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Stages of Exile

Spanish Republican Exile Theatre and Performance


Edited By Helena Buffery

This book brings together twelve specially commissioned essays that showcase current research on Spanish Republican exile theatre and performance, including work by some of the foremost scholars in the field. Covering a range of periods, geographical locations and theatrical phenomena, the essays are united by the common question of what it means to ‘stage exile’, exploring the relationship between space, identity and performance in order to excavate the place of theatre in Spanish Republican exile production.
Each chapter takes a particular case study as a starting point in order to assess the place of a particular text, practitioner or performance within Hispanic theatre tradition and then goes on to examine the case study’s relationship with the specific sociocultural context in which it was located and/or produced. The authors investigate wider issues concerning the recovery and performability of these documentary traces, addressing their position within the contemporary debate over historical and cultural memory, their relationship to the contemporary stage, the insights they offer into the experience and performance of exile, and their contribution to contemporary configurations of identity and community in the Hispanic world. Through this commitment to interdisciplinary debate, the volume offers a new and invigorating reimagination of twentieth-century Hispanic theatre from the margins.


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Introduction 1


Introduction April 2009 saw the staging of La nit més freda (veus a l’exili) in the Sala Tallers of the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (TNC). It was a production devised and conceived by Teresa Vilardell, that sought to represent dif ferent stages in the experience of exile, covering the evacuation of Barcelona, the journey through northern Catalonia to the Pyrenees, dif ferent border cross- ings, experiences of refugees camps and reception centres, Paris, German death camps, transatlantic passages, and the long years in exile in Europe and the Americas. Drawing principally on the narrative voices of dif ferent Catalan writers: including Antoni Rovira i Virgili (1882–1949), Carles Riba (1893–1959), Mercè Rodoreda (1908–83), Joan Oliver (1899–1986), Anna Murià (1904–2002) and Agustí Bartra (1908–82), these were interspersed with documentary footage of the exodus and interviews with first and second generation Catalan exiles. Premiered during the 70th anniversary year of the end of the Spanish Civil War, which had in fact marked the beginning of what was to be a long exile for many of the 60,000 Catalan refugees who did not return to Spain within the first year, it was located symbolically within the monumental Teatre Nacional de Catalunya build- ing, thus standing for an attempt to reincorporate these experiences into the national canon. However, to access the more marginal third space of the theatre, it was necessary to go around the back of the imposing glass fronted amphitheatre, past the of fices and...

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