Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Reviews of Books

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (5), 601–609.


Reviews of Books • ÁNGEL MARÍA GARCÍA GÓMEZ, Vida teatral en Córdoba (1602–1694): autores de comedias representantes y arrendadores. Estudio y documentos. Fuentes para la historia del teatro en España, 37. Woodbridge: ­Tamesis. 2008. xiv + 588 pp. ISBN: 978-185566-171-4. This work is the third and final volume of a trilogy by Ángel María García Gómez included in the Fuentes para la historia del teatro en España. The first book in the series, Casa de las Comedias de Córdoba: 1602–1694 (Fuentes XV) was published in 1990, and the second, Actividad Teatral en Córdoba y Arrendamientos de la Casa de las Comedias: 1602–1737 (Fuentes XXXIV) in 1999. In this volume, García Gómez transcribes over four hundred documents taken from the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Córdoba, relating to the contracts and communications between theatre company managers, actors and arrendadores (landlords of the corrales) in Cordoba between 1602 and 1694. These documents, which constitute 350 pages of the book, are prefaced with a lengthy introduction (some 181 pages) that presents them and draws some conclusions about the business of the comedia in seventeenth-century Spain. García Gómez’s introduction includes sections on the contracts drawn up for performances in Cordoba and in other locations throughout Andalusia. These all follow a broadly similar scheme: each section, whether examining contracts for the employment of actors or the hire of mules for transportation, is divided into chronological periods spanning the seventeenth century. These time periods are divided into further subsections covering the different aspects of contractual arrangements. Thus an overview is provided of how the practices and norms of business and contractual matters connected with the theatre developed over time. Although such a structure leads to BHS 885 (2011) doi:10.3828/bhs.2011.30 some repetition, this is alleviated by the use of anecdotal examples detailing, for example, incidences when either party departed from customary contractual arrangements. The departures can be telling, and the overall effect provides a good understanding of basic business practices and a grasp of a wide variety of concerns which could be peculiar to a particular theatre company or arrendador. In the first section of the introduction we are given a detailed account of the various arrangements which bringing an acting troupe to Cordoba for a season of performances entailed. The accompanying contractual documents between the arrendadores and the autores de comedias are extremely interesting because they express the demands and expectations of each of these parties of the other. This affords insight not only into the theatrical world from a business perspective but also, as García Gómez intimates, into the mentality of each of these parties, including at times ‘sus deseos, aspiraciones y temores’ (2). There is much to learn on a human level from these ostensibly pragmatic documents. In addition, they address matters ranging from the penalties imposed for failure to fulfil contractual arrangements, to the living expenses of the actors, to the changing level of authority of the autores over time. With regard to the comedias themselves, it is noted that often the only contractual stipulation concerning the plays to be performed was that a certain number of new plays should be included in a given season. Included in the information drawn from the documents and presented in separate sections of the introduction are: requirements for the transportation of actors and costumes from one place to another; the recruitment of actors and the formation of theatre companies; records of the purchases and sales of various theatre companies; the interdependent loan/debt network between

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