spanish theoretical writings on acting
in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries*
The First Studies. Italian and French Influence
The subject of this investigation is theoretical
writings on acting in
observations on acting in
Closely associated with truth to life, naturalness too was increasingly
invoked as a necessary prerequisite for the theatre and acting, and it began to
be considered as the basic
component of representation. It is worth recalling that, for the first
campaigners for theatrical reform, naturalness was bound up with the aim of
ridding the stage of the Baroque legacy and thus – paradoxically – with the
move to introduce the principles of neoclassicism. This trend too had
repercussions on acting. While during the 17th century the actor could be no
more than a figurative element in the overall spectacle, valued only for his
use of the vocal register (in fact theatre goers went to oír, or listen to, a play), in the following century acting began
to receive greater consideration as a means of expression also from the visual
viewpoint. Once the curtain had finally come down on the lengthy season of
Baroque illusionism, with its aesthetic of the marvellous and the spectacular
virtuosity of scene changes, the staging came to be perceived as a framework,
while the essential core of the drama lay in the text, with the actor as the
prime means of communication of the poetic content, through declamation but
also gesture. For example, Ignacio de Luzán, who held a number of public
offices, insisted on the absolute necessity for theatrical illusion. As an
advocate of neoclassicism, Luzán campaigned for the introduction of Aristotle’s
three unities to the Spanish stage in his Poética
ó reglas de la poesia (1737). He returned from a period spent in
Ignacio de Luzán clearly took the trouble to keep up
with the latest cultural developments,
and was au fait with theoretical output concerning the actor’s
craft, in particular Rémond de Sainte-Albine’s Le Comédien, which had appeared a few years previously. He states that
he read it carefully but failed to find ‘either the desired method or clarity’, and preferred the
treatise on the art of theatre written by François Riccoboni, some pages of
which he reproduced. Ignacio de Luzán in fact paved the way for translations
and dissemination of European theoretical
treatments of the actor in
The new aesthetic culture of the
Enlightenment required a new acting style, both in tragedy and in comedy: less
affected and bombastic for the former, less vulgar and clownish for the latter.
In the final decades of the century the traditional theatrical
conventions began to be seen as antiquated and inadequate with respect to
the new demands for truth to life. One of the contradictions of theatrical
illusion on the Spanish stage was in fact the behaviour of the actors. In 1784 an
anonymous article appeared entitled ‘Reflexiones sobre el Estado de
Furthermore the author
deplored the absence of proper acting schools, such as existed in
One other crucial question
is brought up in the ‘Reflexiones’
and became of increasing importance
throughout the nineteenth century: whether acting should be characterised by
emotional involvement or, on the contrary, be based on self-control. In reality
there was nothing new in these early Spanish reflections on the topic. The
problem had reared its head in
The author of ‘Reflexiones’ maintains that the fundamental premise underlying acting is ‘the
understanding of the text and the exact imitation of what its contains’. This almost
suggests making a distinction between the actor’s conception of his role, which
is assigned to rationality and intelligence, and the moment of performance,
based on the exterior imitation of the gestures and attitudes which correspond
to the nature of the character. Nonetheless the objective, as he himself
specifies, remains to arouse emotions in the spectators, and ideally this is
best achieved when the actors identify themselves totally in their part. In
fact this vision of the craft of acting, with its reference to Quintilian’s
account of seeing an actor coming out of the theatre shedding real tears after
performing in a tragedy, dominated commentaries in
The final years of the eighteenth century also marked
a crucial turning point in terms of how actors behaved on stage. The movement
to bring the theatre into line with the principles of neoclassicism, which up
until then had made little headway, became increasingly active, drawing on a
broader, firsthand knowledge of the French system. Increasingly attention began
to be paid in
In terms of acting, the pursuit of naturalness takes on a more precise stylistic sense in the Spanish treatises produced in the first half of the nineteenth century. The mainly implicit starting point was the excess of rhetoric and bombast that characterised tragedy. Naturalness, as the actor Carlos Latorre pointed out in a brief commentary on acting published in 1839, Noticias sobre el arte de la declamación, does not preclude a certain amount of embellishment and elevation of reality. But above all, rather than being seen as a quality inherent in an actor’s behaviour, it must be part and parcel of the character.
Latorre was renowned above all for his roles as a
tragic hero, and he is a perfect embodiment of the intrinsic contradictions in
the romantic actor, caught between neoclassical idealization and pursuit of the
realistic detail. He created the eponymous hero in José Zorrilla’s Don Juan, and made a name for himself
playing violent, tortured characters. Nonetheless in his brief treatise, which
went into at least two reprints, the latter in 1883, we see him pursuing a
middle way between the opposing poles, advocating a stylistic equilibrium which
corresponds to the attempt to mediate between self-identification and
detachment. One can see a predominant influence of French
theatre, which he had come to know during several stays in
Julián Romea was a pupil of Latorre and belonged to
the next generation, dealing with a different repertoire in which bourgeois
dramaturgy had a much greater part to play. His Manual de declamación met with considerable success, at least to
judge by the various editions it went through. The first, dated 1859, was produced for
the students of the Real Conservatorio in
There seems to have been a close link between the
emergence of theoretical writings intended for actors and the setting up of
specific schools. The need for a reform of theatres overseen by public
bodies had become particularly pressing, and from the end of the eighteenth century
various projects for acting schools were put forward, based on the French
model. The first school we know of was founded in
But on the whole the much vaunted reforms failed, and the attempts to create a repertoire of canonical plays respecting the principles of neoclassicism also came to nothing, not least because the common theatre goers were not at all enamoured of the results. One striking example of such an attempt was the ban imposed in 1788 on performances of plays “of magic”, which were so popular that they had to be reinstated in 1801. At the same time the resistance to the introduction of a neoclassical repertoire and style was due in part to the widespread nationalist sentiment, which rebelled against the idea of a “theatre afrancesado”, and deprived of its traditional identity. It was in fact the incommensurable gap between the demands of the public and the idealistic rigour of the literati, who wished to ban spectacle and entertainment from the stage, which was the main cause of the failure of all attempts at reform.
