La teatralidad de las obras dramáticas de Juan del Encina. Texto espectacular y puesta en escena

  1. Sánchez Hernández, Sara
Supervised by:
  1. Javier Francisco San José Lera Director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Fecha de defensa: 16 July 2020

  1. Emilio de Miguel Martínez Chair
  2. Miguel M. García-Bermejo Giner Secretary
  3. María Bastianes Committee member

Type: Thesis


This doctoral thesis, entitled La teatralidad de las obras dramáticas de Juan del Encina. Texto espectacular y puesta en escena (The Theatricality of Juan del Encina’s Plays. Performance Text and Staging), aims to highlight the theatrical wealth of the father of the Castilian theatre, Juan del Encina, whose 550th birthday was celebrated in 2019. This research arises from the desire to reconstruct the implicit theatricality in his plays. This purpose is based on the search for and the explanation of those elements preserved, generally implicitly in the characters’ dialogues, and on the consideration of these plays in their performative context. The intention is to show, thus, the theatricality of Juan del Encina’s fourteen plays, preserved in various editions of his Cancionero (1496, 1507, and 1509) and in several chapbooks. To show the scenic practice of the playwright, an eclectic methodology based on an interdisciplinary work is used, combining historical-literary, philological, and semiotic approaches with the consideration of iconography and iconology, music and song, and art. The aim is to recover and enhance the theatrical heritage of the 16th century in the context of Salamanca’s and Europe’s Renaissance, with the specific case of Encina. The choice of Juan del Encina’s theatre as the object of study responds to the observation that his plays have often been described as primitive, lacking in resources, and theatrical techniques. Although the consideration of Encina as the «patriarch» of the Castilian theatre gives importance to this figure from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, this statement is followed by other appreciations that detract from its value by considering it «primitive», or in relation to later theatre, such as «pre-baroque». Although efforts have been made to restore the first Renaissance theatre to its theatricality, these, however, are insufficient, since the general line of theatrical research is literary analysis, and symbolic features, omitting a detailed study of the theatrical texts considering them in their communicative complex, in the light of the theoretical reflections of semiotics. In this critical panorama, we believe, it was needed a study that analyzed Juan del Encina’s plays as a whole, focusing its attention on its theatricality. For this reason, we have continued the work initiated by various researchers from other areas of Renaissance theatre and have tried to apply approaches and results with the complete theatre of Juan del Encina. In this doctoral investigation, therefore, an attempt is made to highlight the figure of Juan del Encina, appealing to the uniqueness of his theatre, as well as the assumption of various theatrical forms, both medieval and contemporary in Europe. It is intended to reread his theatre from its implicit and explicit theatricality, with the study of the traces of the dramaturgical elements that could have intervened in its performances and with the reconstruction of its environment and the circumstances of staging. He will be considered, in this way, as an essential piece for the development of later Castilian theatre. I have organized this research around five central chapters, flanked at the beginning and at the end, by the introductory section and by the conclusions. The § CHAPTER I, «Juan del Encina o de Fermoselle and the Literary Crossroads of Previous Traditions», opens the present study on the theatricality of the author’s plays. Divided into seven sections, it attempts to biographize the playwright, by exhuming some unpublished documents, trying to illustrate his various professional facets (musician, poet, singer, playwright, actor, and priest) he will acquire over the years, shaping his complex personality, which will influence the configuration of his theatre. It is also sought to elucidate his birthplace, as well as to follow his steps through Malaga, Jerusalem, and Seville until the end of his days in León as prior. In addition, an overview of the theatrical and non-theatrical manifestations of the medieval literature of the Iberian Peninsula is shown. For that reason, we will mention literary traditions existing before Encina began to compose his plays, as well as the influences he receives at the same time. This review covers the liturgical, court, and university tradition; we will focus on those testimonies that allow us to recognize a theatricality and that will especially influence Encina’s theatre. In the next § CHAPTER II, «The Transmission of Juan del Encina’s Plays», the author’s theatrical production, collected in print, is made through different editions of his Cancionero and chapbooks. Under the label «Representations», the songbooks of 1496, 1507, and 1509 will compile new plays that will also experience an important diffusion through chapbooks. The less relevant songbooks for the preservation of Encina’s theatre (since they do not provide novelties) will also be studied: the editions of 1501, 1505, 1512, and 1516 and the supposed Cancionero after 1519. Likewise, we will analyze at the chapbooks that collect Encina’s plays: the Égloga de Carnal and de Antruejo, the Representación sobre el poder del Amor, the Égloga de Fileno, Zambardo y Cardonio, Cristino y Febea and Égloga de Plácida y Vitoriano. The study of all these testimonies and preserved versions of his theatre is vital to contrast the presence or absence of scenic indications in each print to try to deduce the impact of how the printed fixation of the Renaissance theatrical text, as well as the change of the plays’ audience. The aim is, also, to study the problems of transmission of the theatre in editorial format, that is, the way in which the mise en page of the theatrical text is configured, in the absence of a special format for this type of product, attending to the engravings, punctuation, blank spaces, and the explicit didascalias it contains, among others. The § CHAPTER III, entitled «Theory for a Dramaturgical Analysis of the Theatrical Text», is the last of the theoretical sections that, on this occasion, focuses on the methodology used in this doctoral thesis. Thus, we enumerate the methodological studies used to analyse the theatricality of Juan del Encina’s plays, such as semiotics and semiology, theatrical spaces in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, studies on iconography and iconology, as well as research on music and singing from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and the influence of the arts. In this way, we create an eclectic and interdisciplinary methodology that will be the basis on which the theatricality of the Encina’s plays is analysed. After this section, the central epigraph of the thesis opens, § CHAPTER IV, which is entitled «Analysis of the Theatricality of Encina’s plays». In it, we examine the fourteen plays, following, firstly, a chronological order of the Cancioneros, and secondly, the plays printed in chapbooks. For this reason, this chapter has four large sections dedicated to the Cancionero of 1496, to that of 1507, to the edition of 1509 and, finally, to the chapbooks. In the first one, we analyse the eight plays preserved in the princeps: the two for Christmas, the two for Passion, two for carnival and two for love. The epigraph dedicated to the Cancionero of 1507 analyses the two eclogues printed for the first time: the Égloga trobada por Juan del Enzina, representada la noche de Navidad and the Representación ante el muy esclarescido y muy illustre Príncipe don Juan. The third section, the Cancionero of 1509, includes two other new pieces: the Auto del repelón and the Égloga trobada por Juan del enzina, en la qual se introduzen tres pastores. A last section studies the theatricality of two other plays preserved only through chapbooks: the Égloga de tres pastores and the Égloga de Plácida y Vitoriano. Before reaching the final section of «Conclusions», I close my doctoral research with a chapter that, as an epilogue, reviews the modern representations of Encina’s plays. This § CHAPTER V reviews, following a chronological criterion, the shows about the playwright’s plays that theatrical companies (El Ateneo, El Teatro del Pueblo, the company of Margarita Xirgu, La Barraca, the Teatro Medieval de Barcelona, Ensayo 100, the Company Manuel Canseco, the Laboratorio Escénico Univalle, the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico, Nao d’amores, and Camerata Iberia) have mounted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. This is an arrival chapter, which intends to illustrate that the theatricality of Juan del Encina’s plays has been recognized by a large number (although not enough) of theater companies, both professional and university. Thus, throughout these five chapters, this doctoral research aims to offer a more complete reading of the theatrical nature of Juan del Encina’s plays. Furthermore, within the framework of celebrating the 800 years of the University of Salamanca, this doctoral thesis aims to contribute to the history of this University, with the research of one of its famous figures, Juan del Encina.