Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
spanish masthead
Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Fall 2004


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46825 W
6:30 PM-9:30 AM
BEN 1.124

Course Description

Can the play, the representation itself, replace the text? This question, posed by Peter Brook, reveals the development of dramatic theory in twentieth-century Spain. Benavente, like Shaw, was interested in ideas and society. His conception of drama is that of realism in which theater is primarily text. Dialogue and plot redominate and produce an intellectual, often didactid drama. Benavente come close to writing tragedy in La malquerida. Yet, as Ramón Sender has written, dramatic tragedy often takes on unexpected dimensions in Spain. Students in this course will decide how and why this is. If Benavente admired and learned from European theater, Valle-Inclán turned inward and reinvented a kind of farce very much his own—the esperpento. In Divinas Palabras, Rosa de papel, Ligazón, and Los cuernos de don Friolera, dramatic text recedes and the play as spectacle emerges. The alienated, dialectical characters of these modern farces, which include a dog and a parrot, have no life or language of their own. Many of them are puppets with which Valle-Inclán represents the experience of mute futility. Thus the esperpento predates the major development in European theater that evolves almost twenty years later, the theater of the absurd. Between realism and esperpentismo lies the theater of García Lorca, among the richest dramatic achievements in the history of Spanish drama. Lorca is a poet in the theater. But after his early Modernist beginnings, he both learns from Valle-Inclán in his farces, La zapatera prodigiosa and El amor de don Perlimplín, and adapts realism in his last plays, Dona Rosita la soltera and Las casa de Bernarda Alba. In these works, text is trampoline that foregrounds theatrical spectacle. This delicate harmony between text and play collapses in works of Fernando Arrabal and Francisco Nieva, who gives indigenous Spanish form to absurdist drama. In Los dos verdugos, El laberinto, and El cementerio de los automóviles, plot, dialog, and text self-destruct, and text becomes gesture. The dramatic irony of these works helps retain their fresh dramatic and creative force, in spite of their radical alienation.

Grading Policy

Class participation 20% I oral report 20% Oral presentation of final paper 20% Final exam OR Term paper 40%


Benavente: Los intereses creados; La malquerida Valle-Inclán: Divinas palabras, Ligazón, Rosa de papel, Los cuernos de don Friolera García Lorca: La zapatera prodigiosa, El amor de don Perlimplín; Bodas de sangre, La casa de Benanda Alba, Doña Rosita la soltera Arrabal: Los dos verdugos, El laberinto, El cementerio de automóviles CRITICAL WORKS: Ruiz Ramón, Historia del teatro español, v.2 José Monleón, Treinta años de teatro de la derecha. Martin Esslin, The Theater of the Absurd Angel Berenguer, El teatro de Fernando Arrabal Teatro español contemporáneo: Autores y tendencias. Floeck, Wilfred ed. Pavis, Patrice, Theater at the Crossroads. Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception Iser, W. The Fictive and the Imaginary.


bottom border