Venezuela Theater and Cinema
(República Bolivariana de Venezuela). State of South America (916,445 km²). Capital: Caracas. Administrative division: States (23), Federal District (1), Federal Dependencies. Population: 28.946.101 residents (2011). Language: Spanish. Religion: Catholics 84.5%, Protestants 4%, others 11.5%. Monetary unit: bolívar (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.764 (67th place). Borders: Antillean Sea and Atlantic Ocean (N), Guyana (E), Brazil (S), Colombia (W). Member of: Mercosur, OAS, UN, OPEC and WTO.
According to 800zipcodes, the history of the Venezuelan theater actually begins in the second half of the century. XIX: previously (until 1566) there had been sacred performances in cathedrals, comedy performances on improvised stages in the squares, performances in private homes. In the second half of the nineteenth century, many theaters opened, especially in Caracas, hosting Spanish touring companies and local ensembles, also representing texts by Venezuelan authors. However, there was not much of significance. In 1914 a new genus was introduced, the sainete criollo, a sort of comedy of costume; in 1938 L. Peraza founded the Compañía Venezolana de Dramas y Comedias; in 1942 the Sociedad Amigos del Teatro was born for the training of authors and playwrights; in 1945 a Teatro de Negros was established. However, these initiatives remained isolated and were generally short-lived. An important step forward was made in 1954 with the foundation of the Sociedad Venezolana de Teatro, promoted by the Uruguayan director H. Peterson and the Argentine actress J. Sujo, which brought together the most significant experimental groups. The Venezuelan Theater Festival, which has been held at intervals, since 1959, has been the gym for new actors and authors, to which, since 1976, the Festival Internacional de Teatro has been added, which takes place in the main Caracas halls. L’ Professional theatrical activity is however concentrated above all in the capital, with some permanent companies, such as the Nuevo Grupo, whose production activity however ceased at the end of the 1980s, and the Ateneo de Caracas, plus another half a dozen independent formations. Within the national framework, two “popular theater” organizations should also be mentioned, the Asociación Venezolana de Teatro Popular and the Teatro para Obreros. In the theater of the twentieth century we distinguish R. Pineda, A. Certad, R. Chalbaud (b. 1933) and I. Chocrón (b. 1932), as well as the young P. Williams, José G. Núñez and R. Santana.
In 1897 the pioneer MT Durán (1871-1933) presented two short films he made in “vitascope” in Maracaibo. The short film Carnaval en Caracas by AG Vidal and MA Gonhom dates back to 1909, remade by them in 1911. The first feature film, La dama de las cayenas by E. Zimmerman, parody of the Lady with the camellias, dates back to 1913 . But much of the silent production has been lost, and only recently have historians attempted to reconstruct it. The sound came late, in 1937-38, and the 1940s production was generally low-level, with few exceptions: Juan de la Calle (1941) by R. Rivero, on an abandoned child, La escalinata (1950) by C. Enríquez, with a neorealistic tone. In 1950 in Cannes the co-production with Argentina La balandra Isabel llegó esta tarde by CH Christensen was awarded for photography, and in 1959 the documentary Araya by M. Benacerraf. In the 1960s a quantitative development was reached (3-4 feature films per year), but a notable cultural progress took place only in the militant and denouncing short films due to C. Rebolledo (author of a book on L. Buñuel), J. Guédez, IA Roche and others. The birth of the magazine Cine al dia and the 1st Latin American Festival of Mérida (1968) were also positive signs. There was also a professional turning point with the first films by R. Chalbaud, C. de la Cerda, D. Oropeza and others. A boom commercial followed in the following decade after the triumph of audiences obtained by Mexican director M. Wallerstein’s Cuando quiero llorar no lloro (1973). More than thirty films were produced in three years (1974-76). The directors already mentioned were confirmed: Chalbaud, Wallerstein, Oropeza, de la Cerda. But several new names have also established themselves, even in the short film, such as J. Cortés who in 1983, at Cannes, presented Caballo salvage. Venezuelan cinema of the new millennium counts, among others, on names such as Alberto Arvelo (b.1966), director and producer (Una vida y dos mandados, 2001, awarded in New York; Cyrano Fernández, 2007), Diego Rísquez (n. 1949; Manuela Saenz, 2000), Fina Torres (b. 1951; Woman on Top, 2000, Un Té en La Habana, 2008), Jonathan Jakubowicz (b.1978, Secuestro express, 2005).