Los artistas de la feria y de la calle: Espectáculos marginales en la Nueva España (1519-1822)

The artists of the fair and the street: marginal shows in New Spain (1519-1822)

Prologue: Maya Ramos Smith; Jesús Calzada

México, 2010
296 p.

As part of the long winded research by Maya Ramos Smith on performing arts in New-Spanish Mexico, The Artists of the Fair and the Street: Marginal Shows in New Spain (1519-1822) offers us a wide view on the several popular and marginal shows presented first in Mexico City —seat of the viceroy court, and of the spiritual and worldly powers in New Spain— and then with the tours of comedians all through the regions of New Spain. Always monitored and regulated by the civil authorities, often persecuted and condemned by the church and the inquisition, “the tale of these modest street roaming artists sheds a light on interesting aspects of the history of popular culture, on the society and the mindset during the period of the vice-royalty”, the author tells us. Actors, all kinds of acrobats, dancers, mimes, musicians, animal tamers, clowns, little people, puppeteers, stage magicians and even (right on the outskirts of vagrancy, loitering or illegality) quacks and con-men, freaks and amputees: research draws a great map of the daily workings of these professional activities and illustrates, through examples, anecdotes and study cases, the nature of performances, their skills and techniques and also the standards ruling its relationship with authority, the public and its own community. Out of the list of contents: I. “Background. Two Traditions: Pre-Hispanic and European”; II. “Regulation and Censorship”; III. “The Artistic Life”; IV. “The Society”; V. “The Church”. The annexes include a chronologically set guide to locate the documents, a chapter with document sources in files, bibliography and newspaper published material, as well as a name index.