In the second half of the eighteenth century various projects were put forward, some of which also dealt with the question of acting, albeit in a casual rather than a systematic manner. Between 1767 and 1807 some thirty projects are known to have appeared in print. In a note he appended to his translation of the treatise by Luigi Riccoboni, Nifo called on the government to intervene, and repeated this request with greater insistence in a project for reform which did not see the light of day entitled Idea política y cristiana para reformar el actual teatro de España, as well as in other articles on the subject which appeared in the weekly Diario estrangero. The first part of this reform project featured the training of actors and details concerning the material resources for theatres, including stage sets and costumes. Ensuing projects in the last three decades of the century had in common an insistence on the necessity of educating actors in a wide array of disciplines ranging from history to geography and dancing to fencing – and we find these same subjects listed in the treatises on acting written for students in drama schools.
In addition to a “director of theatres”, Díez González’s project provided for a “master of declamation”, introducing a function which reflected the new importance attached to actors’ education and giving instruction in acting. Without going into their duties, it also provided for masters of music and dancing. It is significant that it did not prove easy to appoint a “master of declamation”: the first time the post was advertised, no suitable candidate was forthcoming.
Following the approval of the project drawn up by
Mariano Luis de Urquijo, who had previously produced a Discurso sobre el estado actual de nuestros teatros y necesidad de su
reforma, and the creation of the
Giunta in 1799, Moratín resigned from his position. The role attributed to him cannot have
corresponded to what he had in mind when he put himself forward as “absolute
director” of theatres, and it is likely that he found himself with all too
little scope, if not actually powerless, in the company of the authoritarian
president Gregorio de
The Giunta was responsible
for directing and administering the
In general, in addition to the problem of unruly
audiences, which encouraged irresponsibility on stage, commentaries on the
theatre insisted that actors should have a more elegant and decorous behaviour
and seek to nurture the spectators’ level of culture rather than simply
entertaining. Thus educating actors came to be seen as an integral part of
theatrical reform, and received increasing importance in the projects produced
in the 1790s. The execrable social and moral standing of actors, common to
several European countries, was closely linked to the activity’s organization
as a craft and particularly evident in
Thus the training of actors was closely bound up with their professional upgrading, and a parallel was often drawn between acting and the art of oratory. Besides, the very notion of acting had a large compass, including the art of delivery and all forms of declamation of a literary text, whether for entertainment or for other motives. Even a simple public reading could thus become the object of an aesthetic codification which ideally combined various figures and professional specialisations, since acting had not yet acquired its own specific standing. The first treatises in particular were aimed at a broader based public which included aspiring orators, amateur actors and anyone interested in acquiring a certain skill in public speaking. Thus declamation and eloquence were incorporated into a model course of education for young people of a certain standing, while being seen as indispensable accomplishments for future lawyers just as much as for professional actors.
The association between actor and orator recurs in
several Spanish treatises which however, with just a few exceptions, do not
address a very wide range of professional figures, but are restricted to stage
artistes. Unlike the situation in other European
countries, in fact, the first Spanish commentaries on acting were specifically
aimed at actors, and it was only when the genre became fully established that
its scope was significantly broadened. One reason may well lie in the fact that
treatises on acting began to be published in Spain with a specifically didactic
purpose, associated with the setting up of schools designed to train actors. In
other countries, such as
If acting was often associated with the tradition of oratory, the inverse was also quite common, a clear sign of the powers of attraction and assimilation which the stage had acquired. And whereas in the treatises dating from the beginning of the nineteenth century references to the prestigious art of oratory were designed to confer greater dignity on the theatre, the extension of acting theory to other contexts revealed a clear awareness of the importance of theatricality in the sphere of relationships. In other words, the expressive codes pertaining to the art of acting were often reused in other, related contexts.
Instruction in both acting and other forms of declamation had a common theoretical grounding in the study of the expressive forms of the passions, tending to a definition of a gestural and vocal code based on observation and codified in a series of descriptions of gestures or illustrative plates. The passions were the essential paradigm at the heart of theoretical reflection in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, concerning not only the interpretation of character but also the possibility of manifesting an interior state with the emotional involvement of onlookers. Since the expression of every passion consists in a natural process, the idea took hold that it can be the object of a precise recognition, based primarily on the physiology of the emotions and to a lesser extent on cultural factors, which determine some of its specific characteristics. In general it was the former aspect which received the most attention.
One example is l’Ensayo sobre el origen y naturaleza de las pasiones, del gesto y de la acción teatral (1800) by Fermín Eduardo Zeglirscosac. This is the first genuine Spanish treatise on acting, and one of very few featuring illustrations. The text is a bizarre collation of two existing works: Conférence sur l’expression générale et particulière (1668) by Charles Le Brun, which is also the source for the illustrations (in some cases the costumes or poses have been modified) and Ideen zu einer Mimik by Johann Jacob Engel, which as we have seen had been partially published in a series of articles.
