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Trujillo vs. Theater
A decree by Rafael Leonidas Trujillo gave life to the National Theater of Fine Arts, an emblematic structure that is evidence of the relevance given to theater. The event invites to think of that time, as the era of the splendor of the theater. However, that is not the case. The accounts speak of regression. Because what the regime really achieved through the dramatic representations that it allowed to spread, more or less with frequency, were pieces that, although not folded directly to its political interests, silenced others that criticized it.
The Theater School of National Art and the School of Performing Arts, also ordered by Trujillo, were under the direction of Emilio Aparicio, who arrived in the country with a wave of Spanish refugees, and who restricted performances to productions of European and North American origin. Dominican dramatists also had their space on stage; however, they were highly regulated by the regime. Among them we find Bienvenido Gimbernard, Pedro René Contín Aybar, Marine Manuel Miniño and Delia Marrero de Munné.
Molinaza makes a new inventory of the publications and writings with a result that reveals the aggression suffered by the Dominican theater: 54 representations in thirty one years; an average of barely1.7 per year.
But either to guarantee the circus or to please the oligarchy in need of the entertainment that performing arts provide, the few representations were characterized by great quality. Authors like Miguel de Cervantes, Jacinto Benavente, Arthur Miller, Jose Calvo Sotelo, Miguel Mihura, Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre appeared on the highest stage of the Palace of Fine Arts.
A remarkable piece of information of the era is the birth of the Cuadro Experimental de Comedias Maria Martinez, an experimental group of comedy devised by a group of young people from the Theater School of National Art, with the idea of rescuing the local theater.
Well-known names such as Maxim Aviles Blonde, Franklin Dominguez Fernandez, Luis Jose German and Jose Samaria composed the list of members of the group that from its creation – when it named itself after the name of dictator’s wife-- tried to find a niche in such difficult environment.
From the Theater School came the Club of Actors, with its first director, Santiago Lamela Leger, who later allowed the celebration of the First Convention Pro Formation of Experimental Theater in the Dominican Republic. The artistic interest was evident, as much as --according to the critics-- the official use of it in the media.
During Trujillo’s era and immediately after the regime, radio drama reaches its best moment which begins with the broadcasting of dramatized readings by the Cuadro Experimental de Comedias Maria Martinez.
The radio station ‘LaVoz Dominicana’, later ‘Radio Television Dominicana’, became the stage where actors like Felipa and Macario developed into national celebrities.