Visual Experiences in Cinquecento Theatrical Spaces
Published: January 2019© 2018
216 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.80 in, 70 b&w illustrations
Through an interdisciplinary examination of sixteenth-century theatre, Visual Experiences in Cinquecento Theatrical Spaces studies the performative aspects of the early modern stage, paying special attention to the overlooked complexities of audience experience.
Examining the period’s philosophical and aesthetic ideas about space, place, and setting, the book shows how artists consciously moved away from traditional representations of real spaces on stage, instead providing their audiences with more imaginative and collaborative engagements that were untethered by strict definitions of naturalism. In this way, the book breaks with traditional interpretations of early modern staging techniques, arguing that the goal of artists in this period was not to cater to a single privileged viewer through the creation of a naturalistically unified stage but instead to offer up a complex multimedia experience that would captivate a diverse assembly of theatre-goers.
Introduction: Striking the Stage
1. Magic and Mimesis: La Calandria and the Idea of Rome
2. The Artificial City on Stage
3. Palladio, Scamozzi, and the Built Theatre as Enclosure
4. The Medici Theatres, Political Aspirations, and Cognitive Autonomy
"Berzal de Dios offers excellent comparative discussions on the illustrations that work well to demonstrate the book’s overall thesis – when it comes to the stage, spectators engage with a play of asemblances and recognizable buildings, not a mimetic ideal. Berzal de Dios’s emphasis on disunity in scenography reminds us that a city that appears on stage is not always a representation of the truth. Urban spaces condensed on the stage might imply an idealized locale, but we need to be looking at the stage with a different point of view. Berzal de Dios’s study reminds us that built environments on the Cinquecento stage were ephemeral, made for plural audiences, and meant to celebrate irregular viewpoints."Kyna Hamill, Boston University, Renaissance Quarterly, Summer 2020
"Javier Berzal de Dios’s excellent Visual Experiences in Cinquecento Theatrical Spaces persuasively rebuts received narratives regarding Italian Renaissance theatre architecture and design, offering a more complex, nuanced picture that includes the heterogeneous, sometimes messy experiences of actual spectators."Robert Henke, Theatre Journal, Vol. 73 No. 1
"Visual Experiences in Cinquecento Theatrical Spaces is truly an enlightening book. This study excavates both visual and literary evidence to bring us into early modern Italian theatres in a way that is rarely achieved in cross-disciplinary studies. This book will speak not only to art historians but also to literary critics, and scholars in performance studies."Kristin Phillips-Court, Department of French and Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Visual Experiences in Cinquecento Theatrical Spaces is an illuminating contribution to the study of early modern stage designs, namely, the creation and function of material apparati and ‘spatial practices’ that determined the actual, lived experience of theatre."Sarah Ross, Department of History, Boston College