buero Vallejo and Alfonso Sastre. The theater of Buero investigates the ambiguous and tragic condition of human freedom, while Sastre's work is inseparable from its communist history, sees the theater as an instrument of revolutionary action. At the end of the 1950s emerged a new development, the authors of the so-called lost generation. Authors such as Lauro Olmo, Luis Martín Matilla recalled or soon acquire, by their systematic marginalization of the public and commercial venues, awareness group. Also coincide in their approach and themes: continuing the line of critical realism, about the exploitation of man by man and social injustice.
The Spanish current scene
With the return of democracy, had an official renovation of the theatre. Male and female theater directors until then vetoed, as Miguel Narros or Nuria Espert, and other new names, such as Lluís Pascual, enter to the direction of the national theater, focusing their programs on the major classical and contemporary playwrights and recovering the Spanish authors of the 98 and the beginnings of the century, as Lorca and Valle-Inclán.
Only a few have survived and have been able to maintain continuity: Els Joglars, directed by Albert Boadella, whose controversial and provocative montages always have the support of the public.