Magical Realism in the Theatre
Magical realism (or magic realism) is a term first used in the art world by German critic Franz Roh (1925) and later in literature by Cuban author Alejo Carpentier (1949). It typically refers to the coexistence of the real and fantastical, the natural and the supernatural, the normal and magical worlds. In magical realism, elements of fantasy are not questioned.
Increasingly, playwrights are developing new works in this form and magical realism is becoming more common in the theatre. Plays of the genre may include:
- non-human characters
- characters with supernatural powers
- other worlds
- a sense of mystery
- eerie atmospheres
- extraordinary events unable to be explained by rational thought
- myths and legends
- unusual time shifts
- moments where the unreal becomes real
Importantly, in magical realism the fantastical and supernatural exist in a realistic setting and are accepted by other characters as normal. They coexist in a realistic world that would ordinarily make them irreconcilable.
Examples of magical realism in the theatre include Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America, Marisol by José Rivera, Sarah Ruhl’s play The Clean House and the works of José Cruz González.