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CATCOM. Las comedias y sus representantes: base de datos de comedias mencionadas en la documentación teatral (1540-1700)


When gathering and working with the extensive information that the Spanish theatrical documentation of the times offers us, we find the titles of numerous plays. The objective of our project is to collect, classify and critically analyze this information on the titles of plays, and make it available to researchers in the form of a database. This resource will allow them to access a calendar of performances, to locate titles and relate them to alternative titles and adaptations, and to offer a state of the question on their authorship.

In this sense, the following are some of the possible uses of the database:
  1. In relation to the edition and study of theatrical texts: researchers will be able to check if there is information on older performances of a play, determine on what dates they are documented, or how many times we know they were put on stage, in what places and in front of what type of public. These matters can be relevant when determining the date of a play, the success it enjoyed at the time, and the companies that included it in their repertoires, and its influence.
  2. The creation of a calendar of performances documented during the period will allow us to get a general idea of the success of certain plays and authors during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and their continued influence over the years. Currently, we do not have a broad perspective that, based on documents and statistical data, would allow researchers to make these types of assessments of authors or plays, or of the most successful genres, or of the type of public that enjoyed them. Our project will facilitate the study of these and other similar matters.
  3. Our third objective is related to the complex matter of attributions of plays at that time. Many documents we consider for our research do not attribute the plays mentioned to any playwrights; or incorrectly attribute works to playwrights who were not, in fact, the authors; or mention plays with an alternative or incomplete title. The team is working on clarifying these problems by examining catalogues of plays, both published and manuscript, together with editions and specific studies of the works of individual playwrights, a process which allows us to link a title mentioned in the documentation with specific plays and playwrights. Though it is beyond our scope to solve all problems of authorship related to plays (since that would require specific studies of a different nature), we aspire to make it easier for researchers to begin their own work by offering an updated state-of-the-question on the attributions of each play and by differentiating, whenever it is possible, authentic or probable attributions from erroneous ones.


Our experience with the development of databases in the project Diccionario biográfico de actores del teatro clásico español (DICAT), has led us to use this same type of research instrument, which allows for documenting a vast network of connections. This kind of tool facilitates for the division and organization of information, and greatly improves the ability to associate all the information included, thus helping researchers formulate their own queries.
Currently, the database is designed to suit the team's needs during the pre-publication phase of the project. Upon completion, we will tailor the interface to the type of searches that will be performed by potential users.

Below, we offer examples of our database's components, which will allow for a better understanding of our research in its current state.

The first image, shows the list of entries of main titles included in the database (as of today this number is close to 1500). To the left of the image we find the list and, to the right, the initials of the researchers who are working on these entries, plus the state of the work (ongoing, finished, reviewed once, reviewed twice).

listado de registros


The second image shows all the sections and fields that form an entry. Each entry has two main sections:

  1. In the top part of the image we find the first section, which we call CHRONOLOGY. Here we break down and analyze the information that is used to compose the calendar of performances, which can be seen at the right side of the window.
  2. In the bottom part of the image we find the second section, which we call ATTRIBUTION. Here we offer the information related to the state-of-the-question concerning the attribution(s) of the specific play.

Cronología y Atribución


The third image shows a closer view of the CHRONOLOGY section, together with the news on performances that it contains. Each performance recorded can be read in its integrity in the field 'Noticia cronología' ('Chronology information'). Information on each performance is classified further through the fields of 'Lugar' ('Location'), 'Espacio' ('Space'), 'Autor' ('Head of company') and 'Fecha de representación' ('Performance date'). In the field 'Referencia bibliográfica' ('Bibliographic references') we include that sources from which we have taken the information.



The fourth image shows with greater detail the section of ATTRIBUTION, together with the different fields that make it up. For researchers, work on this section involves looking up several catalogues, bibliographic repertoires and old testimonies that allows them to critically determine the state-of-the-question on the attribution of the play, which is presented in the field 'Noticia atribución' ('Attribution information'). As with the section of CHRONOLOGY, information is broken down in order to fill several fields. The field called 'Dramaturgo' ('Playwright') shows the name of the playwright or playwrights who have been associated with the authorship of the play. In the field 'Otros títulos relacionados' ('Other related titles') we include modified or alternative titles that are also associated with a play. In the field 'Referencia bibliográfica' ('Bibliographic references') we include the sources used for our research.


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