Subgenres within theater can be divided into majors (tragedy, drama and comedy) and minors (auto sacramental, sainete and entremés); the former are complex representations, divided into several acts, while the latter generally consist of a single act and last a short time.
The word sainete is used to identify pieces that are framed in the dramatic genre, have humorous content and that are developed in a single act.
In ancient times, these works were carried out during an intermediate cut or after the end of a function. It should be noted that this word is also used to name the play, usually with comic characteristics, that has a popular setting and characters and that is organized into one or more acts, as an independent staging.
For example: “Next weekend a sainete directed by Héctor Gozniak will premiere at the Teatro del Pueblo”, “A beggar, a street vendor and a prostitute are the protagonists of the sainete that was awarded the Prize of Excellence”, “I don’t like sainetes, I prefer tragedies”.
The sainete is considered to be a theatrical subgenre that replaced the side dish during the century XVIII. This work had a strong humorous tinge and reflected the ideas and popular customs.
Some authors who excelled especially in this genre were the Álvarez Quintero and Carlos Arniches Brothers, who knew how to lead the stage a much more lively show and with a colloquial language that allowed us to see everyday Madrid reflected in a work.
The fundamental characteristics of the genre are to show a light expressiveness represented in a popular environment and extremely realistic; It also had a documentary value, faithfully showing how a certain society lived and thought and above all, it showed the importance of identifying with the homeland and joining others in the same nationalist fervor.
On the other hand, they were works that lacked artifice on stage because they were considered smaller than the large works, but this, while making them simpler, also brought them closer to the people and made them look more spontaneous and fresh.
With the passage of time the sainete was incorporating elements of other genres such as the Operetta and melodrama, combining humor, morality, songs and dances.
The sainetes were very common during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they were substitutes for hors d’oeuvres, another minor work that also served as support for major works. Some of its main representatives were Luis Moncín, Juan Ignacio González del Castillo, Antonio Furmento Bazo, and Gaspar Zavala y Zamora.
At the end of the 19th century this subgenus crossed the ocean and began to be cultivated in the Río de la Plata, so much so that it was the one that gave rise to another subgenus the grotesque creole, similar to the sainete in irony and folkloric tinge but with a more dramatic and gloomy character and that represented the customs of these coasts. Armando Discépolo was one of its fundamental authors.
It is interesting to add that the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) recognizes other meanings for the notion of sainete. Depending on the institution, it can be a snack that is pleasant to the taste or palate, a mild and delicate flavor, a sauce that complements some delicacies to improve its flavor, a thing that serves to enhance the merit of something, or a special ornamentation on dresses.