Religious Theatre in the Spanish Golden Age!

     Religious drama is a very important part of the Spanish Golden age. Once the country of Spain was united at the end of the fifteenth century, religious theatre was fully established and flourished (Wilson and Goldfarb 193). The importance of this religious theatre in Spain continued for a long time; much longer than in other countries (Wilson and Goldfarb 193). These religious dramas were first performed actually inside the churches during ceremonies and masses. 

     There a few aspects of Spanish religious theatre that differentiates theatre created in Spain from that of other cultures. Spanish religious plays were known as autos sacramentals, which were written for Corpus Christi festival. These one act plays would honor and refer to the sacraments (Wilson and Goldfarb 195). The plays would serve to validate the teachings of the church. The plays had characteristics of medieval morality and mystery plays (Wilson and Goldfarb 195). 

     In the 1600s, professional troupes performing autos sacramentals would have to perform their piece for the king and then the city council to approve before performing for the public (Wilson and Goldfarb 195). The troupes would tour through villages and mount their plays on carros, or wagons that the plays could travel on (Wilson and Goldfarb 195). All of these plays and their equipment were funded by the government (Wilson and Goldfarb 195). This shows that the production of religious plays was very important to the spanish culture at the time. Religious dramas are still important to Spain today as some are in fact still performed. 


Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.


Shakespeare in Elizabethan Drama

     The time that Shakespeare wrote in is known as the Elizabethan age, or the English Renaissance. In this time literature, exploration, politics, and further education were booming in England, making this a valuable time fro playwriting (Wilson and Goldfarb 160). This was the time that William Shakespeare, one of the greatest play writes of all time began his work. Shakespeare was able to use so many valuable elements to creating a play set by those before him. He used English and Roman history, ancient Roman drama, Italian literature, the ideas of episodic plot structure, dramatic verse, Senecan devices, and more, to create some of the greatest theatrical works of all time (Wilson and Goldfarb 163). 

    Shakespeare, born in 1564, grew up in Stratford Upon Avon. His father was a leather glove maker (Wilson and Goldfarb 163). He attended the King’s New School in his childhood where he studied a lot of latin. It is recorded that he married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and began having children with her. By 1590 he was working in London as an actor and play write (Wilson and Goldfarb 163). 

    While in London, Shakespeare wrote narrative poems and worked for the London acting company. He associated with the leading troupe in London, the Lord Chamberlain’s men, later known as the King’s men. With this troupe he produced his many plays from about 1595 to 1614 (Wilson and Goldfarb 164). He was skilled in all aspects of theatre making his works so remarkable. Shakespeare was an actor, play write, and member of a dramatic company, who also understood the technical aspects of the theatre (Wilson and Goldfarb 164). His characters were complete and well rounded and the verse used in his writing were extraordinary (Wilson and Goldfarb 164). He had all the right tools to create brilliant and timeless works. 

Works Cited:


Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.

Neoclassicism in the Italian Renaissance

      Neoclassical ideals are rules of dramatic criticism fabricated during the Italian Renaissance (Wilson and Goldfarb 151). The neoclassical ideas had a great affect on theatre criticisms and theories there forward. Neoclassicists were influenced by the works of ancient Greek and Roman critics. Mainly, the ideas appear to be based on the models of Horace as they set out to make requirements for play writes to abide by in writing their plays (Wilson and Goldfarb 151).  

        A main principle of neoclassicism is known as decorum. Decorum is the idea that all fictional characters  in dramatic works need to act in ways suitable to their age, gender, and social class. It was an expectation that all characters would act appropriately to their status in life (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). In doing this, theatrical works would be more accurate to real life and reflect real people. The situations in plays would be relatable to every day people. This concept of making stories true to life is known as verisimilitude (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). This meant that events that did not happen in the real world were forbidden from the stage such as ghosts appearing or supernatural events taking place (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). Verisimilitude made stock characters “recognizable and verifiable from real life” (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). These concepts were big characteristics of the neoclassicists beliefs. 

