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Drama in the 18th century

During the 18th century, monarchy was behind the strong cultural and political repression that enormously discredited Catalan language. Banned in both public and official theatre houses, a deep crisis in Catalan performing arts unfolded.

On the other hand, French aristocracy drama, written for educated audiences, prospered. This drama followed classicist theories, according to which art must educate and plays must be objective, limiting the author’s creativity. Theatre adjusted to three units—time, space and action—a fact that limited freedom, spontaneity and originality from plays.

Theatre in Catalan was relegated to hired spaces and private houses. Under this situation, chamber theatre developed. Performed in bourgeois palaces at the end of the century, it developed into high quality drama. During this period, many non-professional theatre groups were founded in popular arts and science associations.

Another kind of drama that was also present in this period was religious drama. Despite its medieval roots, this type of drama recovered some characteristics from the baroque and neoclassical drama theories, reducing considerably the supernatural elements. An example of this type of drama is Passions arranged by fra Antoni de Sant Jeroni, published in 1773.

Nevertheless, among all theatre productions in the 18th century, burlesque entremesos and satirical sketches had the most dramatic fluency. The origins of entremesos are found in farces. They were short comical pieces with universal characters. These plays were performed at the beginning, the interval and end of big performances in Castilian. Burlesque entremesos in Catalan flourished during the 18th and 19th century. This comical genre has medieval roots and is related to European farces. From the beginning, it was passed on orally but from the 1700s onwards it began being recorded in written form. Sainets were satirical sketches with the same tone and characters but plays were longer and autonomous.