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(en) Spaine, CNT #431: Juan Pablo Calero: "Anarchist theater was aesthetically avant-garde while remaining popular" By Julián Vadillo Muñoz (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 10 Sep 2022 10:29:16 +0300

We interviewed Juan Pablo Calero Delso, historian and Doctor of History, who recently published the book Anthology of Anarchist Theater (1882-1931). A fundamental study to understand the importance of dramaturgy in the media and the spread of anarchist ideas in Spain. ---- Question: Why a book about anarchist theater? ---- Answer: I started to do some research by chance, but I soon realized that it was an interesting topic; on the one hand, because it helped to break the myth of illiterate, insurrectional and millenarian anarchism that continues to be transmitted to us and, on the other hand, because it helped to understand the extraordinary development of anarchism in Spain. It must also be said that there are excellent works on theater and anarchism in France, Italy, Argentina and other countries, but very little had been published here.

Q: What did anarchists contribute to libertarian thought through theater?
A: The spread of the idea; a role similar to that played by music in the spread of anarchism in recent decades, from singer-songwriters to punk. Workers without training, without resources and without free time for whom it could be difficult to understand the anarchist ideology approached anarchism through it, and those workers who already had training and a libertarian identity were reinforced when they saw their wishes come true. on a stage. It is impossible today to get an idea of the importance that theater had in the society of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th and how the anarchists encouraged, outside the commercial theaters, their own circuit of authors and amateur groups that spread throughout the country with surprising success. There is an author totally unknown today, José Fola Igurbide, who premiered a play every year and his pieces continued to be performed even in libertarian exile in Toulouse.

Q: What is the difference between anarchist theater and social theater?
A: Anarchist theater is part of social theater which, in turn, is part of political theater. In the book there are references to a social theater placed at the service of the bosses as early as 1863 and to a social theater with a Catholic, republican or socialist orientation. Beyond the different ideological approaches, I would highlight the anarchist theater's willingness not to integrate into commercial theater, contrary to some socialists who complained that they were discriminated against in that area due to their militancy, and the importance given to the character collective that the theater has, that community formed by actors and spectators that made possible the libertarian utopia by the simple will of the author. Élisée Reclus expressed it very well: "With deep sympathy, with throbbing anxiety, they all looked at the anarchist reality, so different, at least in dreams, from the infected shifts or the tyrannical den in which the life of this society is consumed; all raised their ideal to a decent and honest society, and the higher and more dignified the words they heard, the better they seemed to understand them. For a few hours, the bourgeoisie, the fed up, the timid, cast away their old concerns and their outmoded morals; they put off the old man.

Q: Of all the anarchist theater plays you have worked on, which one has impressed you the most and why?
A: Well, to make this book I read and worked with around a hundred works, of which I was only able to include nine in the Anthology. I would like to remember that anarchist militants wrote plays such as Teresa Claramunt, Federico Urales, Loiuse Michel, Errico Malatesta, Pietro Gori, Charles Malato, Ricardo Flores Magón or Mauro Bajatierra and that writers such as Octave Mirbeau or Eduardo Marquina had works of anarchist inspiration. But my favorites are those written by a group of literary men on horseback from Spain and America already in the 20th century: Carlos Germán Amézaga, Florencio Sánchez, Valentín de Pedro or Rodolfo González Pacheco. With them, anarchist theater was aesthetically avant-garde without ceasing to be popular, something not always easy with the quality with which they did it.

Anarchist theater anthology (1882-1931)

Author: J.P. lime
Publisher: La Malatesta
Edition year: 2022
Pages: 550 pages.
Format: Paperback 21×15 cm
Price: €15

Q: Was culture the true engine of expansion of anarchism?
A: The motor of the expansion of anarchism in Spain, and its difference with other countries, was the sociability of its militants. They fled from all sectarianism in their daily relations, they were as pragmatic in their strategies as they were intransigent in their principles, and they were so fully convinced of the viability of the libertarian society that they tried to put it into practice. The anarchists in Spain managed their education with secular schools and libertarian athenaeums, their health with the spread of hygienism and naturism, their economy with cooperatives and stores, their leisure with theater groups, choirs or excursionist societies... Wherever you lived and whoever they were your concerns, there was a space of anarchist sociability where to develop them; the libertarian alternative was tried to live daily, with the union as the backbone, but surpassing the simple labor demand. And culture, in its broadest sense, was the protagonist.

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