       Neoclassicists also had a very certain definition of genre. There were specific traits that belonged to each genre that could not be strayed from. In their idea of tragedy, this type of play would only involve royalty. A tragedy must end in disparity. On the other hand, a comedy involved only the common people and ended in joy (Wilson and Goldfarb 153). These genres could never mix. Other rules the neoclassicists had were to keep all stage actions morally acceptable and exclude stage violence (Wilson and Goldfarb 153). The neoclassicists were very particular in their ways of doing things. These ideals had a great impact and are still looked upon today. 


Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.

New Architecture of the Italian Renaissance!

  During the Italian Renaissance, new architectural designs in theaters were being discovered. Theatre designs and scenery on stage were revolutionized in this period (Goldfarb and Wilson 140). In this time, three particular theatre buildings were founded that still stand today, which is really cool because they were created in the 1500s! These theaters are known as Teatro Olimpico, the theatre at Sabbioneta, and Teatro Farnese and the proscenium stage. 

     The Teatro Olimpico was the oldest of the three. This theatre was in fact built with intention of being used as an Olympic Academy in Vicenza. When the chief architect on the project, Andrea Palladio, died, the structure was continued and completed and built into a theatre by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1584. The venue was modeled after the structure of a Roman theatre. The difference is that it is indoor and smaller. This theatre holds room for three thousand audience members! They are seated on elliptical benches that create a semicircular orchestra (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The stage was raised as it is in modern auditorium style seating. This theatre specialized in creating three demential set pieces and creating the illusion of depth on the stage. They accomplished this by having openings in the facade that would have ally ways or street scenes that appeared to be happening in the distance (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The theatre was very innovative.

     The next is the theatre at Sabbioneta. This theatre was built by Scamozzi in 1588. This theatre was different because it was very small, holding only 250 seats. It can be seen as a smaller and intimate version of the Teatro Olimpico (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The stage is raised and has a painted panoramic scene at the back. This theatre was simple and did its job. 

    The last of the three is the Teatro Farnese and the proscenium stage. Teatro Farnese was constructed by architect Giovan Battista Aleotti. He created the Teatro Farnese in Parma which became the most well known and impressive theatre building of the Italian Renaissance (Goldfarb and Wilson 142).  The raised horseshoe seating in this theatre held 3,500 audience members. The orchestra in this theatre could actually be filled with water to create scenes at sea on stage! The most important part of the Teatro Farnese was the invention of the proscenium-arch stage (Goldfarb and Wilson 143). The proscenium arch is now one of the most popular of theatre spaces and is used constantly in theatres all over the world. The proscenium allows stage mechanisms to be hidden from the audience, contributing to realism on stage (Goldfarb and Wilson 143). The Teatro Farnese was revolutionary. 



Works Cited:


Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.

You May Also Like…

Hey mom and dad. 

I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support you gave me in my passion for theatre. I know it wasn’t your first choice, Dad, but I appreciate your finding a way to love it. One thing I’m most grateful for is your acquired love of Shakespeare.  Going to Cedar City with you guys to the Utah Shakespeare Festival has been an enormous benefit to me and my education. Without that, I wouldn’t have half the handle on Shakespeare I do now, and frankly, I may have ignored straight theatre altogether and lived my life only knowing musicals.

Since I know you two love Shakespeare so much, I thought I might introduce you to another beautiful sect of theatre: the Spanish Golden Age.  Many Spanish Golden Age plays could almost pass for Shakespeare. One particular Spanish playwright, Lope Felix De Vaga Carpio, had similar play structures, with many changing scenes and progressive story lines that could occur over long periods of time, and even the same characters. Well, not exactly the same, but the same type. Mom, remember how much you loved the oaf in the Merry Wives of Windsor?  Lope Felix De Vaga Carpio used the same sotck character of the compulsive liar, usually silly and fat as well, in his plays.  There are also examples of the same type characters all across the board from English Renaissance to Spanish Golden Age, with Romeo and Juliet’s Nurse as a typical character.

Plays in Spain even used the same beautiful style of writing with beautiful language and rhythm. Shakespeare wasn’t the only one o use iambic pentameter. 

So what do you say? Spain Theatre Festival next summer?

Works Referenced

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill , 2012. Print.

