Golden Age Spanish Theater, Then and Now

Actor Denis Rafter performs in Madrid (Photo credit: Jose Vicente)

Actor Denis Rafter performs in Madrid (Photo credit: Jose Vicente)

Reported by Amanda Spiller ’17

Students, professors, and community members gathered at the Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center, for a Sept. 18 talk on Spanish Renaissance theater by Susan L. Fischer, professor emerita of Spanish and comparative literature at Bucknell University. Fischer’s lecture focused on the ever-evolving performances of plays such as La Celestina (The Go-Between, 1499) and El Médico de su honra (The Physician of His Honor, 1635), which have been reinterpreted many times since they were first written.

“It was great for students to learn about contemporary stagings of the plays,” said Professor of Romance Languages Margaret Boyle, who teaches some of the same material in her classroom. As Fischer explained, the evolution in Golden Age Spanish theater performance has been largely tied to technology. For instance, modern lighting, stages, and visual effects have freed theater performances from the influences of weather and time of day, and broadened the scope of theatrical interpretation.

Fischer noted, however, that some changes have made performances more restrictive. One case in point: noise from the audience used to be encouraged, whereas theatergoers today are told to silence their cellphones and keep quiet. Through her exploration of the work of modern directors such as Adolfo Marsillach, Fischer prompted the audience to reflect on the good and the bad that has come with the evolution of theater performance over the centuries.

thumb: