Tuesday, November 24

From the “shock” to Covid-19 in the Contemporary Dramaturgy Notebooks

The complete collection of its volumes accumulates just over 4,000 pages that include 314 articles, 65 monologues, transcripts of debates and round tables, results of surveys, award proceedings and brief memories of the Show itself, with photographs in some issues. The main protagonist is none other than contemporary Spanish theater, and especially its authors.

Names such as those of the playwrights Juan Mayorga, Alfonso Sastre, Rodolf Sirera, Guillermo Heras, Laila Ripoll, Alberto Conejero, José Ramón Fernández, Paloma Pedrero, Itziar Pascual, Pablo Iglesias Simón, Paco Bezerra, Ignacio Amestoy, César Oliva, Nieves Rodríguez, Juan Luis Mira, Gabi Ochoa, Paco Sanguino or Josi Alvarado, among others, have left their signature printed somewhere in the magazine, which today brings together a remarkable repertoire that facilitates the knowledge of reflections and debates followed in Spanish theater since the nineties. Not only do they share the indexes with each other: critics such as Eduardo Pérez Rasilla, Juan Antonio Ríos, Virtudes Serrano, Magda Ruggieri or Neil Diago, and translators such as Fernando Gómez Grande, David Ferré, Susan P. Berardini or John Sanderson have also attended. The list is not exhaustive, but it is representative of its meaning as a professional meeting place.

The first lines of the inaugural issue already stated its starting point and purpose: «A new magazine is born. One more adventure that adds to those already undertaken by those who try to ensure that Spanish theater has adequate coverage in the publishing world. As members of the Drafting Committee were Guillermo Heras, director of the Show from its origin to the present, Fernando Gómez Grande and Juan Antonio Ríos, who continued to appear in the credits until number 17 of 2012, from then on to appear in coordinating a Management Team without specifying their names.

The first issue had and retains a special appeal, increased over the years because it was its start, but also due to the fact that it included texts by Guillermo Heras, the current RAE academic Juan Mayorga or Rodolf Sirera, among others, accompanied of a dossier of articles on Alfonso Sastre, with the collaboration of the author himself and an anthology of his texts after being one of the first three playwrights to be honored in the Show – the others were Buero Vallejo and Francisco Nieva -, and the transcription of the colloquium on translators that Gómez Grande had moderated the previous year.

Special documentary interest has the article by Juan Mayorga Teatro y Shock in which the playwright, who still credited a scarce work but enough to predict its subsequent growing success – he is currently the most internationally represented living Spanish author -, claimed “a theater creator of memory and conscience “that would also constitute” a moral and political decision “in the face of the increasingly global imposition of the” theater of shock “, as he called it, which sought to subject the viewer to the impact of the show and little else , as if it were a “bloodless bombardment, from which his body will come out sweaty, and his soul intact.”

in the Notebooks of Contemporary Dramaturgy

Therefore, the beginning of Cuadernos de Dramaturgia Contemporánea offered a printed place for discussion and constancy, little less than notarial throughout its issues, of the evolution followed by contemporary theater since the last decade of the 20th century. That is why Guillermo Heras positively values ​​the trajectory of the magazine with the perspective of its twenty-five issues. “It has been a journey through these years of different currents, sensitivities and creations – he declares – that have been contributed by all these officiants of dramaturgy and criticism, always putting the spotlight on their most current forms of expression.”

The testimony of this theatrical evolution, with new generations of authors who have broken into Spanish dramaturgy, has allowed us to take the pulse of theatrical thought every year, offering today a commendable overview. Characterized by including not very extensive articles and texts, the fact that many interventions in acts of the Show were later incorporated into its pages has meant a rescue of many oral contributions that, otherwise, would only have remained in transitory memory of his assistants.

Number 25 is an example of the post’s reaction to each context. On this occasion, it was necessary to address other concerns in the face of the unforeseen challenges of the covid-19 crisis. “We have reached number 25 -explains Heras, regarding its edition- with a special survey on the future of dramaturgy after the pandemic and to some extent that is a reflection of the true objective of the Notebooks throughout their history: to make known in first person the opinions, reflections and studies of the protagonists of Spanish dramaturgy, in their different generations, as well as the gaze of critics and scholars to find out their vision on its development ».

The more than four thousand pages of the magazine contribute to leaving a written legacy, therefore, of the permanent debate and positions on contemporary Spanish dramaturgy. Its digitization is undoubtedly the pending task that would provide open access to the collection. The volumes, of uneven thickness, have ranged from the 257 pages of the number 15 in 2010 to the 107 pages of the last number, prepared on this occasion in an atmosphere of uncertainty and with a dedication in memory of Juan Alfonso Gil Albors, Josep Maria Benet and Luis de Castro, who died this year, and in tribute to the victims of covid-19 and the health services. Even the cover of issue 25 will leave testimony of the moment, by reproducing the official image of the 2020 Exhibition with a man and a woman kissing with their masks on. A symbol of the love affair that so many have with the theater.

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