Through my previous blog you already know that I’m obsessed with anything that has to do with words, performances, theatre, concerts, … For now, I would like to go into detail about the theatre itself and more specific the Spanish theatre. I already know a lot about the history and the developments of Belgium theatre, the main achievements in this culture genre, the most famous actors, directors,… With this blog I’d like to share my experiences about the Spanish theatre, something I had to look up for myself because I didn’t know anything about it before.
In my opinion, the most interesting case study about Spanish theatre is the Spanish Golden Age theatre. The term ‘Golden Age’ (or Siglo de Oro) is used to describe what is broadly the Early Modern period in Spain, a time of extraordinary artistic flowering. The period stretches from the mid sixteenth century to the death of the great playwright, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, in 1681. This time period had a big influence on the future structure and language, used in Spanish theatre, since it became so popular. Even the three classic unities re-emerged because of it.
Before the Golden Age, Spanish theatre was really traditional and themes were mainly religious. It was only because of Lope de Vega that the period could develop itself in this huge capacity and could produce such a vibrant dramatic legacy. According to the online biographical encyclopaedia, his most famous plays were “La Arcadia”, “Los pastores de Belén”, “El peregrino en su patria”,… In these plays he mixed traditional elements with some new ideas. Later this blend was known as the “Comedia nueva”, which inspired lots of other playwrights (Tirso de Molina, Guillén de Castro, Mira de Amescua and Ruiz de Alarcón as the most famous ones) to come up with something new. The quantity and variety of Spanish plays, which arose, was enormous and even surpassed the popularity of the dramatic English productions. It weren’t only the rich people anymore who went to the theatre. The concept got so popular that even the lower classes invested money in going out to watch a play, as a new hobby.
Speaking of the variety, the Spanish theatre was the only theatre in Europe which included both secular and religious dramas, during the period of the Golden Age. Furthermore, both sponsored plays as theatre for profit existed harmoniously at the same time, which was exclusive for Spain in that time. Straight plays, operas, comedies, autos sacramentales, tragedies, zarzuela… the different types were unlimited. Costums, on the other hand, weren’t that original or new during that time. They were very similar to Elizabethan or English Renaissance theatre costumes. The reason for this is that they were controlled by the government, who made a lot of rules dictating the specifications of the outfits.
With this, the main idea of the Spanish Golden Age Theatre is set. If you would like to know more, you can always start your research with wikipedia or “Out of the Wings“, a site specialised in Spanish theatre. Furthermore, you can also check-out this video, which proofs that theatre and even the traditional theatre is still hip! Students explain (0:42) what theatre is in a funny way, interviewing “local people”.
See you next week, with more cultural info!
Jana De Tandt