The first part of the Ensayo, which is in practice a faithful translation of Le Brun’s Conférence, is based on some principles of physiology of the emotions which the French painter had evolved drawing on Descartes’s treatise on the passions. The second part consists in lengthy extracts from Engel’s Ideen, with observations and descriptions of gestures and poses typical of the principal states of mind. The Ensayo, which represents a surprisingly coherent combination of the two sources, is based on the idea that the expression of the passions can be the subject of scientific enquiry, providing a normative classification for use in a teaching situation. This principle was to be taken over more or less explicitly by most subsequent theoreticians. Even the commentators who paid most attention to the origins of the dramatic art, such as Andrés Prieto, devoted a good deal of space to the expression of the affects, dividing up the various passions into categories and dwelling on descriptions of their visible effects.
But who was Fermín Eduardo Zeglirscosac? It has been suggested that this bizarre name was a pseudonym for the famous playwright Leandro Fernández de Moratín. However, it is more probable that it is the anagram for a friend and collaborator of his, Francisco Rodríguez Ledesma, a lawyer, printer, translator and passionate disciple of the Enlightenment, who was appointed secretary to the Giunta for the direction of theatres – which had Moratín as one of its members and was presided over by Santos Díez González. Moreover the attribution of the treatise to Rodríguez Ledesma is perfectly compatible with the choice of Francisco de Paula Martí to prepare the accompanying illustrations, since this artist was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of “master of declamation”. In all likelihood ‘Martí was the favourite candidate of some members of the Giunta and failed to secure the post on account of internal disagreements’, but the fact that he took part in the production of an acting manual precisely when efforts were being made to set up a school for actors is surely significant.
It is likely that the publication of such an original work with respect to contemporary reflections on the theatre was seen by the author and Moratín as something of a risky business, almost a provocation to the other members of the Giunta. In fact it set out to found a new theory of acting, and the choice of sources was crucial. The Ensayo sobre el origen y naturaleza de las pasiones maintained that the dramatic art was based on the physiology of the emotions, and this proved to be a turning point in theoretical considerations of the theatre. In many respects it was diametrically opposed to the verbose treatise of Tragiense, translated by González, whose moralistic attitude identified the contagion of emotions produced by drama as the most deleterious element in theatre. Tragiense’s work virtually sought to rid the concept of theatre of the materiality of the stage, and in particular of actors, who had been the object of reproofs and condemnation for centuries. Instead the Ensayo advocated a “scientific”, category-based approach to the question of acting, singling out the passions as the chief elements of analysis. It was highly significant that the author looked to the French model, and thus to a more up-to-date and unconventional approach, rather than the Italian school, which was more historiographical and far removed from the crucial questions facing the acting world (one has only to think of the work cited above by Milizia). The two works – the Ensayo and the translation of Tragiense’s treatise – were in practice incompatible. In an embryonic theoretical framework they ideally vied for the role of founders of the new discipline, as if they were the grammars of a language which was still to be invented.
Although there had been a few previous attempts, the
first real schools for actors were not created in Spain until 1830, when the
Real Conservatorio de Música y Declamación de María Cristina was inaugurated in
Madrid. By this time instruction in theatre and music had become a priority in
politics and government circles, and other establishments soon followed, not
The 1830s were a crucial moment for the creation of
official courses in acting, and the production of treatises underwent a
substantial development, based on a clearly defined conceptual approach. 1833
saw the Tratado de declamación o Arte
dramático by Vicente Joaquín Bastús y Carrera, announced as being of
benefit for the instruction of actors and teachers in the fine arts. It was immediately adopted for the
courses taught at the Real Conservatorio. In
In 1839 Bastús was appointed Professor of acting in
the Liceo di Maria Cristina,
From 1830 onwards, schools of acting were inaugurated
Thus many treatises and manuals dealing with acting were written specifically for teaching purposes, often by famous actors like Prieto or Julián Romea or by less eminent colleagues. In other cases, rather than producing full blown treatises, actors such as Manuel Catalina and Antonio Vico left some written considerations on the theatre of their day which are rich in references to acting. In this context the expressive codification of the passions naturally had a decisive function and tended to be normative rather than descriptive. The treatises on acting published in Spain during the nineteenth century are however very heterogeneous, ranging from simple pamphlets containing reflections on acting to weighty manuals which deal systematically with all the various aspects associated with acting, ranging from physiology to the history of theatre.
One also finds more or less generic observations on
the art of acting in histories of the theatre, like the one published in 1848
by the playwright Ramón de Valladares y Saavedra. The author gives a brief overview of the
various skills required by the actor, from correct pronunciation to appropriacy
of gesture. Significantly, for all its brevity, he devotes some pages to the
expression of the basic passions (sympathy, antipathy, love, jealousy,
ambition, avarice, pride and scorn), which had come to be seen as the
fundamental categories for interpretation (viewed as a figurative
representation of the affects). Manuel Bretón de los Herreros was also a
playwright, and his Progresos y estado
In fact treatises dealing with gesture and
declamation had become in vogue all over
As the century progressed, expressive codification became a fundamental element in teaching: on a par with, if not more than, painters and sculptors, actors had to be familiar with the signs which manifest emotions so as to be able to reproduce them on stage. We can identify the origin of this development in Zeglirscosac’s Ensayo, which focused attention definitively on facial expressivity and gesture, paving the way for further reflections. Some treatises took this approach to extremes, postulating a one-to-one correspondence between sentiment and the kinaesthetic sign which expresses it and formulating a list of passions and states of mind which have correspondences in certain expressions and sentiments. One example is the treatise by Lorenzo Badioli, Declamación sagrada, forense, académica, popular, militar y teatral, published in 1864, which gives a sample repertoire of gestures and attitudes that can be immediately deciphered. Thus for example placing the head on the right hand indicates attention and meditation, while spreading the right hand and placing it on the chest indicates taking an oath and giving assurance; again, covering the eyes with the palms of the hands, slightly turning the head and placing the open palms on an object or raising the arms is a clear sign of terror, horror and aversion.
