History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Latin American Pre-WWII
Of note in early 20th century Latin-American drama is "En familia" (In the family, 1905) by Florencio Sánchez (1875-1910), born in Uruguay but whose plays were first presented in Argentina. A provident son lies in despair when his improvident family attempts to eke out a miserable life.
"In the drama, "In the family", the author ventilates the problem through an irresponsible family consisting of Don Jorge, a cynical gambler absolutely lacking in will power, his resigned wife, their two frivolous and spendthrift daughters, and their younger sons, Eduardo and Tomasito. Damian, another son who has succeeded in life and is happily married, returns...[but is] disillusioned completely and dejected by his inability to improve his family's lot" (Ramirez, 1966 p 588). Shedd (1936) pointed out that "In the family" resembles in many ways Brieux' "Betting results" (1898), dealing with the evils of gambling among the laboring classes. "The weakness of the father for the races and gambling brings about the family disaster. The mother attempts to shield both father and son. The son tries to arrange things. The catastrophe hinges upon the entrusting of a sum of money for an identical purpose. The father uses the money for payment of a gambling debt and in a vain attempt to cover his losses. The characters of Arsene and Don Jorge are the same even to such details as the telling of evident falsehoods in order to obtain money to satisfy the desire for gambling. Neither has any ambition, nor does either one try to overcome his weakness. Neither is willing to work though given the opportunity. And to the very end, each recognizes his weakness and shows his shame in a similar manner, fearing, because of shame, to face his son when finally returning home. Victor and Damian are also parallel in character. Each is enough of an idealist to feel himself strong enough and capable of reforming the father and of rescuing the family. Each is ready to sacrifice his own future and happiness, and that of his sweetheart or wife for the sake of the family. Each scolds his father and obtains as a result a confession of the latter's inability to assert his own will" (pp 423-424).
"In the family"
Time: 1900s. Place: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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Ocuna family members prepare to receive for dinner Damian, the eldest son, along with his wife, Delfina, but his mother, Mercedes, worries that they have no money to pay for it. Eduardo, her younger son, is no help, specifying he does not like work and is determined to live unashamedly as their parasite. She hopes her husband, Jorge, will arrive with money: vain hope! "I don't have a radish," he admits, having gambled it all away. She is forced to ask Damian to pay for his own dinner and, on the same occasion, exposes the true state of their finances. Damian admonishes his father for being so improvident. "One takes a pick to work the earth," he urges, but the father prefers to gamble than to work. In this desperate situation, Damian proposes to take charge of the entire family. He asks everyone to contribute except his father, but is discouraged by what he sees. After asking his sister, Laura, to type a brochure for him and waiting for a reasonable amount of time, she admits she has not done it yet. He scolds her. "Here's the couch-grass in the salad!" she replies and wanders negligently off. One day, Delfina notices that her ring is missing. Eduardo reveals that his younger brother, Tomas, pawned it, but it is retrieved by the mother. After spending the night out, Jorge returns back home. When Mercedes asks him where he was, he answers he does not know, but needs money. Without her knowing about it, Damian asks his father to take out money from his bank account for the sake of a friend of his. Meanwhile, Laura orders an expensive dress for herself. When Damian learns of this, he says he cannot pay for it, but then changes his mind. On learning of the money transaction, Mercedes already weeps in fear that her husband has stolen it for gambling. All too true. Unable to pay, Damian tells his father he will call the police, at which Jorge leaves without a word. "O, Delfina, I want to cry, to yell with pain," Damian says. "Yes, cry, my poor Don Quixote!" his wife replies consolingly.
Mexican theatre of the 20th century began with a strong rural drama: "La venganza de la gleba" (The vengeance of the rabble, 1905) by Federico Gamboa (1864-1939).
"The vengeance of the rabble"
Time: 1900s. Place: Mexico.
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