History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Spanish Post-WWII

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Alfonso Sastre[edit]

Alfonso Sastre described the unhappy love affair of a philosophy student and an aimless woman

In the Spanish post World War II period, several playwrights emerged, including Alfonso Sastre (1926-?), author of "Ana Kleiber" (Anna Kleiber, 1955). Corrigan (1962) points out that “Anna Kleiber” (1955) features a couple unable to live apart and unable to live together. There is great excitement and togetherness in the initiation of love but not in its maintenance.

"Anna Kleiber"[edit]

Time: 1920-1940s. Place: Spain, Germany.

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Alfred, a philosophy student, encounters Anna, an actress about to jump off a bridge. He convinces her to abandon her thoughts of suicide to follow him. Although disgusted at the man, she once copulated with an impresario named Charles, in her words: "just to see how low I could sink.". She warns Alfred not, yet they live together for eight days until she suddenly decides to leave, a letter left behind stating only this: "I have come to love you so much that I can't keep on with you." In no way discouraged, he succeeds in finding her in Charles' acting company. As the two talk, Charles shows up and makes ambiguous comments on her personality traits. Unable to tolerate any form of ridicule concerning her, Alfred fights with him, each bearing a knife, and succeeds in stabbing him. A prompter arrives and proposes to take care of the matter provided Alfred join the Nazi party, Charles being a Jew and so in his view worth killing. With Alfred off to Berlin, Anna takes to alcohol and is fired from an acting company. Alfred finds her again by chance in a public park, but then war is declared and he must go away. To his surprise, she is glad of this, since the interlude offers her the occasion to live more intensely rather than the vapid way she has carried on so far. Instead, with Alfred away to war, Anna takes to a derelict aimless life. When he returns, she admits the waiting bored her. Even together, she still shows signs of apathy and Alfred quickly grows tired of it. She wants to be punished, but he is unable to provide even that, until, goaded, he strikes her with a poker and is arrested. They eventually write to each other, but just when they are about to live together again, she has a heart attack in a hotel and dies.

Jerónimo López Mozo[edit]

Also of note in Spanish theatre is Jerónimo López Mozo (1942-?), author of "Eloides" (1996).

"Eloides"[edit]

When Elides is fined by his boss, he strikes his delivery truck till it catches fire

Time: 1990s. Place: Madrid and provinces, Spain.

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Since his son has obtained a license to drive a truck, Sanchez announces to his employee, Eloides, that he will no longer be needed. Incensed about losing his job, Eloides drops the bottle-filled case he was carrying. When Sanchez tells him he will deduct the cost of the broken bottles from his salary, Eloides strikes the truck with an iron bar until it catches fire. For that, he is arrested but released temporarily while the court debates the case. His wife, Lola, does not wish him back until he finds another job, so that he heads for his parents' house. Because of the likelihood of his being sent to jail, his friend, Roman, advises him to escape to Madrid and for that purpose loans him money. About to board a train, Eloides sees Sanchez' accountant sitting inside and pulls back in fear of being seen. Although suspecting that Roman plans to take his place in his wife's bed, Eloides leaves anyway. He arrives in Madrid on foot, but is unable to find a job. At an abandoned train station, he meets Luis, a vagrant who earns handouts by playing classical music on his violin and who harbors him at his lodging inside the station itself. At a handout place for vagrants, Eloides is upset on hearing a white man insult a black one and overturns a table over the former. With no place to go, he washes himself at a public fountain and scrounges for food in trash-bins even after a fellow vagrant has gone through it. Still hungry, he swallows communion wafers until a curate advances towards him with a sword taken from a statue of St Michael to hurry him out of the church. He returns to Luis' room to offer him two bottles of wine stolen from the church. While drinking with his friend, Eloides swallows too plentifully, becomes sick, and vomits. With Luis asleep, Eloides prepares to steal his friend's coat and violin, but his friend wakes up in time, fights over his possessions, and is able to keep them. However, Eloides takes away all his money, explaining that he intends to pay him back once he makes a profit of buying tickets for various events and selling them at a higher price. But when Elides lines up for soccer tickets, thugs beat him up and steal his money. He avenges himself on the ringleader by stabbing him to death. He is soon arrested and given a six-year jail sentence. Wearied at the thought of returning to a vagrant life so soon, he strangles his defense lawyer to death.