The second part
of the Consejos sobre la declamación
(1865) by Antonio Capo Celada, a
famous actor and professor at the Real Conservatorio de Maria Cristina, also
features a sort of dictionary of the passions. He offers a particularly wide spectrum,
ranging from friendship to jealousy and fright to artistic fanaticism, giving
explanations of their nature and physiognomic observations interspersed with
indications on how they are to be expressed. Acting tends to be classified in a
series of categories defined in terms of expressivity: in the case of Capo
Celada this covers the different human types and even ages. In general, the
second half of the century marked the
It is significant that this trend persisted through to the end of the century. Authors of treatises became so enamoured of descriptive classification that they would even list a series of phrases and expressions accompanied by the relative movement or pose, as in the bizarre work by Lorenzo Prohens y Juan, Indicaciones sobre la declamación. The idea of establishing hard and fast rules for representation led to the compilation of authentic dictionaries of the passions, as well as actors’ handbooks, even though these actually contradict the principle of “naturalness”, meaning the pursuit of expressive spontaneity which was supposed to go hand in hand with self-identification on the part of the actor. Although various theorists, such as Bretón de los Herreros, took a different approach to the question, criticising the absurd codifying tendency which characterised many treatises, the fact that this trend persisted at least through to the end of the century shows that it undoubtedly responded to a specific need in terms of instruction and dissemination.
While most acting manuals were written by actors, playwrights or scholars with a particular passion for the theatre, some were published by contemporary directors, like El Arte en el Teatro (1875) by José Manjarrés. In his introduction the author states that the work draws on his study of the practice of theatrical directing. Although the Spanish stage in the nineteenth century, like its Italian counterpart, was dominated by the leading actors, from the second half of the eighteenth century the need emerged for a figure wielding authority to supervise the production. The fact that reformers and treatise writers frequently appealed to the “director” is closely linked to the process of institutionalization in the art of theatre. The first advocates of theatrical reform, such as Mariano Nifo, proposed the institution of a general theatre director, responsible for repertory, distributing the parts and all matters of organization. As has been pointed out, in Nifo’s project the director was supposed to be present at rehearsals, ‘noting and correcting faults in the actors, giving them a clear idea of the sentiments and passions contained in the text’: functions which, in certain aspects, do indeed prefigure the figure of the director as we know it. In practice, the director was not supposed to restrict himself to matters of organization and discipline, but also to serve as a link between playwright and actors. Other authors who called for the institution of a director were José de Resma, in the introductory note to his translation of the treatise by François Riccoboni (1783), Aguirre in his project for a residence-cum-studio for actors and Juan Francisco Plano in the Ensayo sobre la meyoría de nuestro teatro (1798). Plano attributed to the director tasks relating to instructing the actors in the art of expression: ‘under the direction of an accomplished Director, [the actors] have to learn to declaim with finesse, and understand that each passion has its own gesture and tone of voice, and that the expression of the same passions varies between people of different social classes’.
In fact the importance which the figure of the
theatre director took on from the end of the eighteenth century transpires
quite clearly from the projects for reform. It reveals a lack of confidence in
the playwrights who took charge of managing the companies, even though they had
just received from the magistrates the responsibility for those functions which
were being identified as specific to an autonomous figure. The project for the reform of the
In treatises dating from the beginning of the
nineteenth century the role and functions of the director were spelt out and
applied to the more limited context of a specific company. One example is the Ensayo sobre el origen y naturaleza de las
Brief Considerations on the Question of Emotional Participation
One crucial question which emerges in the Spanish
treatises even before the onset of the nineteenth century concerned
“sensibility”, meaning whether an actor should participate emotively in the
passions he expresses. This topic would require a lengthy treatment, and here I
shall merely outline it in order to complete this account. As we have seen, in the ‘Reflexiones
sobre el Estado de
Nonetheless the translation of Diderot’s Paradoxe, and prior to this the Mémoires d’Hippolyte Clairon, helped to
spread different opinions on the matter. Madame Clairon also believed, in fact, that acting
was the outcome of an art, meaning a know-how based on imitation rather than on
sensibility. Her reflections did not have a great influence on
Spanish treatises, probably because many of her observations were too specific,
referring to roles and characters of the French stage. Besides, the great
actress maintained that schools of acting served no purpose, while in
At first sight it might seem as though there can only be hard and fast rules for instruction in acting if it is considered an art of imitation. But the principle behind the theories of acting in the nineteenth century held that the passions speak a universal language which is bound to emerge if the actor identifies himself with his part. As is well known, for Diderot the actor had to realise an ideal model based on the observation of reality, implying truth to life, but re-elaborated in the light of an aesthetic, idealising conception. Hence his expressive capacity is the outcome of personal invention or artistic creation, but nineteenth century theorists failed to grasp the full implications of this view. They did not understand that, far from reducing the actor to a mechanical puppet, this conception gave him the status of a creative interpreter. Whereas according to the emotionalist theory, the actor’s creativity is realised in his identification with the character, triggering the expression of sentiments which are in fact universal and universally comprehensible. The paradox is that the codification of the passions and the drawing up of repertories of gesture derive precisely from the principle of universality and the expressive immediacy of the passions. While for Diderot the artiste has to mediate, calling on the intellect, between truth to life and aesthetic content, the advocates of self-identification subscribe to a sort of principle of expressive transparency. They recognise that nature can be embellished by art, but insist on the naturalness of expressivity, without granting to acting the status of an artistic phenomenon endowed with its own expressive rules which can differ from those informing reality. At least this was the theory, since in practice nineteenth century actors were perfectly conscious of the divergence, and exploited it for example by indulging in the most far-fetched flights of poetic licence which were sure to produce an effect. Nonetheless the majority of treatise writers, while making various concessions and distinctions, adhered to an idealistic stance which denied this divergence.
