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Theatrical Landscape of Spain

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Theatrical Landscape of Spain
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Highly sensitive and violent at the same time

by Wilfried Floeck

Franco and the consequences
The Spanish theatre was run privately under Franco's government. It was seen as a place of more or less sophisticated entertainment of the middle-class. Additionally, a censorship of critical representation separated the countries' political and social reality from the theatre. After the censorship had been abolished in 1978, the government began to construct a public theatre system: The Centro Dramático Nacional dedicated itself to the performance of international classics as well as Spanish classics of the modern age. The Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico set up a repertoire with Spanish classics of the 16th to 19th century. An independent experimental forum was offered to young authors by the Centro Nacional de Nuevas Tendencias Escéncias (until it was incorporated in the CDN in 1994). The disadvantage of the rise of the public theatre system was a severe loss of importance for the private theatres. In order to secure their survival, they have been relying on musicals and the commitments of TV and film stars.

After the theatre centres had been constructed, all fields of theatre were made professional and the theatre expanded to the province. In the historical autonomous regions, Catalonian, Galician and Basque theatre have developed, whereby Catalonia has taken over an excellent role. The founding of several theatre festivals has also lead to diversification.

Alternative theatre as a third option
As in the rest of Europe, one could also say that in Spain the production theatre has lost its significance, whereas text- and author theatre has boomed, although it is having considerable problems finding a suitable niche. However, a third option has developed within the outlined system, which may at least offer a chance of survival: the alternative theatre. A few small theatre groups, who claim to be the new socially critical and experimental contemporary theatre, have come across the gap between the private and public theatre. It provides the young authors a marginal, yet nevertheless important forum. As a matter of fact, the aesthetically advanced theatre gave performances at the turn of the 20th century on small experimental stages in mainly Madrid and Barcelona.