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Theatrical Landscape of Spain

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Theatrical Landscape of Spain
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Unlike the German local and state theatres, Spanish theatres are as a rule not production sites. The three divisional German style theatre with a permanently employed ensemble and a wide-ranged repertoire are unknown to the Spanish theatre system. Private and public theatres have one or two places to perform, as well as administration and staff for management and technology. The private theatres are entirely unfamiliar with self-productions; they work with production societies instead. Even the alternative theatres do not usually produce themselves, but put their stages at the disposal of freelance theatre groups in exchange for sharing the profit.

The author generation
In spite of the considerable loss of the importance of playwrights, a highly developed and complex text theatre exists in Spain. The first generation of authors in democratic Spain created a theatre that was developed in the context of American and European theatre and owes important aspirations to authors like Samuel Beckett, Heiner Müller, Harold Pinter, David Mamet and Bernard-Marie Koltès. The authors of the 80ies such as José Sanchis Sinisterra (*1940), Josep Maria Benet I Jornet (*1940), José Luis Alonso de Santos (*1942), Fermín Cabal (*1948) or Ignacio Amestoy shaped the Spanish contemporary theatre by offering theatre workshops, which the majority of the following generation passed through. With few exceptions, the works of these authors are regularly performed, at least at the alternative theatres. Only some of the authors, for example Sergi Belbel and Juan Mayorga, have managed to bring their plays to the big stages.

Postmodern impressions
The thematic variety of Spanish contemporary theatre cannot hide the fact that its authors have experienced similar socialisation and share mutual cultural experiences. Above all, it displays the features of the post-modern era, like the loss of trust in political Utopias, the coherent creation of meaning and the ability of language to represent reality objectively. This cultural socialisation has an effect on the thematic orientation of theatre productions. Topics such as private relationship problems, isolation and problems of communication in a city, the questioning of gender-specific behaviour or forbidden sexual subjects are reproduced over and over again.

The protagonists of the play, who are often nameless and impersonal, are usually vulnerable and aggressive, highly sensitive and violent at the same time. The characters have no sense of moral values and are afflicted by post-modern relativism and social selfishness. Next to the presentation of problems of every life, social topics like violence, drug abuse and racism are the focus of interest. Existential loneliness with the inability to communicate and that of being an outsider are subjects that are dependent of each other. Violence, in all forms and in all parts of life, is one of the most important subjects of the Spanish contemporary theatre.