Thus the possibility of codifying gesture does not derive from a detached, rational mode of acting but rather, however absurd this may appear, from the model of the instinctive, passionate actor, who gives expression to his conception of the character in his emotive participation. It is precisely because the sentiments are dictated by nature that the sensitive actor can express them without altering their essential character. The extreme and paradoxical consequence of this outlook based on the myth of self-identification was the production of manuals and handbooks for actors.
In nineteenth century treatises the question of the actor’s sensibility recurs repeatedly and coexists with the principle of a codification of gesture for teaching purposes. Most treatise writers also sought to maintain a difficult equilibrium between the two different outlooks: the necessity of arousing emotions by identifying with the character, and the advisability of making measured use of one’s own emotivity, mediated by judgement and reason. In general it was nonetheless the idealised conception of a profession based on emotive sensitivity and inspiration which prevailed. To give just a few examples, Barroso believed that the one indispensable endowment for an actor was sensitivity, even arguing, by means of an assimilation which is indeed debatable, that the actor must be as easily carried away as the playwright, since a cold, impassive person cannot be a good interpreter. The association of two such different functions and professions as author and interpreter is further proof of the fact that the much lauded sensibility was considered an indispensable quality in the creative process tout court, according to the ingenuous but firmly rooted idealization that had much in common with the romantic spirit. Theorists oscillated between the romantic idea that genius is part and parcel of the artist (‘genius cannot be learnt’, as Carlos Latorre, for example, asserted) and the idea that instruction in acting is necessary to raise the art to the desired level of perfection.
The reflections of Guerra y Alarcón on this subject are more complex. He believed that to find the right inspiration it can suffice to grasp a detail, the memory of an episode from personal experience, the presence of a close friend or relative in the theatre. This in itself will elevate the actor, making him a superior being. There is no need for rules, or Diderot’s capacity to conceive of the character as a whole, since once again inspiration is the keystone for everything. Then again, even though Andrés Prieto favoured a pragmatic approach to the question and maintained that one of the most important qualities for an actor is to have keen powers of observation, he also to some extent denied the validity of Diderot’s theory. Almost as if to offset the emphasis placed on the spirit of observation, he insisted on the importance of sensibility.
When all is said and done, the oscillation between the emotionalist and anti-emotionalist positions was a constant feature of Spanish treatises, as was the case elsewhere. In his Manual de declamación, Julián Romea argued for example that one of the natural gifts required in an actor is sensibility, meaning ‘the facility, characteristic of the heart and mind of the artiste, to be impressed by everything they hear or see’. Nonetheless he goes on to observe that it is useful for the actor to have a certain natural instinct for observation, enabling him to identify in everyday life those specific traits, attitudes and expressions which can be revived in his memory and used on stage. We find an even more striking ambivalence in Bastús’s treatise. According to some of his assertions, he would seem to be a confirmed advocate of the necessity for self-identification. At the same time, however, he states that the actor must display the passions as if he felt them, but without actually feeling them because otherwise he would lose the ability to express them. The actor must not let himself be carried away on the tide of sentiment, he states echoing Engel, but at the same time, when representing a passion he must nonetheless feel acute emotion, and here he seems to be closer to the position of Lessing.
As can be seen even from these few examples, Spanish
writing on the theatre is inscribed in the complex theoretical paradigm that
had been elaborated elsewhere in
* Translated by Mark Weir, Università di Napoli “L’Orientale”.
 See Nicolás Fernández de Moratín, Desengaños al teatro español, ed. by D. Th. Gies and M. A. Lama, Madrid, Castalia, 1996, p. 151. The three essays
have been dated to 1762-1763.
See also D. Th. Gies, Nicolás Fernández
 Ignacio de Luzán, Poética ó reglas de la poesia, Zaragoza, Francisco Revilla, 1737.
 Ignacio de Luzán, Memorias literarias de Paris, Madrid, Don Gabriel Ramirez, 1751.
 Ibid., p. 95 and pp. 115-116.
 Pierre Rémond de Sainte-Albine, Le Comédien, Paris, Desaint & Saillant et Vincent fils, 1747. The second edition dates from 1749.
 Ignacio de Luzán, Memorias literarias de Paris, pp. 118-119 ff. These pages deal with the arm movements which the actor should perform naturally, without any effort, ensuring they start from the shoulder.
 Luigi Riccoboni, De la reformation du théâtre, Paris,
1743. The first six chapters
translated by Francisco Mariano Nifo were printed in Diario estrangero between 7 June 1763 and 19 July 1763. Taking
Parisian periodicals as its model, the weekly included play reviews and
accounts of performances, the first time these began to be published in
 ‘Reflexiones sobre el
 See Ch. Davis, Introduction to Memorias cronológicas sobre el origen de la representación de comedias en España (año de 1785), p. 8.
 See ‘Reflexiones
sobre el Estado de
 Diderot had only an indirect knowledge of the treatise by Rémond de Sainte-Albine, through Sticotti’s translation of the English edition made by John Hill. On formulations of the opposing theories of self-identification and dispassionate detachment in eighteenth century theoretical writings, see C. Vicentini, ‘Teorie della recitazione. Diderot e la questione del paradosso’, in Storia del teatro moderno e contemporaneo, ed. by R. Alonge and G. Davico Bonino, 4 vols., Torino, Einaudi, 2000, II, Il grande teatro borghese: Settecento-Ottocento, pp. 5-47.
