Neoclassical Ideals

What’s up, everybody? Now I know what I’m going to talk to you about probably has pretty much nothing to do with the show tonight, but I think it’s worthwhile stuff for you to think about. Hey, it might even help some of the bands here. So what I’m going to tell you about are the ideals of neoclassical theatre. That basically means what people thought about drama during the Italian renaissance. Basically, the critics of this time were really about following what the Romans and Greeks said about theatre, although they ended up being a lot more rigid with their rules than the people they were inspired by. To be totally honest, they wanted to give mandates to the playwrights who wrote around this time.

There were two main critics during this time, Julius Caesar Scaliger and Lodovico Castelvetro, and while I know we all hate critics it might be worthwhile to think about what they theorized about.  They agreed on the big stuff, but they varied when it came down to the details. Scaliger was all about the ideas of decorum and verisimilitude, which basically just meant being truthful. The biggest thing he talked about was the fact that theatre was supposed to teach people, move them, and also delight them. Also, everything that the characters in plays did absolutely had to be within the social norm of the time or they would seem ridiculous.

Castelverto was a bit more radical than Scaliger, and he argued a lot that theatre was created specifically to, as he said, “please the ignorant multitude”. He also really wanted people to enjoy the theatre for the experience rather than how good the play’s writing was. That’s not such a bad idea, is it? This was a bit weird for the time, though. Also, he was really big on the idea that the needs and demands of the audience were what should rule the plays. Like, if the play changed locations it would be stupid because the audience knew that they were still in the same place, and he was really adamant about the face that the plays written should be set in the time of one day and shouldn’t change location at all.

Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 151-153. Print.



                Hey when you think of the word Corrales what do you think of? Uncle’s stable out in Guatemala. That would be a pretty good answer, Corrales (the Spanish word for pen) were theatres that were shaped in the same way as the typical stable of the time. They were similar to the theatres that I told you about in England with the open air roof, and the roofed boxes for the wealthy and the nobles. The entrance would be at the back facing the stage and there would be a place to sit for all of the “groundlings” or “mosqueteros, the Spanish word for musketeers, (Wilson and Goldfarb 202) in the open air area. When you walked into the entrance of the theatre and looked at the stage you would find rows of boxes on either side of the theatre and above you. When you looked at them it would look as though you had walked into a stable for the horses.

                The biggest thing that would be different between the Spanish theaters of the Golden Age and the English Theaters of the Renaissance, the shape. English theaters were typically shaped in a polygon unless they were indoors. The Corrales were typically placed in a courtyard of  a large house or in the shape of a courtyard placed in the middle of a hotel. They were built in a rectangle and would have a center section that was about the size of a soccer field for all of the poorer people to sit. At the front of the theatre you would find a row or two of benches that were sperated from the rest of the year and sometimes they were put in a semicircle formation and were called “lunetas” or “small moons”. (Wilson & Goldfarb 202) In some of the theaters you would see elevated benches underneath of the boxes.




                Women in this time were allowed to sit in the theater many of the places could only hold 350 women and they were also allowed to sit in the boxes as long as they were accompanied by a man as well. It was very rare that you would find them in the boxes since those were specifically reserved for nobles, government officials, and the clergy. 




Works Cited: 

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 201-204. Print.

Wild, Larry. “Renaissance Theatre: Spain.” Renaissance Theatre: Spain., n.d. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Unknown, . “Talking Strings.” The University of British Colombia. Linda Fenton Malloy Design, n.d. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Secular theatre in the Spanish Golden Age

So something I’ve been learning about recently in my Theatre History class is the Spanish Golden Age of theatre. It was pretty golden because of the fact that it during the era religious and secular theatre managed to thrive side by side. This was pretty unusual, and I found it to be a pretty refreshing change from the other eras of theatre history that I have read about up to this point. Both these styles of theatre were pretty honestly equally produced and they were also both treated with equal professionalism.

In terms of secular theatre, the full length plays made around this time were called comedia nuevas or, as was more simply put, comedias. You probably think that this meant that they were pretty much all comedies, but actually the plays were given this name regardless of whether they were actually comedies or more serious plays. Actually, there wasn’t much of a stigma about how serious or how comedic these plays were supposed to be, so the playwrights were given a lot of freedom to write the style of play that they wanted in terms of mixing serious and funny content. Typically, they were written about love and honor, and tended to place the leading characters as minor nobles. They were also episodic plays much like what was seen in England at this time, but they usually ended up being three acts instead of five, like what was seen in England.

The closest more modern example of what was typical of golden age Spanish drama would be things like the old swashbuckling films that were popular in the 40’s, romance novels and, funnily enough, soap operas. A typical example of a Spanish comedia would be The King, The Greatest Mayor. Written in 1620, this play was about an arraigned marriage between a farmer’s daughter, Elvira, and a peasant named Sancho, who asks his lord for approval. Once his lord, Don Tello, sees Elvira he actually ends up wanting to keep her all to himself. That’s really just the basic outline of the plot at the beginning of the show, but it’s clear that it ends up being really dramatic, with clashes between peasant and lord, kidnappings, and everything required for a good melodrama.

Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 193-207. Print.

The Scarlet Letter

My Dearest Family,

Hello! I have not seen you for while and thought I would update you on what I am learning in History of Theatre. We are covering the Spanish Golden Age, which began to flourish in the sixteenth century, after the Spanish Armada was defeated by England.

First came Spanish Religious drama, or plays that were performed in churches. The original themes of these plays were very similar to other European religious dramas, but they eventually became one-act sacrament stories. These plays were performed during the “autos sacramentales” (Wilson and Goldfarb 195) festival, where their stories combined morality and mystery, with elements of the supernatural. While religious drama spread in popularity throughout churches in Spain, they were also performed by acting troupes. These troupes would mount their plays on wagons called “carros” (Wilson and Goldfarb 195), and would move from festival to festival.

By the end of the sixteenth century, new works called “comedias nuevas” (Wilson and Goldfarb 197) began to appear. Though these shows were called comedias, they included everything from comedies to tragedies, and sometimes a hybrid of both.  Like the religious plays in the Spanish Golden Age, these comedias often had a supernatural element to them and were written in episodic form (if we can consider each one act sacrament play a religious episode). The plays were very similar to those of the English Renaissance in structure, but not content. Spanish themes often included: “…love and honor, daring adventures, melodramatic confrontations, and rescues” (Wilson and Goldfarb 198). They would be similar melodramas, romantic novels, and soap operas of today.

Another similarity the Spanish and English shared was their theatres. Both were staged in open-air courtyards covered by a roof.  But unlike the English, women were allowed to perform on the stage. Women began acting in religious works and then expanded their playing opportunities. Though many laws were passed to keep women off of male dominated stages, cross dressing eventually became illegal on a Spanish stage allowing women to secure their spot as actresses.

I hope you enjoyed my little theatre update, family. I will see you soon! 

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 193-207. Print.

Dear dad

Dad, although the state payed for most of it I know that you put a lot of time and effort into putting me through a private catholic high school. I also know that you have bent over backwards to support me in my dream of becoming an actress. So, as a small token of my gratitude for my religious and theatrical upbring I am going to present to you the rich history of religion in theatre: in the form of an informative blog post about religious theatre in Spain.

    Religious plays in Spain were originally performed in churches as part of the service and centered around a religious subject matter. These plays became so popular that spanish playwrights became inspired to write plays similar to the religious plays that the spanish people loved so much. These copy cat plays were written for Corpus Christi, this festival celebrated the powers of the sacraments and took place approximately two months after easter. These plays came to be known as auto sacramental;auto meaning one act play and sacramental referring to the sacraments. Though after a while in came to pass that any play that was written for Corpus Christi was referred to as auto sacramental  even if that play had nothing to do with the sacraments.  

    Autos sacramentales combined elements of medieval morality and mystery plays and could be based on secular as well as religious sources; they included supernatural, human, allegorical characters. The one requirement was that they underscore the validity of the church’s teaching”(Living Theatre: A  History)


    Autos sacramentales were important to people of this time and culture. So important in fact that all Autos sacramentales that prior to performing at The Corpus Christi had to have a private showing for the king and the city council in order to gain their approval before they could be performed at the festival.  

    One of my favorite things that I have learned about these plays is that they were performed on waggons called carros. This is an element of theatre that I think should be brought back. It would make sharing playing spaces a lot easier plus if the play was bad then we could just wheel it off a hill.


Work Cited

Wilson, Edwin. Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: A  History. 6th ed. McGraw Hill, 2004,  

            2000,1994,1980, page 230


This is actually an interesting cool story and not one of my lame facts!

Okay! So I have to tell you guys about this cool thing I was reading about in my theatre history textbook. So right now we are learning about the Spanish Golden Age and I was beginning to read all about the kinds of stages that they used to perform their shows on.


The technical name for the public theatres they used are known as Corrales, and they were open spaces with galleries and boxes that were protected by a roof. So the Corrales are basically just like the Globe and other Elizabethan theatres. So the shows were performed at 2 p.m. because they used the natural sunlight for their lighting and since the sun is shining all bright mostly in the afternoon and 2 p.m. is smack dab in the middle of the afternoon that was the time they chose. They started at 2 during the colder months and during the warmer months they would start an hour or two later (Wilson & Goldfarb 201). Probably because of Daylight Savings Time, is it on or off during the winter? I can never remember….anyways!


Okay we are getting really close to the really cool part! I promise this is actually cool and interesting unlike most of my other stories….

