Dominicana On Line - El Portal de la República Dominicana
The theater in Dominican Republic
From the first years of the Conquistadors, religious authorities used the theater as a means to promote the evangelization of the aboriginal population. It was at this time that “El entremés” by Cristóbal de Llerena, dating from the second half of the sixteenth century was written, which is recognized as the first drama of the old colony of La Española.
The poverty of the Colonial Period was a decisive factor in maintaining dramatization and theatrical representation at modest levels. Individual homes were used as the stages for the main artistic displays at the time.
The educational capability of the theater was once again in demand in the years before the foundation of the Republic, when young independence supporters, trying to gather support for the independence cause, staged theater plays such as “Roma Libre” and “La Viuda de Padilla”.
During the first years of the Dominican Republic, the link between theater and politics continued, with authors such as Javier Angulo Guridi, Manuel de Jesús Rodríguez Montaño and Félix María del Monte.
Between 1861 and 1916, the period known as the Second Republic, at least 75 plays were written, of which only 18 were published. These theatrical productions were marked by the themes of indigenous culture, romanticism and regionalism.
During the period of American Occupation, protest works were staged against the foreign presence in the country. The play Los yanquis en Santo Domingo, by Rafael Damirón, is the most well known.
The Trujillo dictatorship institutionalized theatrical activity into cultural work that was to be promoted by the State through the founding of the National Theater Arts School, The School of Stage Art, and by building the National Theater of Fine Arts. The Spanish influence was still present with the Spanish refugee Emilio Aparicio as director of these schools. Acting reached new heights of professionalism.
Despite productions of North American and European plays, and the emergence of eminent national figures –Máximo Avilés Blonda, Franklin Domínguez, Luis José Germán, Santiago Lamela Leger, etc.– official obstacles and difficulties weighed heavily on Dominican theater.
The years after the emergence of democracy bought new theatrical horizons. Independent, experimental and protest groups as well as street theater groups have increased in number during this period. It is worth mentioning the work of the Gayumba Theater (Manuel Chapuseaux and Nives Santana), Iván García, María Castillo, Carlota Carretero, Reynaldo Disla, Ángel Haché, Fausto Grullón, Carlos Castro, Dionis Rufino, Germana Quintana, among many others whose work dignifies Dominican’s stages.