 ‘la inteligencia del papel y exacta imitación
de lo que encierra’. ‘Reflexiones sobre el Estado de
 See ibid. and note.
 François Riccoboni, L’art du théâtre à Madame ***, Paris, Simon et Giffard, 1750. El arte del teatro, en que se manifiestan los verdaderos principios de la declamación teatral, y la diferencia que hay de esta a la del púlpito y tribunales, etc., Spanish trans. by José de Resma, Madrid, Ibarra, 1783. José de Resma is a pseudonym for Ignacio Meras y Queipo de Llano.
 Francesco Milizia, Del teatro, In Venezia, Giambatista
Pasquali, 1773 (second edition). El teatro, Spanish translation ed. by José Francisco Ortíz y
 Lauriso Tragiense, De i vizj, e de i difetti del moderno teatro e del modo di correggergli, e d’emendarli, In Roma, Pagliarini, 1753. The Spanish translation, by Santos Díez González and Manuel de Valbuena, is entitled Conversaciones de Lauriso Tragiense, pastor arcade, sobre los vicios y defectos del Teatro moderno y el modo de corregirlos y enmendarlos, Madrid, Imprenta Real, 1798.
 Johann Jakob Engel, Ideen zu einer Mimik, 2 vols., Berlin, Mylius, 1785-1786. The first 25 letters were printed in Éspiritu de los mejores diarios literarios que se publican en Europa between 24 August 1789 and 8 November 1790.
 Carlos Latorre, Noticias sobre el arte de la declamación, Madrid, Yenes, 1839. Recently republished in Maestros del Teatro, ed. by Á. Martínez Roger, Madrid, RESAD, 2006, pp. 123-133. See p. 125.
 See J.
Dowling, ‘El anti-don Juan de Ventura de
 See F. Doménech Rico, ‘Introducción’ to Carlos Latorre, Noticias sobre el arte de la declamación, p. 118.
 François-Joseph Talma, Réflexions sur Lekain et sur l’art dramatique, Paris, Tenré, 1825.
 ‘Associés aux grands auteurs, les acteurs sont pour eux plus que des traducteurs; le traducteu r n’ajoute rien à la pensée de l’auteur qu’il traduit; le comédien, en se mettant fidèlement à la place du personnage qu’il représente, doit compléter la pensée de l’auteur dont il est l’interprète’. I quote from François-Joseph Talma, Réflexions de Talma sur Lekain et sur l’art théâtral, Paris, Fontaine, 1856, p. 4.
 Cf. Carlos Latorre, Noticias sobre el arte de la declamación, p. 125 ff., and François-Joseph Talma, Réflexions de Talma sur Lekain et sur l’art théâtral, p. 23 ff. and p. 34.
 Andrés Prieto, Teoría del arte dramático, ed. by J. Vellón Lahoz, Madrid, Fundamentos, 2001. The complete title of the manuscript conserved in the Biblioteca Nacional di Madrid reads Teoría del arte cómico y elementos de oratoria y declamación para la enseñanza de los alumnos del Real Conservatorio de María Cristina.
 Julián Romea,
Manual de declamación para uso de los
alumnos del Real Conservatorio de Madrid, Madrid, F. Abieroso, 1859. The third and fourth edition came out in
 See ibid. (1879), p. 107.
 See G. Soria
 See ibid., p. 37.
 See F. A. Piñal, Sevilla y el teatro nel siglo XVIII, Oviedo, Universidad de Oviedo, 1974, and more specifically J. Álvarez Barrientos, ‘Plan de una casa-estudio de teatros del siglo XVIII’, Dicenda. Quadernos de Filología Hispánica, no. 6 (1987), 455-471.
 See M. C. Millán, ‘Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos: Memoria para el arreglo de la policía de los espectáculos y diversiones públicas y sobre su origen en España’, Epos: Revista de filología, no. 7 (1991), p. 366.
 See J. Herrera Navarro, ‘Los Planes de reforma del Teatro en el siglo XVIII’, in El mundo hispánico en el siglo de las luces, Madrid, Editorial Complutense, 1996, II, pp. 789-803.
 Francisco Mariano Nifo, Idea política y cristiana para reformar el actual teatro de España. Drawn up on 14 October 1769, the project has never been published. See L. Domergue, ‘Dos reformadores del teatro: Nifo y Moratín’, Coloquio internacional sobre Leandro Fernández Moratín, Bologna, 27-29 October 1978, Abano Terme, Piovan, 1980, p. 97.
 See ibid.
 See J. Álvarez Barrientos, ‘El actor español en el siglo XVIII: formación, consideración social y profesionalidad’, Revista de Literatura, no. 100 (1988), p. 457.
 Santos Díez
González, Idea de una reforma de los
teatros públicos de Madrid que allane el camino para proceder después sin
dificultades ni embrazos hasta su perfeción (Madrid, 1797), published in C.
E. Kany, ‘Plan de reforma de los teatros de Madrid aprobado en
 On the content of the project and
Moratín’s interventions see J. Subirá, ‘
 José Subirá maintains that his collaboration was decisive, and sets him on a par with Díez González. See ibid., p. 27.
 As well as insisting that actors should specialise as much as possible, Nifo’s project also envisaged them attending lessons in declamation, dancing and fencing, taking painting and sculpture as models in assimilating a nobility of gesture. See L. Domergue, ‘Dos reformadores del teatro: Nifo y Moratín’, pp. 102-103.
 See J. Subirá, ‘
 Mariano Luis de Urquijo, La muerte de César: tragedia francesa de Mr. de Voltaire, traducida en verso castellano y acompañada de un discurso del traductor sobre el estado actual de nuestros teatros y necesidad de su reforma, Madrid, Blas Román, 1791, pp. 1-87.
