chapter  2
25 Pages

The Corral’s Contribution to Somatic Experience

As the theater community gained popularity, and to a large extent a distinguished level in society,1 artists and audiences alike beneted from a polysemic art form, found in the comedia performed in the corrales. In Spain, the corral presented a different type of theater than its European counterparts-one very much inuenced by its unique architectural design. In late sixteenth-century Madrid, existing houses that framed a large courtyard were adapted to form the rst permanent public theaters: Corral de la Cruz in 1579 and Corral del Príncipe in 1583. The addition of rooms, benches and entrances to the corrales, the unpredictable weather conditions, and the unstable economic and political climate contributed to the natural evolution of the architecture of the Spanish playhouse, creating a host of “happenings,” to use Kaprow’s term, from the location, to the food, to the people who surrounded them, that eventually led to a complete experience for the spectator. It is “precisely because art can be confused with life, it forces attention upon the aim of its ambiguities, to ‘reveal’ experience” (Kaprow 82), and it is true of the comedia, as well. The importance of the whole experience and the interdependence of its parts, in the case of theaters, not only inspired actors, but also played a role in the theatrical experience of the members of the audience, enhancing their individual perceptions of the presentations, a pragmatic aesthetics true from the buildings to the plays. Moreover, the female actor’s interaction with the unique theater space helped her cultivate somatic habits that allowed her to create strong roles for the stage, which in turn contributed to the architectural appeal of the corral by its Renaissance audience.