Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

At a sword's length: Theatrical dueling in early modern Spanish drama
by Long, Hugh K., Ph.D., Tufts University, 2010, 193; 3403440
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the depiction of the sword and stage violence in early modern Spanish drama. Rather than accepting simple stage directions of riñen, or “they fight,” I suggest that fight choreographers, directors and actors would benefit from studying the early modern Spanish fencing techniques of La Destreza. The interpretation of physical action is often glossed over by practitioners more concerned with vocalizing their dialogue than presenting movement indicative of the period. The consideration typically given to physicality is often reserved for dance, ignoring the potential in the dance-like maneuvers of simulated violence. Ultimately my hope is to increase the awareness of theatrical violence and the textual analysis required to extrapolate the playwright's intentions.

In presenting swords, duels, and challenges on stage, the early modern Spanish playwrights, led by Lope de Vega and later Pedro Calderón de la Barca, brought to the corrales of Madrid a discussion of class and the concept of honor. Their popular plots centered on affairs of the heart, adultery, and questions of social standing. These themes invariably offered violence, through swordfights, as a means to address and rectify these issues. Without properly researching or understanding the distinctly Spanish school of fencing, La Destreza, and the early modern Spanish concept of honor, any revival or reading of these early plays is incomplete. By presenting historically accurate martial techniques of the period, a better understanding of early modern Spanish theatre performance practices will emerge.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Senelick, Laurence, Howe, Elizabeth Teresa
Commitee: Erdman, Harley, Grossman, Barbara W.
School: Tufts University
Department: Drama
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theater, Theater History
Keywords: Calderon, Pedro, Destreza, Fencing, Stage combat, de Vega, Lope
Publication Number: 3403440
ISBN: 978-1-109-76969-2
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