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    Dominicana On Line - El Portal de la República Dominicana

    Colombino Theater

    The first documented evidences of the theater arrived to the island of Hispaniola from Spain. "Areitos", a music and dance of the native people, however, are the oldest dramatic expressions that took place on the island. Through them, the Taino Indians told of their people's historical milestones and recreated their beliefs, but no records of these demonstrations lasted, as it was a society without a written language.

    According to the conclusions of various historians, the performances of the conquistadors became, not by chance, an instrument for establishing the Iberian culture in the newly discovered land.

    Theatrical productions had, above all, a religious component that the church used in its evangelizing work. On the stage, the Spanish recreated the "lord" of other conquered lands in historical dramas that were presented both in Spanish and the native language.

    The limitations of a Spain in decay did not allow for an impressive development of theater, despite the fact that Santo Domingo was already named the Athens of the New World. Its importance did not merit such a pretentious moniker, which can only be assigned to a community in cultural bloom.

    Still, there is a least one play that is evidence of the theatrical expressions that took place in the country. This work is Entremés de Llerena, the only one of its kind in the 16th century. Cristóbal de Llerena de Rueda wrote it, a priest and Latin professor born in Santo Domingo between 1540 and 1550.

    In the work, various characters are represented by the same actor. A total of seven characters enter the stage to dramatize the socio-political reality of the moment, punctuated by the invasion of the pirate Francis Drake and a sudden economic crisis.

    According to José Molinaza, author of the Historia del Teatro Dominicano, there are no documents that refer to significant theatrical performances, even at the beginning of the 17th century, though Tirso de Molina, a recognized Spanish dramatist, was writing at the time. Shows that cannot be classified as theater were the form of diversion at that time, historians affirm.

    But as time passed, artistic performances became popular in private residences, according to Max Henríquez Ureña. Also, popular acting took place on the grounds of the Catedral de Santo Domingo.

    However, these were low-quality theatrical expressions, in keeping with a population that did not have theaters and lived in cultural poverty. Molinaza states that these dramatizations had "characteristics of medieval theater that entered the great halls by losing its popular character and obeying, to a great extent, the dominant class's tendency to feel identified by status." At that time, Haiti already had an aristocracy that appreciated and developed theater.

    The Haitian presence in the east also brought theatrical manifestations that, however, did not become permanent. Haitian texts refer to the formation of a theatrical group of military men who were a part of Haitian invasion forces.

     













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