Get thee to a Nunnery!

In William Shakespeare’s time, women were not allowed to participate as actors in any Elizabethan acting companies. Why, you may ask? Women on the stage were believed to be more or less, glorified whores. It seems this perception, whether true or not, was a belief that stemmed from the religious ideologies left over from the Medieval Age. The reality is, women were viewed negatively if seen in a theatrical production.  Imagine going to Romeo and Juliet, to see a young boy in a dress play Juliet, the love interest of Romeo. As a modern audience member we might find the sexual implications distracting. However, the English Renaissance has not demonstrated any significant evidence to suggest audiences were distracted by the casting choices. As a modern audience member, I wonder how audience members responded to the spectacle. One can only theorize at this point in time. However, what is clear is the significant interest in sexual stereotyping. In Wilson and Goldfarb, they point out a clear example of this, seen in As You Like It. In this play, Rosalind disguises herself as a man. This seems pretty straight forward to modern actors and directors. However, during the English Renaissance a male actor would be cast as Rosalind (a woman), who pretends to be male. This creates a weird cycle of storytelling in which the actor is let off the hook in a way. Although fully capable in playing Rosalind the woman, the actor is allowed to be a “man” on stage throughout the unfolding of the play. Additionally, actors, aka males, had full reign on how women were to be portrayed in society. If we think of a modern day example, perhaps one can get a stronger sense of what was really occurring during this time in England. If we look at any major magazine for women at the local super market, chances are they are owned by Conde Nast. Perhaps this is a far fetched example, but one could argue that men are deciding how women should be perceived in society. Women, in turn, reading standard publications for women are influenced into conforming to the “ideal woman”. Perhaps this is too deep a debate to bring up in one blog post, but I think it is fair to say that can see how the English Renaissance still has a hold on how women are perceived in society today. Although women perform Shakespeare and other plays all the time, having more rights than previously seen on a grand global scale, it cannot go without saying that Shakespeare’s plays from the English Renaissance are still alive and well in today’s world, thus shaping how women are viewed on a small scale.

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. “Medieval Theatre.”Living Theatre: History of the Theatre. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Rock and Rules (Blog Post #8)

You know, man. . .theater and music, they’re all a part of art. And for some reason, everyone always thinks they have to put labels and rules on art. Curiosity is one thing. Trying to explain the world, is one thing. But human beings go too far sometimes, take things to extremes. Trying to tell everyone that one way is always right and another way is all wrong is completely different. These songs playing, for example—they’re all just fun and care-free, they exist for us to enjoy them. But some songs are out to make a point. They’re didactic. They’re trying to tell us how to feel and what to think, what’s right, what’s wrong, and what we should do. And you know, that’s not really a bad thing. But some people take it too far. Take the Italian critics of the Renaissance, for instance. These guys stuck hardcore to their neoclassical ideals. Instead of just trying to understand and explain theater of their time, they wrote down rules and literally attacked productions that didn’t adhere to them. Instead of going out there and making good art themselves, these fat cats sat around and tried to tell others what was good and what wasn’t.

First off, they said all theater should teach a lesson and tell the audience what to think, force-feeding a theme down their throats. They were also obsessed with “verisimilitude” which is just a fancy name for “realism.” And boy, did they get specific. Time was a big deal to them, and they felt that the action of the play couldn’t exceed 24 hours without becoming too unrealistic. Extremists cut that time down to 12 hours, or even 2 hours for the hard-core believers (I guess they would have loved the TV show “24”). They also had some vague rules about keeping the actions within the same “place” but that was open somewhat to interpretation. Stuff could be happening in different areas of the same city, or be restricted to the events happening in one room of one house. Don’t try any of that multiple locations crap though, or you’ll have to watch your back! (What’s this, related events taking place in multiple locations? Look out, we’ve got a bad ass up in here!) They also promoted unity of action, which just means it had to follow one simple plot revolving around the same small group of characters. Yeah, right, because multiple complex things happening to different places and to different people can’t affect each other. Last time I checked, life is complicated.


Works Cited

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre. 6th Edition. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 151-155. Print.