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The Triumphant Juan Rana

The Triumphant Juan Rana: A Gay Actor of the Spanish Golden Age

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    The Triumphant Juan Rana
    Book Description:

    Juan Rana was the most famous buffoon of his time. An actor working during the years 1617-1672, he achieved a status similar to that of the Italian Harlequin and was a favourite of the ruling monarchy and the general populace. Over fifty short plays were written especially for Rana by some of the most important playwrights of the day, including Pedro Calderón de la Barca, who crowned Rana the most famousgraciosoof the baroque era.

    Juan Rana was arrested in 1636 for the 'nefarious sin' of homosexuality and thereafter played more gender bending, transvestite, and homosexual roles. Many of his roles wrestle with issues of gender, sexual, and biological difference but, surprisingly, little work has been done on the important issue of his sexuality. InThe Triumphant Juan Rana, Peter E. Thompson examines the actor's sexuality both on and off the stage and demonstrates that his homosexuality was tolerated, even understood and applauded, by the public. Thompson challenges many preconceived ideas about the Spanish Golden Age and fills an existing void in queer studies of this important period in European theatrical and literary history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8245-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 What’s in a Name?
    (pp. 3-20)

    Juan Rana’s long and successful acting career spanned the period from 1617 to 1672, one of the most important periods in Spanish history and theatre. He was the star of the Spanish baroqueentremés, or theatrical interlude and a major drawing card – much like theentremésitself – that ensured the financial success of the theatre production as a whole. This actor’s popularity andfamawas not limited to the rowdymosqueteros(groundling spectators)² standing in front of the stage; he was also greatly esteemed and even protected by the powerful noble class and the monarchy. Maria Luisa Lobato states that...

  5. 2 The Self-‘Reflective’ Juan Rana: Acting, Meaning, Being the Double/Doppelgänger
    (pp. 21-64)

    Pedro Calderón de la Barca called Juan Rana the ‘máximo gracioso’ of the Golden Ageentremés.¹ This extraordinary tribute by one of the greatest playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age heralds the singularity of Juan Rana’s created persona, the uniqueness of his acting ability, and the longevity of his career. Many other greatentremesistaswho wrote specifically for him included Luis de Belmonte Bermúdez, Francisco Bernardo de Quirós, Gerónimo de Cáncer y Velasco, Augustín Moreto y Cavana, Luis Quiñones de Benavente, and Sebastián de Villaviciosa. They also believed that only one actor in this era was capable of his histrionic...

  6. 3 Crossing the Gendered ‘Clothes’-Line
    (pp. 65-110)

    The multiple and multifaceted doublings of the Juan Rana persona created by various playwrights generated an ambiguous and evocative stage representation of identity. This staged persona based in part on the actor’s well-known person showed identity to be mutable, undefinable, and illusory. The end result of this perplexing presentation of identity was an onstage metaphysical questioning of reality itself which undoubtedly caused self-doubt and self-reflection in the minds of some spectators, be it on a conscious or subconscious level. As such, the playwrights who wrote for Juan Rana and the actor himself showed that the perception of identity and reality...

  7. 4 ‘Mas apetezco fuentes que braseros’: Phallic Innuendoes and Confessions
    (pp. 111-154)

    In the previous chapters the visual and the semantic can be considered equal partners in yielding the parodic ambiguity desired by Juan Rana and the playwrights who wrote for him. Juan Rana’s doubling effect, evident in various physical and artistic forms, operates hand in hand with the many semantic double entendres played on the Juan Rana person and persona. The same can be said of the actor’s gender-bending roles as a cross-dressing actor. The theatrical transvestite and the accompanying semantic word plays correlate as a scandalous means of achieving immediate gut-wrenching laughter and a critique of societal identity and perceived...

  8. 5 The Triumphant Juan Rana
    (pp. 155-160)

    Juan Rana enjoyed a long and highly successful career within one of the most important theatrical traditions and periods in all of Europe, the Spanish Golden Age. Significantly, the playwrights who wrote for him and the public who cheered him on invented a mask that could rival those of the commedia dell’arte tradition and this during his own lifetime. Remarkably, as this study of Juan Rana’s person/persona has demonstrated, much of Juan Rana’s favoured and famed stature and the essence of his invented mask was a product of an ambiguous and amphibolic portrayal of homosexuality.

    The ‘self-reflective’ Juan Rana created...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 161-170)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-178)
  11. Index
    (pp. 179-183)