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The Theatre of Antonio Buero Vallejo: Ideology, Politics and Censorship

The Theatre of Antonio Buero Vallejo: Ideology, Politics and Censorship

Catherine O’Leary
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdnxh
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  • Book Info
    The Theatre of Antonio Buero Vallejo: Ideology, Politics and Censorship
    Book Description:

    This monograph examines the complex relationship between Antonio Buero Vallejo (1916 - 2000) and the ideologies of Francoist and post-Franco Spain. The central focus of the study is Buero's political theatre and his employment of myth and history to challenge the notion of an España eterna. It also considers Buero's creation of his own myths and his revision of history in order to rationalize and justify his own stance. In his determination to write and stage committed drama in a repressive society, Buero's choice, with its inherent contradictions and ambiguities, was posibilismo. This book looks at this pragmatic employment of language and silence, both in his art and in his dealings with the censors and with other representatives of the hegemony and analyses how posibilismo both aided and limited him. The monograph also considers Buero's neglected post-Franco theatre, examining the reasons for its initial negative reception and its renewed importance in today's Spain. In these days of digging up the past, Buero's post-Franco insistence on rejecting the pacto de olvido is perhaps more relevant than ever before. CATHERINE O'LEARY lectures in Spanish at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-433-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Antonio Buero Vallejo, who died on 28 April 2000, was the most important Spanish dramatist of the post-Civil War period. In his long career as a playwright, Buero published thirty original plays. Only three of these have never been performed.² This book focuses on the committed dramas and therefore has little to say about certain plays such asEl terror inmóvil, La señal que se espera(1952),Madrugada(1953),Hoy es fiesta(1955),Irene, o el tesoro(1954) andUna extraña armonía, which do not deal with the themes of history, myth and ideology and contain only very limited social...

  5. 1 The Ideology of Francoism
    (pp. 5-50)

    There is no agreed definition of the Francoist ideology. It was more than simple illusion or false consciousness, and it did not merely falsify reality to reflect the values of the dominant group. It was more than symbol and myth; it contained lived elements in the discourse between politics and society.¹ It was also the signs and values infused with certain motivated meanings in this discourse. It necessarily comprised both truth and myth. The presence of myth was the inevitable result of manipulating particular, often commonly held, values in an attempt to legitimate or rationalize certain self-serving political actions; the...

  6. 2 Language and Silence
    (pp. 51-67)

    Unsurprisingly, theatre of agitation propaganda does not exist to any great extent in the post-war Francoist period. The successful establishment of the New State, and its longevity, ensured that the audience for agit-prop theatre was reduced, if not entirely eliminated. Many of those who had been at the forefront of the theatre of agitation movement were dead, imprisoned or exiled in the aftermath of the Nationalist victory. Those who remained were unwilling or unable to mount a similar challenge to the new regime. Not only that, but in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, as London notes, the theatre...

  7. 3 Buero Vallejo and Theatre Censorship
    (pp. 68-111)

    Spanish drama was seriously affected by the ideological cultural state apparatus of censorship. While censorship under Franco was not wholly effective, it did cause great difficulties, particularly for the committed dramatist who wished to give testament to a reality other than that prop agated by the officials of the regime. The use of censorship as a protector of ideology is evident from the questions posed on an early censor’s report on publications:

    1. ¿Ataca al dogma?

    2. ¿A la moral?

    3. ¿A la Iglesia o a sus ministros?

    4. ¿Al Régimen y a sus instituciones?

    5. ¿A las personas que colaboran o han colaborado con...

  8. 4 Posibilismo
    (pp. 112-139)

    One of the principal reasons for Buero’s enduring success under Franco was his willingness to compromise. Whether this compromise was admirable or not has long been cause for debate, and the fact remains that the essence of Buero’s wellknownposibilismois concession. Hisposibilismoencompassed not only the style and themes of his theatre, but also his dealings with the censors, the theatre directors and the media. Henceposibilismowas what enabled him to deal effectively with the state apparatuses of Francoism.

    It can be argued that all, or almost all, of the authors who chose to remain and work...

  9. 5 History, Myth and Demythification
    (pp. 140-171)

    Much of the use of myth and history in Spanish twentieth-century literature was born of an abuse of the same by the dominant group in society; the regime used history as ‘a legitimator of action and cement of group cohesion’.² As Elizabeth S. Rogers commented, ‘It is this official version of History (with its capital H) which sets the standards of behaviour and thus becomes the basis of role definition in society, as much in the past as in the present.’³ In his employment of history, Buero’s aim was to reclaim its logical trajectory and to deny the Nationalist–Falangist...

  10. 6 Ideology in Buero Vallejo’s Theatre
    (pp. 172-199)

    In many of his non-historical plays, Buero dealt quite directly with political and ideological themes, in particular, the morality of violence, but also the defence and legitimation of ideology, the role of the intellectual in society and the question of rebellion and revolution. This is most obvious inLa Fundación, La doble historia del doctor Valmy, El tragaluzandEn la ardiente oscuridad. Buero’s personal ideology could be classed an ethical socialism and was determined by his relationship with the dominant and alternative ideologies operating in society. He consistently defended socialism as a means of organizing society, and this concern...

  11. 7 Theatre and the Transition to Democracy
    (pp. 200-220)

    In the years immediately prior to Franco’s death, civil unrest in Spain had grown, and those demanding reform were supported by a large proportion of the population, including some members of the previously uncommitted bourgeoisie and also some Catholic clergy. When he died, many felt that it was time for a break with the past and a commitment to democracy. Nonetheless, despite expectations to the contrary, the transition from dictatorship to democracy was orchestrated from the right rather than imposed by the left. Although the transition to a more democratic form of government seemed to have been relatively smooth, it...

  12. 8 The Post-Franco Theatre of Buero Vallejo
    (pp. 221-248)

    It could be argued that once the transition to democracy had begun, Buero Vallejo and other writers of the opposition had no focus for their committed literature. The notion that the committed writers were somehow out of date, however, rests on the belief that post-Franco Spain was an open, liberated, ideology-free society. Buero disagreed and continued to use his theatre to deliver a critique of society. While it is undeniable that, after the end of Francoism, the central focus for his denunciations was no longer there, Buero did not redefine his role in the light of the transition but rather...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 249-258)

    Buero, like others before him, took the view that: ‘Vivimos tiempos muy difíciles, en los cuales no puede uno hablar ni callar sin peligro’ (O.C. II: 1291). A prudent man, he chose to address the issue of language and silence withposibilismo, insisting that this form of protest was a valid one, the alternatives being silence, collusion or exile. Language and silence were the main constituents of the writer’s relationship with the ideological tool of censorship, yet Buero insisted: ‘Considerar la censura como fenómeno absolutamente castrador es una inexactitud. De haberlo sido, es obvio que nadie habría podido hacer nada’...

  14. List of Plays
    (pp. 259-260)
  15. List of Appendices
    (pp. 261-298)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-317)
  17. Index
    (pp. 318-328)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 329-329)