Symbolist Theater – History, Development and Creation


What is the Symbolist Theater?

The Symbolist Theater was considered one of the most important artistic movements at the end of the XIX century, its origin comes from France and Belgium, which was created through a literary manifesto published in 1886, in which symbolism is declared as the enemy of declamation, teaching, false sensibility and objective description.

The symbolic theater seeks to represent an idea in a sensitive way, whose intentions are more associated with metaphysics, contains a distorted context of what is the objective description of ideas and expression, uses literary language as a cognitive element in his work, trying to impregnate the composition with a dense air of mysticism and mystery.

This type of theater tries to transmit to the public a different idea where the means of expression is composed of characters of synesthesia, including musicalities predominant over the verses expressed in the act.

Symbolism itself, was a literary manifestation against naturalism and realism, unlike its impact on poetry truly, the impact of symbolism in the theater was of minor importance, the intention to include the emphasis of the life of dreams and fantasies, did not have great acceptance by the critics of the time, however, there were several works that were very successful, such as the play Axel.

How does the Symbolist Theater develop?

As symbolism is born from a literary manifestation, it creates its bases from the contrasting characters of naturalism and realism, imposing spirituality, wide imagination and dreams as a primordial element of the verses, it is understood that the first writer to react with the symbolic movement was Charles Baudelaire.

The symbolists were anarchic from the point of view of contradicting the parameters set out in the perfect verse, so many symbolists were separating from this tree of ideas, creating their own school, symbolism was progressively inclined to be more hermetic, developing its own model with a freer versification, discarding the clarity and objectivity that presented the Parnassianism.

The symbolist theatricals considered that it was necessary to capture ideas that had absolute truths, whose method of obtaining was indirect and ambiguous, so the method of realization of the works was composed of ideas that contained a metaphorical and suggestive context, in addition to the kinesthetic elements that were used to capture the feelings of the public, such as music and sensitizing expression to the ideas presented in the theater.

Legacy of the Symbolist Theater

The legacy of the symbolic movement has been very representative in the world of the arts, in the theater it left an indelible mark in all its elements, from its literary compositions, from prose and narrative to its most representative subjective context, where its elements are of a more sensitive, metaphysical and ambiguous context to determine absolute truths of the nature of life and the perspective of art in front of this idea.

In addition, symbolism has left its influence on other branches of the arts, mainly in literature, the starting point where the compositions and content of theater, poetry, sculpture and painting are born.

What is the Symbolist Theater

Types of this Theater 

The types of symbolic theater have an impact on the different characteristics used for the play, since theater is usually a mixture of scenic and visual arts, there is the symbolic theater where the main emphasis is made on music and the context that this represents as a representative symbol in the play, as there is the theater where colors are included that bring a representative context.

The musical symbolic theater

Includes as its name indicates characteristic sounds that imply the representation of a symbol or concrete idea, in coordination with the ambiguous character that contains this model of theater, to represent an absolute truth through a representation that contains multiple synesthetic elements.

The colorful symbolic theater

Where a predominant use is made of colors to represent the work, these have multiple meanings rooted in a symbol or ideal in common, for example, in the arts red is used to show anger, passion, desire, energy, strength among several feelings that associate a strong character, even violent, pink on the contrary is used to demonstrate purity, innocence, love and so on with the other colors that influence in a predominant way in the colorful symbolic theater.

The gestural symbolic theater, includes all the work of gestures performed by the actors, this model tries to form predominantly artistic expression through movement and exaggeration of gestures to convey the ambiguous ideas present in the symbolic theater, of course the theater will always be accompanied by all its elements, such as costumes, music, lighting, colors, scenery among all other characteristic elements that make it up strictly under the word theater.

Representatives of this Theater

The representatives of the symbolist field not only covered the theater, these were predominantly poets and writers, who marked a vital starting point in the creation of symbolist theater, the most important precursors of symbolism are.

Charles Baudelaire, a renowned French poet, essayist and art critic known for his work The Flowers of Evil, however, the poet has hundreds of successful works very recognized in the world of symbolism.

The French-Uruguayan poet Isidore Lucien Ducasse, also known as the Count of Lautréamont, was a recognized precursor of surrealism, his works had an impact after his death.

Stéphane Mallarmé, a French poet and critic, considered one of the great poets of the 19th century.

Jean Moréas, a member of the symbolist movement, was a poet, critic, writer, novelist and essayist, responsible for creating the symbolist manifesto in 1886.

Germain Nouveau, a French poet recognized in the symbolist circle, known for contributing to the writing of Dixains réalistes, with a literary work where he criticized the Parnassians on a large scale.