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Divinas palabras Ram6n del Valle-InclAn Directed by Jose Tamayo Teatro Bellas Artes (Madrid) El concierto de San Ovidio Antonio Buero-Vallejo Directed by Miguel Narros Teatro Espahol (Madrid) Marion Peter Holt Inevitably there is a certain amount of reverence associated with the theatrical commemoration in Spain of the year marking the half-century since the deaths of both Valle-Incln and Garcia Lorca-though that reverence is not always so apparent in the actual productions of plays seen to date. Valle-Inclan has so far been represented only by Jose Tamayo's new production of Divinas palabras (Divine Words), which proved immensely successful with the public even though it fell somewhat short of a definitive treatement of this tragi-comic work dealing with primitive impulses ultimately held in check only by superstition. Tamayo's staging of Divinas palabras in 1961, also at the Bellas Artes, had been the first major production of a Valle-Incln play to be seen in Franco Spain, and it was scrutinized by the censors as carefully as any new, potentially sutbversive text. Tamayo displayed a practical skill in evading censorial objections, and the play was performened in a "revision" or adaptation by the novelist Torrente Ballester. The veteran director has returned to Valle's "preesperpento " with some of the same forces he employed in 1961. Settings and costumes are by the same designer (Emilio Burgos), musical supervision is again by Ant6n Garcia Abril, and the same actress (Nati Mistral) performs the central role of Mari Gaila. Mistral has become virtually an institution in Spain, justifiably acclaimed but also capable of overshadowing any other performer by her larger-thanlife presence on stage. Nevertheless, her Mari Gaila is compelling as a characterization-except perhaps for the few minutes she accompanies herself with a guitar and the vocal performance, appealing in itself, supersedes dramatic relevance. The casting of comic actor Juanjo Menendez as the cuckolded sacristan who attempts to rape his own daughter also created the risk of a familiar personality overwhelming a role. Again the interpretation is convincing in spite of the popular actor's reliance at times on mannerisms associated with his comic persona. Burgos has opted for a non-realistic basic set, altered during the rapid scene changes by atmospheric lighting, projections, and a minimum of props. The hydrocephalic dwarf, focus of the greed and cruelty that pervade 84 .2 DIVINAS PALABRAS the play, is wheeled about in an appropriately primitive cart-at times with some visible effort on the steeply raked stage. A certain rural picturesqueness suggested at times by the staging and lighting of this production is not at odds with the playwright's own detailed stage directions. Given the grim progression of the action and the emphasis on the grotesque and diabolic, it is easy to forget that Valle-Inclan set several of his scenes in bucolic surroundings bathed in sunlight. Although written the same year (1920) as Luces de Bohemia (Bohemian Lights), Divinas palabraslacks the sharp intellectual focus and artistic definition Valle-Incilin gave to the play that actually defines the esperpento. Its characters are not mere puppets or total distortions of the esperpentic mirror but humans driven by primitive urges in a postpagan ethical order that at least verbally condemns them. There is no agreement on the degree of irony that Valle intended when the sacristan-no less governed by lust than his unfaithful wife-saves Mari Gaila from stoning by pronouncing a Latin verse on the subject from the New Testament. It is even possible to read a redemptive message into Mari Gaila's "salvation." Fully cognizant of the ambivalence in the play itself, Tamayo has not given us a totally dehumanized vision. He maintains a difficult balance between esperpentic and cathartic drama, and if he errs it is in the direction of psychological characterization. He has also avoided an inappropriate naturalism in the staging. Both the supernatural encounter with the Goat Goblin and the collective assault on Mari Gaila are choreographed to achieve ballet-like suggestion rather than graphic literalness-though the actual abuse and denuding are evident enough. 85 The most anticipated production of the spring season was neither a play by Lorca nor one by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 84-87
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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