Bances’ Theatro de los theatros is, without question, an exceedingly odd work of expository prose. However, there are reasons we should try to understand what Bances is up to if we want to understand early modern Spanish drama better, both from a historical perspective and from the perspective of performance. This is because Bances’ real object is the nature of theatrical representation and the nature of what, exactly, is embodied through performance. Bances does not argue that theater is a mirror of life, or that theater is life as it might be, or that theater indicates the reality of something true beyond itself. Instead, Bances says that the staging of a play manifests physically the physical reality of the universe.

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