 This was the opinion of E. Cotarelo y Mori, Isidoro Máiquez y el teatro de su tiempo (1902), Madrid, Asociación de Directores de Escena de España, 2009, p. 147.
 See ibid., p. 149.
 See ibid., p. 150.
 On this point see J. Álvarez Barrientos, ‘Plan de una casa-estudio de teatros del siglo XVIII’, in particular pp. 458-459.
 For example Lorenzo Badioli, Declamación sagrada, forense, académica, popular, militar y teatral, Madrid, Manuel Galiano, 1864.
 Fermín Eduardo Zeglirscosac, Ensayo sobre el origen y naturaleza de las pasiones, del gesto y de la acción teatral, Madrid, Sancha, 1800.
 Charles Le Brun, Conférence sur l’expression générale et particulière, Paris, Picart, 1698. On Le Brun’s publication and its cultural influence see J. Montagu, The expression of the passions. The origin and influence of Charles Le Brun’s “Conférence sur l’expression générale et particulière”, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 1994. See also S. Ross, ‘Painting the passions: Charles Le Brun’s “Conférence sur l’espression”’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 45, no. 1 (1984), 25-47.
 See in particular Andrés Prieto, Teoría del arte dramático, chap. X.
 This attribution relies above all on two indications: the attention paid to the figure of the “scene director”, which overlapped with the project of reform proposed in the same years by Moratín, and the fact that the playwright is known to have paid two visits to the publisher Sancha at the end of 1799 and early in 1800, this not being one of the houses with whom Moratín published his works. See J. A. Hormigón, Trabajo dramatúrgico y puesta en escena, Madrid, ADE, 2002, I, p. 46.
 See F. Doménech Rico, ‘Zeglirscosac desvelado o el abogado sensible’, Dieciocho. Hispanic Enlightenment, 27, no. 2 (Fall, 2004), 219-231.
 Ibid., p. 227.
 Vicente Joaquín Bastús y Carrera, Tratado de declamación o Arte dramático, Barcelona, Por los Heredos de A. Roca, 1833.
 Luis Lamarca, Apuntes sobre el arte de representar, dedicados a
los individuos de
 See G. Soria Tomás y E. Pérez-Rasilla, ‘Biografía personal e intelectual de V. J. Bastús y Carrera’, in Vicente Joaquín Bastús y Carrera, Tratado de declamación o arte dramático, ed. by G. Soria Tomás y E. Pérez-Rasilla, Madrid, Fundamentos, 2008, pp. 11-48.
 Vicente Joaquín Bastús y Carrera, Utilidad de establecer un curso de enseñanza de historia aplicada a las bellas artes, Barcelona, Archivio della Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres, Lligall 18, 4, fol. 862.
 Vicente Joaquín
Bastús y Carrera, Memoria sobre
la utilidad de publicar un curso de historia para los profesores de las bellas
artes y directores de escena, Barcelona, Archivio della Reial Acadèmia de
Bones Lletres, Llibre segon de les Actes de les sessions de
 Antonio Pizarroso, Discurso pronunciado el 1° de octubre de 1872 en la apertura de la clase de declamación instalada en el Tteatro Español, Madrid, José M. Ducázcal, 1872.
 Manuel Catalina, El teatro. Los actores, Madrid, Imprenta
Central à cargo de V. Saiz,
 In addition to full-blown treatises throughout the century short, practical manuals were published, such as the pamphlet of only 16 pages by Juan de Alba, Tratado de declamación y semblanzas de los emperadores y reyes que stám mas en juego en las trajedias y dramas de nuestros autores antiguos y contemporáneos, y nociones de literatura y poesia, Valencia, Casa de Beneficiencia, 1886. At the same time short reflections on theatrical reform continued to be published, such as Julio Nombela, Proyecto de bases para la fundación de una escuela especial del arte teatral, Madrid, Imprenta del Hospicio, 1880.
 Ramón de Valladares y Saavedra, Nociones acerca de la historia del teatro desde su nacimiento hasta nuestros días; antecediéndola de algunos principios de poética, música y declamación, Madrid, Imprenta Publicidad, 1848, pp. 38-46.
 Manuel Bretón de los Herreros, Progresos y estado actual del arte de la declamación en los teatros de España, Madrid, Mellado, 1852. See also P. Miret, Las ideas teatrales de M. Bretón de los Herreros, Logroño, Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2004.
 See P. Miret, Las ideas teatrales de M. Bretón de los Herreros, p. 280.
 For example Manuel Catalina, El teatro. Los actores.
 For example Louis Auguste Segond, El libro de los oradores y actores. Causas principales de la debilitación de la voz y del desarrollo de varias enfermedades y modo de precaverlas, precedido de la hijiene para conservar la salud de todas edades, por medios fáciles y al alcande de todo. Trans. and ed. by Juan de Castro. Madrid, Don Pedro Montero, 1856. More specifically for singers (at the Conservatorio de Música y Declamación, Barcellona) is Antonietta Tschudy, Tratado de declamación italiana y de la mímica unida al canto, Barcelona, Jaime Jepús, 1892.
 Antonio Barroso, Ensayos sobre el arte de la declamación, Madrid, Colegio de Sordo-Mudos y Ciegos, 1845.
 Antonio Guerra y Alarcón, Curso completo de declamación ó enciclopedia de los conoscimientos que necesitan adquirir los que se dedican al arte escénico, Madrid, F. Maroto é Hijos, 1884.
