What is the entremés?
In the dramatic genre, the entremés is one of the most important subgenres, which focuses on entertainment far from pretensions, which is why it has achieved a great development over time in the artistic world to find its own created place in the world of literature.
Often, the argument that handles the entremés has no direct connection with the work of greater length. It is characterized fundamentally by its humorous tone that even contains carnivalesque elements in which it evidences the contrast with the more serious and elegant of the play it interrupts, hence its characters are figures belonging to the popular class, including old men, sacristan, the bobo, among others.
Meaning of entremés
The term -entremés- comes from the French word entremts. It refers to this space of entertainment intercalated in the middle of a public act, hence the participation of the entremés is subjected within a more extensive theatrical work and of serious character, where the entremés is jocular and burlesque.
Definition of Entremés
The entremés can be defined as a short dramatic piece, which can be either burlesque or comic and is of a single act. In the entremés it is performed between the acts of the comedy or of an extended play in which it is included. This short piece is mainly represented during the golden centuries in the rest periods of a play whose character is serious.
History and origin of the entremés
The birth of the entremés, essentially characterized by its jocular character in its beginnings, is found in the 16th century, where in the major theatrical works these pieces begin to be interspersed in the larger compositions. One of the greatest impulses achieved by the entremés is the renunciation of verse, given that prose begins to be implemented in the form of dialogue, as well as the incursion of the comic as a wedge within the larger tragedies with amorous, heroic and serious overtones, which are denied by the entremés and in many cases, mocked.
Lope de Rueda becomes the main exponent of the entremés because he is the one who created the first works of this subgenre, which in its beginnings was called -pasos-. In the beginning, the entremés included satire, as well as intrigue, and starred established characters such as rogues, students and gypsies, who were easily distinguished by their costumes and attitude. Later on, other authors would emerge from the 17th century, such as Félix Lope de Vega, who also presented a series of anonymous entremeses.
By the year 1616 Miguel de Cervantes appears as the creator of a series of entremeses, creating a repertoire that quickly became known by the public. Thus began the production of works of this sub-genre, which began to consolidate as one of the most important elements of drama, and which was nourished by a series of aspects proposed by the authors, such as the introduction of sung dances, as well as the disappearance of improvisations. The entremés will incorporate its own actors and characters, who use hendecasyllables and octosyllables, mostly for the construction of dialogues. Its development was fundamental for drama, which will inspire other subgenres of drama such as the sainete.
Characteristics of the entremés
These are general aspects of this subgenre of the dramatic genre:
Themes of the entremés
Although the themes addressed by the entremés can be varied, they are often dissolved from the roles and characters that are immersed in the piece, where the imperfections of the human being are shown at the same time that they are deformed from their attitude. Common disputes such as good and evil, joy and sadness, deception and disillusionment, among others, are also related. In many cases the entremés can make a presentation of denunciation of reprehensible situations.
Form of writing
The entremés, mostly, is written in prose, however, in its initial stage the authors used to write them in verse.
One of the most important characteristics of the entremés has to do with its characters, since they are inspired by people who belonged to the popular class of the sixteenth century, who go on to mock the series and sophistication of the main work. Others will also appear such as the bailiffs who are caricatured as deaf and blind characters, friendly with bribes, the mayors as rural figures, the poor soldier without occupation, since the militia is also criticized.
Other characters are the doctor, the apothecary, the scribe, the lawyer, the innkeepers, the innkeepers, the salesmen, the pages, the poet, the husband, those who belonged to a certain region, the mop, the blessed, the woman, the courtesans, among many others. The traits of the characters are repeated in the different entremeses.
An essential aspect that must be taken into account is that due to the way the entremés are represented, in addition to the characters and their general characterization, the audience has a feeling of superiority in relation to them, since they are presented, in many cases in a clumsy way and seen as sinners, which creates a distancing and no generalized identification of the audience with the characters, but identifiable in their different tasks and roles.
Both the metric and the stanza establish a type of division of the text that will take place in the representation, therefore they are used to delimit the sequences.
