corrales de comedias



  • (Spanish: play yards) The open courtyards used as public theatersduring the Golden Age of Spanish drama. The first recorded use ofsuch a venue for plays was in 1565 in Madrid. Nine years later ZanGanassa's commedia dell'arte company constructed an innovativecovered stage in a corral. Madrid's two principal theaterswere the Corral de la Cruz founded in 1579 and the Corral del Príncipeopened in 1582. The corrales declined from the middle of the17th century as purpose-built theaters in the Italian fashion replacedthem.

    A theater-goer had to pay to enter the corral and againto be seated. At one end of the yard was a projecting stage with trapdoorsand devices for lowering divine characters; the back wall containeddoors and windows and a curtained inner stage. The theater'spatio, or pit, had benches around the sides, while the aposentos,or boxes, were window seats in houses overlooking the courtyard. Althoughmen and women sat together in the best boxes, the remainder of theaudience was divided by sex, with the uneducated women confined totheir own gallery.

    The companies, usually of from 12 to 14 actors, began theirseasons at Easter. The continuous entertainment included music, dance,the loa, or prologue, and the comedia itself, with interludes(see entremés; sainete) between the acts.