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Sergi Belbel and Catalan Theatre

Sergi Belbel and Catalan Theatre: Text, Performance and Identity

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Sergi Belbel and Catalan Theatre
    Book Description:

    By the late 1970s, internationally known performance groups such as Els Joglars, La Fura dels Baus or La Cubana had precipitated a decline in text-based Catalan theatre, reversed in the mid 1980s with the appearance of a younger generation of playwrights led by Sergi Belbel. Influenced by contemporary European rather than Spanish or Catalan drama, his work was very different from the realist idiom favoured by playwrights of the Franco generation. But playwriting is only one aspect of Belbel's work as a theatre practitioner. He also has a highly successful career as a director of Spanish, Catalan and foreign plays (a number of which he himself has translated), and, since 2006, he has held the position of Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Catalonia. This study examines these three key aspects of his career, as well as Ventura Pons's film adaptations of his plays. Finally, it considers the reception of his plays in several countries, analysing his evolving relationship with critics at home and abroad. DAVID GEORGE is Professor of Hispanic Studies at Swansea University.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-919-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-8)

    By the end of the 1970s, Spanish theatre faced an uncertain future. The political crossroads that was the end of the Franco dictatorship and the transition to democracy was reflected in the theatre. The censorship with which playwrights had battled under the previous regime was no longer the challenge, and, in any case, the social realism that had beende rigueurin Spanish and Catalan playwriting of the 1960s and early 1970s was now out of fashion in international theatre. Collective creation was in vogue, and the performance art and street theatre that had developed during the 1960s in Europe...

  6. 1 Belbel the Playwright
    (pp. 9-51)

    A striking feature of Belbel’s plays is that they defy easy categorisation, for he has written in a number of different dramatic forms. Some of these belong to what one might term popular theatre or paratheatre, including the student review, the musical, television soap and crime drama. He often parodies these and other forms,¹ while, in his sometimes stylised versions of them, he belongs to an avant-garde tradition whose most obvious exponent in twentieth-century Spain is Ramón del Valle-Inclán, and in Catalonia, Joan Brossa. Neither can his plays be categorised easily as comedies or tragedies, and he frequently moves between...

  7. 2 Performance and Practitioners
    (pp. 52-92)

    Belbel has directed almost forty plays between the late 1980s and the mid-2000s, including many of his own, and works by Catalan, Spanish and European playwrights both contemporary and from previous centuries. He is responsible for the translations of some of the plays, especially by French and Italian authors. In this chapter, having argued for his directing to be labelled author’s theatre, I present an overview of his directing career and the spaces in which he has directed. I explore his team ethos, making extensive use of interviews I have conducted with practitioners who have worked regularly with him.¹ An...

  8. 3 From Stage to Screen: Ventura Pons’s Adaptations of the Plays
    (pp. 93-118)

    Belbel has written for the small screen, in particular the TV soapSecrets de família(Family Secrets), which he co-authored with the novelist Maria Mercè Roca. He has also been tempted to write for the cinema. His first incursion (which remains something of a mystery) ended with his withdrawing from the project during the filming. His second was a collaborative venture with Antonio Chavarrías entitledDictado(Dictation), which had to be put on hold when Belbel became Director of the TNC. His third — and apparently most important — venture into the cinema is entitled Eva , an ambitious science fiction project...

  9. 4 Belbel and the Critics: the Reception of the Plays in Barcelona, Madrid and Beyond
    (pp. 119-158)

    Having analysed thematic and stylistic features of Belbel’s plays in Chapter 1, I now turn to an examination of the reception of a selection of them, both inside and outside Catalonia. Whereas Chapter 1 was concerned mainly with the plays as literary texts, the present one concentrates on how they have been received in live performance. It draws mainly, but not exclusively, on press reviews, and attempts to judge the extent to which such factors as quality of writing and of production, stage space and national or local taste may have influenced the reception.

    In an article written in the...

  10. 5 Belbel and the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya
    (pp. 159-189)

    The development of a culture of national theatres in Europe is complex and varied. Marvin Carlson evokes the established picture of a national theatre, and adds a warning:

    The common image of a National Theatre is of a monumental edifice located in a national capital, authorized, privileged and supported by the government, and devoted wholly or largely to productions of the work of national dramatists. Naturally some National Theatres adhere closely to this ideal model, but the vast majority depart from it in one way or another.²

    Some countries have a building or buildings that bear the name National Theatre,...

    (pp. 190-194)

    In the quarter of a century since Belbel first began his playwriting career much has changed in Catalan theatre. He has formed part of these changes and helped in no small way to shape them. In his early career he was instrumental in restoring the primacy of the text in a Catalonia dominated by internationally renowned performance groups, yet always respecting the work of these groups. His 1980s plays were very different from the realist idiom favoured by the Franco generation of Catalan playwrights and helped forge a new minimalist style of Catalan writing that proved to be hugely influential....

    (pp. 195-202)
    (pp. 203-214)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 215-220)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 221-221)