Journal of Catalan Studies/Revista Internacional de Catalanisme

[Ressenyes / Reviews]

Del actor medieval a nuestros das: Actas del IV Seminario de teatro y msica medievales de Elx

SIRERA, Josep Llus, ed., 2001. Del actor medieval a nuestros das: Actas del IV Seminario de teatro y msica medievales de Elx (Elx: Institut Municipal de Cultura).
Jan Gilbert
Clare Hall
University of Cambridge

Del actor medieval a nuestros das is a collection of eleven papers presented at the fourth colloquium of medieval theatre and music held in Elx from 30 October to 2 November 1996. The colloquium en bloc endeavours to emphasise the fundamental, though elusive, role played by the medieval actor in the theatrical experience: the mtier itself as well as the actor's place in the political, cultural and social context of the period are explored. While the comparative paucity of scripts may appear prima facie to render any such project somewhat ambitious - an 'empresa utpica', as Federico Doglio refers to it in his article on reactions to the medieval actor and his art (51) -, there are, nevertheless, a good deal of other sources that can be used as evidence, as this compilation demonstrates. Indeed this volume impresses with its breadth of papers, frequently marked by a commonality of approach and methodology, and their linguistic inclusivity.

Evangelina Rodrguez's fascinating study of the rehabilitacin del gesto opened the colloquium in an authoritative fashion. Pep Vila's paper, while offering an informative insight into his own research on medieval Catalan performance, highlights neglected areas in medieval drama and points to little-known texts that shed light on actors in the Middle Ages. The experience of Jordi Roca Rovira and Francesc Massip as researchers and directors proves invaluable in their respective studies of the enactment of the Dansa de la Mort in Verges, and the principal elements of medieval performance and their vestiges in the Misteri or Festa d'Elx and how the actor's role in society (whether histri, frare or burgs) affected the nature of his performance. The rich subject of the Misteri is raised in Rafael Maestre's review of visual aspects in medieval performance and in Joan Castao Garca's paper which details the changing role of the actor throughout the Misteri's history. The continuity of theatrical practices from medieval to modern times is highlighted by Gabriel Sansano, while Alfredo Hermenegildo's paper on juglares, actores and bufones complements his previous work on the various paths open to late medieval and early modern actors. Josep Llus Sirera's study discusses the relationship between actor and autor in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and Paola Ventrone gives an account of this issue in an Italian context.

Sirera's statement that 'hablar de teatro y no ver teatro, sirve [...] para muy poco' (12) is entirely understandable in the context of a colloquium whose integration in a medieval theatre and music festival is fundamental to its essence. Nevertheless, although readers of this volume will inevitably study it outside that original context, the collection still proves an extremely rich one, not only managing to inform the perennial debate on the position of the medieval actor but also undoubtedly inspiring future research in this sphere.