 See Lorenzo Badioli, Declamación sagrada, forense, académica, popular, militar y teatral, con un apèndice sobre el canto en general, pp. 40-41. See also Gaspar Gomez Trigo, La declamación, Madrid, Francisco García Padrós, n.d.
 Antonio Capo Celada, Consejos sobre la declamación, Madrid, Colegio de Sordomutos y Ciegos, 1865.
 ‘Deseo: Voz aguda; pronunciación rapida y arrebatada; ojos avidos y fijos en el objeto deseado; la acción en direccion al objeto’. F. D. y R., Compendio de declamación, Valencia, 1882, p. 20.
 Eduardo Minguell y Tey, Mímica melodramática. Bocetos didácticos, Barcelona, Luís Tasso Serra, 1888.
 Lorenzo Prohens y Juan, Indicaciones sobre la declamación, Palma, Umbert y Mir, 1899.
 José Manjarrés, El Arte en el Teatro, Barcelona, Juan y Antonio Bastinos, 1875. This work is not in fact a treatise on acting for actors, but an essay on various aspects of the dramatic art, giving an overview of its history and paying particular attention to the various components (genres, scenery, lighting and stage machinery, recitation and costumes).
 See J. Herrera Navarro, ‘Los Planes de reforma del Teatro en el siglo XVIII’, p. 791.
 ‘notar y corregir los defectos que se adviertan en los comediantes, dándoles una clara idea de los sentimientos y pasiones que haya el papel que se represente’. L. Domergue, ‘Dos reformadores del teatro: Nifo y Moratín’, p. 100.
 See François Riccoboni, El arte del teatro, en que se manifiestan los verdaderos principios de la declamación teatral, y la diferencia que hay de esta a la del púlpito y tribunales, etc., pp. XII-XIII. See also J. Á. Barrientos, ‘Plan de una casa-estudio de teatros del siglo XVIII’, pp. 463-470.
 ‘baxo el gobierno de un Director hábil, deben aprendere á decir con finura, y endender que cada pasión tiene su gesto y tono de voz propio, y que aún la misma pasión lo tiene diferente en cada clase de persona’. Juan Francisco Plano, Ensayo sobre la meyoría de nuestro teatro, Segovia, Espinosa, 1798, p. 98.
 See L. Domergue, ‘Dos reformadores del teatro: Nifo y Moratín’, p. 101.
 Santos Díez González, Idea de una reforma de los teatros públicos de Madrid que allane el camino para proceder después sin dificultades ni embarazos hasta su perfeción, pp. 245-284. Cf. J. Herrera Navarro, ‘Los Planes de reforma del Teatro en el siglo XVIII’, p. 801.
 ‘No hay quien instruya a los Cómicos en el arte de la declamación, de donde resulta que todos elos son ignorantes en su exercicio, y si tal vez, por un efecto extraordinario del talento, llegasen a acertar en algo, serían inútiles estos esfuerzos: puesto que no hay establecida una recompensa justa, proporcionada a sus adelantamientos’. Leandro Fernández de Moratín, Plan de reforma de los teatros españoles. Dated 18 February 1792, it was published in P. Cabañas, ‘Moratín y la reforma del teatro de su tiempo’, Revista de Bibliografia Nacional, 1944, pp. 75-84.
 Leandro Fernández de Moratín, Proposición a su Majestad sobre la creación de una plaza de Director de teatros. Dated 14 December 1792, the document was published in P. Cabañas, ‘Moratín y la reforma del teatro de su tiempo’, pp. 74-75.
 Juan de Morales Guzmán y Tovar, Informe del Corregidor sobre el Plan de Moratín. Dated 28 October 1793, the document was published in P. Cabañas, ‘Moratín y la reforma del teatro de su tiempo’, pp. 88-95.
 See L. Domergue, ‘Dos reformadores del teatro: Nifo y Moratín’, p. 105.
 Manuel García de
Villanueva y Parra, Manifiesto por los
teatros españoles y sus actores, Madrid, En
 Ibid., p. 31.
 ‘El arte de representar es arte de sentir, y explicar el sentimento con el gesto, la voz y la accion, de modo que se imprima en el corazon del espectador’. Juan Francisco Plano, Ensayo sobre la meyoría de nuestro teatro, p. 84.
 Hippolyte Clairon, Réflexions sur l’art dramatique, in Mémoires d’Hippolyte Clairon, Paris, Buisson, 1798, pp. 22-61. Reflexiones de Mma. Clairon, actriz de la comedia francesa sobre el arte de la declamación, trans. by J. D. M., Madrid, Gerónimo Ortega, 1800.
 See ibid., p. 30.
 See Antonio Barroso, Ensayos sobre el arte de la declamación, p. 49, passim. On p. 69 he even states that ‘the good actor does not make believe, he feels’.
 Carlos Latorre, Noticias sobre el arte de la declamación, p. 124.
 See Antonio Guerra y Alarcón, Curso completo de declamación ó enciclopedia de los conoscimientos que necesitan adquirir los que se dedican al arte escénico, pp. 414-415.
 See Andrés Prieto, Teoría del arte dramático, p. 82, passim.
 See ibid., p. 86.
 ‘la facilidad de impresionarse que tienen el corazon y la mente del artista con todo lo que oyen ó miran’. Julián Romea, Manual de declamación para uso de los alumnos del Real Conservatorio de Madrid (1879), p. 108.
 See ibid. (1879), p. 109.
 See Vicente Joaquín Bastús y Carrera, Tratado de declamación o Arte dramático, p. 51.
 Cf. Johann Jakob Engel, Ideen zu einer Mimik, I, pp. 10-11, and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, 2 vols., Leipzig, J. Dodsley und Compagnie, 1767-1769, I, pp. 19-20.