Spanish Renaissance Drama

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Reading Guide

  1. When was the “Golden Age” (siglo de oro) in Spanish drama? Who are the major dramatists discussed by Victor Dixon, and when, relative to each other, did they write?
  2. How did Italian traditions influence Spanish Golden Age drama (144, 145, 163, 164ff)?
  3. Dixon describes four kinds of actors, each of which played in different locations and in different forms of drama. What are the four major types of actors? What and where did they play (145)?
  4. What three “critical factors” led to what Dixon calls Spain's “most characteristic and dominant form of drama” (145)? How did these three factors shape Spanish Golden Age drama (throughout)?
  5. What three basic kinds of performance were popular in the Spanish Golden Age (throughout)?
  6. Describe, in as much detail as possible, the material context of a corral in 16th and 17th century Spain. Include the theater itself, audience organization and price of admission, cost, performance times, the legal and public image of the actor, the make-up of the troupe (145-149). What kinds of plays were performed there, and what was their ideological bent (161)? What constraints did the material context of the theatrical space put on the plays themselves?
  7. Financially and legally, how were corrales operated? What was the role of licensing, censorship, and the police? In what way ways the structure of the acting company “hierarchical,” and what did this mean for what was performed and how it was performed (149, 157)?
  8. In what ways are the Corpus Christi festivities “the keystone of the drama of Golden Age Spain” (148)?
  9. Who was Lope de Vega, and what was his role in the development of the drama of the Golden Age? How many plays did he write, and what were his “favorite subjects” (150ff)?
  10. What are the major characteristics of the “New Comedy,” the comedia (151-3)?
  11. The Golden Age is known for its vast quanties of dramatic output. Why was there so much theater being created? What was the impact of such quantity on performance, on actors, on playwrights (157, throughout)? What are the effects of theatre becoming a “mass medium,” and what does this mean (161)? Why were many plays—autos as well as comedias—written?
  12. Describe court theater, as Dixon discusses it (161-168). What are the different kinds of court performance? Where would it have occurred? What characterizes court performance? What is “court patronage”? Did it increase, or decrease in the 17th century (161)? Why?
  13. Where would the monarch have sat in a court performance, and why (167-8)?
  14. Describe the religious theater “unique to Golden Age Spain” (168-172). See question 8 above (148). What similarities do you note between medieval performance and the autos sacramentales of the Spanish Golden Age (168ff)?
  15. At the end of the chapter, Dixon provides a paragraph of overview discussing the major trends of the period. What are these major trends?
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