History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Latin American Post-WWII
Notable examples of playwriting expertise from Latin America include "El cuadrante de la Soledad" (Solitude Street, 1950) by José Revueltas (1914-1976) "Ante varias esfinges" (Before some types of sphinx, 1956) by Jorge Ibargüengoitia (1928-1983), both from Mexico, and "La Nona" (Nona, 1977) by Roberto Cossa (1934-?) from Argentina.
"Solitude Street". Time: 1940s. Place: Mexico.
Kity, a waitress at the Shanghai cafe, speaks on the phone to Eduardo, seeking to help her morphine addiction by sending her to a disintoxication clinic. Parches, a barrel-organ player, and his female-friend, Piedad, discuss the rumor that Ruperto, a drug-dealing friend of Malena, proprietess of the "Solitude Hotel", will be killed by Lopez. Piedad expresses the opinion that this act, from their viewpoint, will only be "changing fear", from fear of Ruperto to fear of Lopez. Enrique, a college professor, and Alicia, a student, ask for a room at the hotel. To avoid his being ostracized by colleagues, Eduardo saved Enrique's reputation by taking the blame when the couple were almost discovered by Prospero, director of the college. Alfonso, of Chinese origin, proprietor of the cafe, pretends to help Kity's distress, but injects her with morphine. The cynical Alfonso observes: "We're all lost. The secret consists of losing one's self joyfully." Malena learns that Ruperto is involved in a shady deal with the police. There is a workers' strike, and, to put the blame on the union leaders and to imprison them, the police plan to use Lopez to burn a warehouse. Malena tries to convince Columbina, an extravagant prostitute who has seen better days, to go to the hospital for the sake of her health, but she declines. Evaristo, father to Alicia, meets his old friend, Prospero, to oust Eduardo and Enrique away from the city, because he disapproves of her daughter's relations. Ruperto confesses to his old lover, Margara, that he is plotting the death of Lopez, her former husband, asking her to escape with him, but she refuses, planning instead to leave with Kid Pancho, also involved in the drug trade. Ruperto is playing a double game, since in addition to his deal with the police, he has a second one with the strikers, telling them that Kid Pancho is to set fire to the warehouse, whereby they should kill him. But to Ruperto's dismay, Malena announces the arrival of Kid Pancho, whom she knows is come to kill Ruperto by preventing his contact with Lopez, and so liable to be murdered by the police for double-crossing them. Lopez learned of Ruperto's betrayal from the strikers, as, unknown to Ruperto, he had deals with them himself. Ruperto is stuck, being prevented to leave by Kid Pancho. To help her lover now in dire straits, Malena proposes to set fire to the warehouse herself, which Ruperto agrees to. Meanwhile, Columbina discovers the dead body of Eduardo, who has hanged himself for having sacrificed his career for Kity's sake, whereby Kity blames her father and Prospero. An explosion is heard. The police rush in, telling Ruperto that everything went smoothly, a dead body, Lopez, it is presumed, being found on the premises. But Ruperto confesses that Lopez never showed up, the dead body likely being Malena's.
"Before some types of sphinx"
"Before some types of sphinx". Time: 1954. Place: Mexico City, Mexico.
Marcos, a seventy-year-old grandfather, is dying, although his wife, Aurelia, assures him that the doctor said nothing is wrong. He does not believe it. Being unable even to see the hands on a clock, he recognizes at least he is growing blind. Suspecting death near, his sister, Beatriz, has asked Marta to come over and forget ten years of estrangement with their father. In dire straits after losing his job, his son, Alejandro, asks him for a loan. He agrees to give him a cheque the following day. Beatriz' son, Isidro, is dissatisfied with the adulterous relations he entertains with Teresa, wife to his brother, Carlos. "You define me by my faults," Isidro accuses her, but in his weakness still clings to her. Marcos greets his sister, Elena, by asking whether her husband still beats her, although he has been dead for eight years, he himself having bought the coffin. After hesitating a little, he agrees to see Marta, telling her they must talk the next day. Marta informs Beatriz that she would like to bring over to the family home her eldest daughter, to prevent her from becoming a poor village girl as a result of her father's laziness and stupidity. Beatriz agrees, but informs her in turn that other than the value of the house there is no money left. The next morning, Isidro arises dispirited: "Another day to sully?" he wonders. Beatriz warns Isidro and Teresa to be careful about not revealing too plainly the nature of their relation. Isidro admits to Carlos, back from working on his farm, that, although he has been a bad brother to him, he nevertheless loves him. Carlos is also depressed. "Every time I get up, I ask myself: "What will I do today?" I answer: "Wait for the day to pass,"" he says. Aurelia shows Elena dried-up bouquets of flowers she received from Marcos many years ago. Elena replies that the best night she has ever spent was when her husband threw her out of the house and she had to sleep in the garden. "The night was magnificent, full of stars," she remembers. Marta receives a telegram from her husband, informing her that he is vomiting blood. She wants to leave him, asking Beatriz for a loan to bring over her two daughters, but since her sister has no money, she asks her father instead, who accepts. Carlos and Teresa have nothing to say to each other. After her husband leaves, Alejandro flirts with her, but is rejected. His wife, Rosa, informs him that Carlos insolently slapped her buttocks. Without warning Marcos dies. To save their marriage, Beatriz tries to convince Carlos to go off alone with his wife. Now that the money is lost, Rosa blames her husband for not requesting the loan sooner. Carlos tries to follow his mother's advice, but gives up. Beatriz next tries to get Isidro away, but he refuses. Instead, Carlos decides to go away at a vague destination. Marta must also leave, to return to her husband because he refuses to let her daughters go.
"La Nona". Time: 1970s. Place: Argentina.
Maria thinks her sister-in-law, Anyula, pampers too much her nephew, Chico, who is supposed to be composing tangos but has achieved nothing, a parasite living at the expense of his brother and her husband, Carmelo. Another reason to worry concerns the doings of her daughter, Marta, who often works all night long at a pharmacy. Her husband, Carmelo, arrives laden with vegetables from his stall at the market-place. He despondently notes that the family is losing money every month, the main reason being the feeding of two dependents: Chico and his demented Italian-speaking grandmother, Nona, a one hundred-year-old woman with a ravenous appetite. As a result, Carmelo insists that Chico accept a job as a fish-seller's clerk, but instead he proposes to take Nona to a doctor. Their talk is interrupted by Nona, who, because the light is still on at 10 PM, thinks it is morning and wants her breakfast. "Rondella dé mortadella, Carmelo, prego," she orders. Because such eating habits may be a sign of approaching death, Chico considers that she may have no more than one year to live. However, the doctors find no evidence of any physical ailment. To put off notions of his working for a living, a desperate Chico suggests that in view of the many perverts about, Nona may be used as a sexual bait for old men, but Carmelo refuses to consider that option. An even more desperate Chico takes Nona for a walk and abandons her in a public place, pretending to have lost her, but she succeeds in finding her way back. Undeterred, Chico has another scheme in mind: marry her off to Francisco, an eighty-year-old owner of a candy-shop, once Anyula's lover whose suit was denied by Nona many years ago. Chico succeeds in convincing Francisco that Nona is the owner of rich properties and that, to prevent her yielding all of them at her death to Anyula, they should seize them as her husband. Though suspicious, Francisco agrees. Her appetite ruins his finances and his health. When he suffers a stroke and becomes hemiplegic, the family have one more dependent to contend with. Carmelo loses his market-stall and is forced to work as a clerk to the fish-seller. Maria, Anyula, Chico, and Marta are also forced to work at poor-paying jobs. To get more money, Chico wheels Francisco to public places so that he can attract charity, but one day loses him. They are forced to sell most of their furniture as Nona continues to eat. More desperate than ever, Carmelo, Chico, and Maria consider stifling Nona with a heating apparatus, but she puts a pan on it and prepares eggs for herself. They next consider poisoning her, but let her go to her room without forcing her to drink. Unaware of their plan, Anyula drinks the potion and dies immediately. Conditions deteriorate rapidly. Carmelo drinks. Marta turns into a whore working in her own room. She gets sick and is sent to a hospital. Food being scarce, Nona starts to eat flowers. When Carmelo tries to take them away from her, he has a heart attack and dies. Maria decides to move away to her sisters' house, leaving Chico with Nona. Chico shoots himself while Nona, unaware of his demise, suggests food-items they need to buy.