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Reviewed by:
  • Diccionario biográfico de actores del teatro clásico español (DICAT)
  • Margaret R. Greer
Ferrer Valls, Teresa , dir. Diccionario biográfico de actores del teatro clásico español (DICAT). Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2008. DVD and introductory manual, 48 pp.

This biographical dictionary of actors and actresses of Golden Age Spanish theater is, unquestionably, a singularly valuable—indeed invaluable—new resource for all students and scholars of this rich theatrical corpus and the working community that brought it to life. The massive digital database of biographical records published in this DVD, searchable on any computer, and the manual that accompanies it are the fruit of a fifteen-year team effort centered at the Universitat de València, a team that included some ten researchers, directed by Teresa Ferrer Valls, who took on this large challenge in 1993 after the death of its original director, Dr. Amelia García-Valdecasas. As Professor Ferrer explains the history of the project in the manual, this collective enterprise was inspired by Joan Oleza and John Varey and benefitted from the assistance of a number of other collaborators, including established scholars as well as doctoral students.

This team of researchers has collated information on all theater professionals active from 1540 through the end of the seventeenth century and first decades of the eighteenth from 300 printed sources, published from the seventeenth century through the year 2000. (The cutoff for actors included was flexible, to encompass the active life of all those who joined the theatrical community by the time of Calderón's death in 1681.) The records center on the regions of peninsular Spain, but include, as well, data from the forays of those professionals in other parts of Europe and even the American colonies. From those sources, the DVD offers us records in greater or lesser detail on nearly 5,000 actors, actresses, autores de comedias (theater company directors), and musicians. It also includes prompters, ticket-sellers, and wardrobe personnel, since they may have been actors as well at some point in their careers. Professor Ferrer's team has not only collated but also analyzed the information carefully, pointing out and resolving where possible the contradictions between their multiple sources. Resolving those contradictions and other complications in reliable identification of different professionals and the details of their lives and professional engagements has been no easy task. As Professor Ferrer explains in [End Page 137] some detail in the manual, names were recorded in multiple forms and passed down from one generation to another; places and dates of birth and death were often given erroneously, as were changes in company personnel; documenting their precise and evolving functions within the companies presented other difficulties. Therefore, not only to credit (or question) the information provided but also to assist scholars in future research that may clarify remaining ambiguities, each record indicates the source or sources used. Those comedia editors who have previously spent hours, even days, combing sources like the Genealogía, origen y noticias de los comediantes de España, Pérez Pastor's Nuevos datos para la historia del histrionismo, the "List of Spanish Actors and Actresses" that H. A. Rennert appended to his The Spanish Stage in the Time of Lope de Vega, and other records, can now turn with confidence to this one superbly prepared resource.

In addition to data derived from printed sources, the DVD includes some data drawn directly from archival sources, particularly the Archivo Histórico de Protocolos of Madrid. From that archive and others, they include 518 signatures of autores and actors, reproduced as digital images. The DVD also includes information taken from an indexed six-volume collection of photocopies of entries in the AHP contained in the Notas tomadas por D. Alejandro Martín Orega de escrituras del Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, which might help future researchers in tracking down other information of interest in that archive.

Furthermore, in addition to the biographical database, the DVD includes a variety of graphic resources that will enrich teaching the comedia. There are sections devoted to public and court performance spaces, stage machinery, and images of the Corpus Christi performances and processions. Each section...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 137-140
Launched on MUSE
2011-04-27
Open Access
No
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