Sonnabend, 23. Januar 2021
 

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Theatrical Landscape of Spain

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Theatrical Landscape of Spain
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The formal and linguistic presentation of the plays is just as diverse as the topics. However, there appears to be tendencies here as well. The turn-of-the-century theatre is defined by simultaneously fragmented and deconstructed action sequences that are open-ended. The tone is not set by formal, literary language, but by conventionalised colloquial language. The neo-realist aesthetics include and deal with the experiences of the new media, changed awareness and metropolitan lifestyle. This becomes clear in the tendency towards deconstruction, the break-up of time and place structures, use of cinematic installations, the marked preference of the unknown and irrational, dissolution of coherent personalities or in the constant meta-theatrical reflecting.

A new type of author-theatre
Even if authors and their texts haven't been able to regain their former position, their importance is still unquestionable. The dichotomy of text and performance and of author and stage director respectively, which was stressed for a long time, seems to have been overcome. Now the theatrical potential of dramatic texts in Spain remains beyond doubt, and the playwright of today has usually descended from a theatrical environment, bringing useful experiences as a stage artist or producer. Often the author directs the production of his plays personally, or the texts are created during the rehearsals. The forming of a new type of theatre-creator is an international phenomenon, yet it is very distinct in Spain.

Although text and performance have moved closer together, two different tendencies are evident in the Spanish contemporary theatre. The innovators of neo-realist texts and the author theatre of the 80ies in past century – from Sanchis Sinisterra to Juan Mayorga – have also very much shaped the young generation's theatre, in which words are the essential means of expression. Equal to this is the picture-body-sound theatre of separate groups, from La Fura dels Baus to Els Joglars, as well as a small group of authors, from which Rodrigo García and Angélica Liddell especially stand out. While the author and text theatre can leave the circle of alternative theatre and appeals to an extensive audience, the experimental theatre remains restricted to the alternative scene or performances at international theatre festivals.

Spanish not spoken
Spanish theatre is not well received in Germany. With the great exception of García Lorca, hardly any author of the 20th century is performed on German stages. Occasionally plays by José Sanchis Sinisterra, Josep Maria Benet i Jornet, Javier Tomeo or Jordi Galcerán can be seen. Unlike the novel, the Spanish theatre could not establish itself in Germany. For a long time, critics related this to Spain's political and cultural isolation in Europe. Yet meanwhile it seems to be connected with the precarious position of young authors and text theatre in Spain, where the theatre's general loss of importance is more distinct than in other European countries.

More important concerning the lack of acceptance of Spanish theatre on the German stage, it seems to me regarding foreign theatre in Germany in the last century that the stage here is characterised by an Anglo-Saxon tradition. Of course this situation has to do with the language barrier. Spanish is generally not spoken in the German theatrical landscape. The same goes for the theatre agencies that act as central negotiators between authors and theatres, as well as for the employers responsible for German translations.

This situation is unsatisfactory, especially within a European Union that is taking up the cause to break down the political, cultural and linguistic barriers. There is still a lot to do for the culture negotiators on both sides. It should be the task of theatre agencies, publishers, translators, Hispanics, as well as the artistic directors and dramaturges to overcome these obstacles and make the voice of Spanish contemporary theatre heard on German stages. There are plenty of good authors and texts available.

This report is a greatly condensed version of Wilfried Floeck's "Das spanische Theater am Übergang vom 20. zum 21. Jahrhundert" in Walther L. Bernecker (Hrsg.), Spanien heute. Politik-Wirtschaft-Kultur, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 2008, S. 434-464.

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Read more about José Manuel Mora.

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