Adrià Gual (Barcelona 1872-1943), who was a playwright, poet and painter, was one of the most innovative Catalan theatre writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a theatre and film director, he synthesised the different arts with the aim of achieving the total spectacle.
He started out as a painter but soon gave his attention to theatre. The influence of French symbolism and, above all, of the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck marked his first stage as a playwright. Nocturn. Andante. Morat (Nocturne: Andante in Purple, 1896) and Silenci (Silence, 1898) are two of the most representative works of this period of his life. However, lack of public interest in this type of theatre increasingly alienated him from the "decadent" turn-of-the-century aesthetics. Although the presence of symbolist elements would remain in works such as La culpable (The Guilty Woman, 1899), his theatre steadily acquired a more realist tone. Misteri de dolor (Mystery of Pain, 1904), considered by Gual to be a "drama of the world" was his first great success. This work, which was translated into several languages, inaugurated a new phase that was notable for its naturalist dramas such as La fi de Tomàs Reynald (The End of Tomàs Reynald, 1905). Later, adopting a more social line of theatre, he wrote Els pobres menestrals (Poor Artisans, 1908) in the style of Gerhart Hauptmann. He also wrote comedies in keeping with the European theatrical tradition, for example La comèdia extraordinària de l'home que va perdre el temps (The Extraordinary Comedy of the Man Who Lost Time, 1914), La família de l'Arlequí (The Harlequin's Family, 1926) and La mentidera (The Lying Woman, 1929). His versatile personality led him to engage in a range of cultural activities, which, however, meant that his production as a playwright suffered.
Gual created and directed the company Teatre Íntim (1898-1927) with the aim of modernising Catalan theatre. Later, commissioned by the Mancomunitat (a federation of the four Catalan Provincial Councils), he founded the Escola Catalana d'Art Dramàtic (Catalan School of Dramatic Art, 1913-1934). He was also an outstanding representative of the early years of cinema in Catalonia.
His poetry is along pre-Raphaelite lines, both the Llibre d'hores (Book of Hours, 1899) and in the posthumous anthology that appeared in 1949.
Web page: Francesc Viñas for AELC.
Photograph: BATLLE I JORDÀ, Carles (i altres): Adrià Gual. Mitja vida de modernisme. Barcelona: Edicions de la Diputació de Barcelona, 1992.
Translation: Julie Wark.