Structure of the entremés
It is important to keep in mind that due to the brevity of the entremés, the actions are represented in an external structure with a single sequence, since it is included within a longer play. However, the following aspects can be identified: the internal progression which is the exposition of the theme to be dealt with, the development in which the most determining events take place and the denouement where the piece ends.
On the other hand, the delimitation of the sequences of the entremés is built on metric and spatial criteria, composed of micro sequences that are determined by the rhythm proposed by the entrances and exits made by the characters.
How to write an entremés?
According to everything seen above, we will see how to write an entremés from scratch. Let’s start:
Identify the theme
The first step is to identify the theme and the aspect we want to develop in this short piece, where a minimum of three characters must be involved. To choose the central content of the entremés you should refer to central axes of human life, the constant struggle between good and evil, love or social issues, in fact the possibilities are many. Choose a situation that is of your interest and which you want to expose with a satirical tinge through the burlesque that allows you this type of dramatic piece.
It is important that you take into account the space and time in which the play takes place in order to set the context and the customs and traditions that take place there.
Describe the situation
Once you have chosen the theme, it is time to recreate it textually to observe its scope and the explorations that your characters can make there. Describe the situation according to the space where it will take place, the time and the elements that should be printed in it. If it is going to be in the square, such as a social denunciation, then you must identify the type of format required for it to take place there.
Choose the characters
Having done the above, the situation, the environment and the space in which it will be recreated will allow us to identify who will be the characters, especially according to the chosen theme where values such as innocence, justice and non-justice, among many others, are properly represented by characters and figures that bring these elements to the scene.
Avoid the agglomeration of characters, but keep in mind that according to the description of the second point, the characters may vary, because if for example you handle the theme in the square, then the frequent figures such as women, merchants, etc. should appear there.
Now that you have all these elements ready, it is time to start writing the entremés. To do this, make a short description of the location space and start with the theme that will be built from the dialogues of each of the characters. Make sure that in the construction of them, each one has the characteristics that identify them, as well as their ways of speaking and how they interpret each aspect.
Revise and correct
Once you have finished, proofread the text. Remember that this piece should be short, have a popular language according to the context and the time on which it is built and that it can be easily understood by the audience creating jokes and in general, an entertaining composition.
To explore much more about this dramatic subgenre, don’t forget how important it is to read works by industry references. So you can go to the following section where we leave you a list of the greatest exponents of the entremés throughout history and a fragment of an entremés.
Among the most important authors, Miguel de Cervantes is one of the main representatives of the entremés, but there are also other authors such as Francisco de Quevedo, Lope de Vega, Luis Quiñones de Benavente, Juan Ignacio González del Castillo, Alonso de Castillo Solórzano, Antonio de Zamora, Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza, Manuel de León Marchante, Agustín Moreto, Francisco de Castro, Jerónimo de salas Barbadillo, Jerónimo de Cáncer, Luis Vélez de Guevara, among others.
Example of an entremés
The following is an excerpt from the play “Juez de los Divorcios”, written by Miguel de Cervantes.
Judge: If this arbitration could or should be put into practice, and for money, it would have been done already; but specify more, madam, the occasions that move you to ask for a divorce.
Mariana: The winter of my husband and the spring of my age; the taking away my sleep, for getting up in the middle of the night to warm cloths and sacks of bran to put on his flank; the putting on him, either this, or that ligature, that bound I may see him tied to a stick for justice; the care I take to put him at night at the head of the bed, soothing syrups, so that he doesn’t choke in the chest; and being obliged to suffer the bad smell in his mouth, which makes him smell bad with three arquebus shots.
Escribano: It must be from some rotten tooth.
Old man: It can’t be, because the devil take the tooth or the tooth I have in all of it.
Procurator: Well, there is a law that says, as I have heard it said, that by the bad smell of the mouth alone the wife of the husband, and the husband of the wife, can be discovered.
Old man: In truth, gentlemen, the bad breath that she says I have is not caused by my rotten molars, for I do not have them, nor does it come from my stomach, which is very healthy, but by the bad intention of her breast. Your Lordships do not know this lady well, for I am sure that if they knew her, they would fast or sanctify her.