The stage in a Corral was a platform that sits opposite the entrance to the courtyard (the theatres were built in courtyards by the way). You would get into the yard from a street building and other entrances for other seating areas.  The yard was mostly referred to as the patio and since it was the yard, you guessed it that’s where people stood. Right at the front of the patio there was a row of stools called taburetes and were separated from the rest of the yard by railing (202). I guess this was the seating for the golden chosen few.


Okay! Here is the part I really wanted to tell you about! So on the back wall that was opposite of the stage and above the main entranceway was a gallery that was called the cazuela. This is where the women could sit and it had its own separate entrance and was carefully guarded to prevent men from entering (203)!


ISN’T THAT COOL! Women had special body guards to stop men from coming into their private box! So basically if we were Spanish women living during the Golden Age then Marin, Mom and I could all sit in a private box with body guards for us while Dad you’d have to stand in the yard like a commoner! Only the women get the special treatment! Sorry Daddy…..


But I hope you thought that was as cool as a did, I also think it’s funny that the Spanish theatres are basically just copying the Elizabethan ones, so every time we’ve been to the Globe if we just imagine it is sort of like a Spanish theatre. Neat huh?









Works Cited

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre History of Theatre. 6. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.

Wind is the Barber-ness of the Dove Who Played With Fire: Zarzuelas at the Feast

DISCLAIMER: All characters and family dynamics in the following blog post are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to aspects of the essential nature of my family’s shared history is purely hilarious.


Me? It’s my turn? Well. I guess I should start by saying that I’m thankful to be here with all of you this Thanksgiving weekend. I’m sure all of our thoughts and prayers are with Lindsee while she waits at the Instacare for them to stitch up the gash she made in her own thigh by trying to cut turkey with a steak knife on a paper plate in her lap. I hope we all learned a lesson about browsing Reddit while trying to eat on the toilet. What a bizarre sentence to have to say aloud.

I must add that I am thankful to be back in school–thank you, thank you–after a long hiatus brought on primarily by our family’s loyalty to an organized religion that is younger than either Dostoevsky or Louis Vuitton—neither of whom, before Grandma asks, is my “gay  boyfriend.”

As we gather here for Thanksgiving at our family’s summer home and hunting lodge I find myself yearning for something more. I reflect on the sharp contrast between our diversions–splitting our focus between the television and our plates of greasy starch-flesh–and the irretrievably elegant seasonal entertainments presented at the home of King Felipe IV of Spain: the zarzuelas. No, Grandpa, Spain is not in Mexico. No, this is not the same Felipe who is married to your home health aide. No, I don’t know where you left your gray jacket. Did you check the back of your chair? You’re right, someone must have stolen it and put it back just now to make you look stupid. That makes perfect sense.

Zarzuelas. Say it out loud; caress the word with your tongue. Embrace the Catalonian fricative lisp, even if it is not appropriate to the pronunciation: tharthuelath. Why, WHY have we abandoned such a vibrant, culturally significant entertainment? Why would we ever choose to neglect a form of musical theatre that smelted pure artistic gold from the precious ore of mythology and Spanish history? Why am I still talking about zarzuelas?  Is it because “the subject matter of the zarzuela is seen as less universal and thus less accessible to international audiences?” (Wilson, Goldfarb 206) Or is it because, since you have expressed discomfort with my wine consumption in years past, I have instead elected to forego wine in favor of a handful of Vicodin and an “edible” given to me by a friend from Colorado?

Who can say?

(Also, please do not interpret this as an invitation to reprise last year’s altercation regarding the country’s failed war on drugs. To recap: I am still right and you are still sober and no sensation of divine righteousness can even approach what I am feeling at the moment.)

Listen to these titles and thrill to the memory of what once was—the true gold of the Spanish Golden Age: Play with Fire, The Merry Barber of Lavapies, The Feast of the Dove, Wind is the Happiness of Love.

“Wind is the Happiness of Love!” What does that even mean? It defies comprehension. It transcends meaning. Imagine the power of this zarzuela expanded into a trilogy with music drawn entirely from the incomparable oeuvre of Earth, Wind, and Fire:

Earth is the Winter-ness of Our Discontent

Wind is the Funk-ness of the Discotheque

Fire is the Harbinger of Gonorrhea

Ah, Debra! Hail and good morrow to thee. Much as the Italian-born fourth wife of Fernando VII brought opera to Spain, forcing the era of zarzuelas to a close, so does the Tooele-born fifth wife of our father bring her cheezy potatoes to our table, forcing our era of uncomplicated bowel movements to its premature conclusion.

In closing I ask only that we reflect on my aborted attempts to resurrect sympathy for this unjustly benighted art form and remember, as always, that Brendan eats farts, yea, verily, all the farts on earth and in hell where he shall reside in the presence of his Lord Satan for eternity DIBS ON THE UPSTAIRS BATHROOM! KISS MY ENTIRE ASS!

Happy Thanksgiving, suckers! I hid all the toilet paper!


Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: A History Of Theatre. 6th. 1. New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2012. 206. Print.