During the rule of General Francisco Franco, Alfonso Sastre is credited with attempting to revive the Spanish national theater during the years following the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). After the war, economic hardship and strict censorship caused many Spanish intellectuals either to quit writing or to emigrate. Sastre was one of the few playwrights who opted to stay in Spain and to continue the effort to create meaningful, politically involved drama. Sastre’s entire life has been a struggle to reform Spain’s political and theatrical institutions. In 1945, before completing his university studies, he helped to found the Arte Nuevo (new art), an experimental theater group that sought to offer an alternative to the shallow, conventional plays that dominated the stage during post-civil war Spain. It also attempted to incorporate new methods of staging and acting. Although the group lasted only two years and had no immediate impact, it provided valuable training to several young men who would later be instrumental in the revitalization of Spanish theater. In 1948, Sastre became the first theater editor of a student magazine called La hora (the hour), thereby initiating his career as an essayist. His essays usually addressed political questions—in particular, the relationship between art and politics.
In 1950, Sastre and José María de Quinto, who had also been involved in Arte Nuevo, founded Teatro de Agitación Social (theater of social agitation, known as TAS), another new theater group. TAS attempted to introduce major foreign playwrights such as Arthur Miller, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Eugene O’Neill to the Spanish public. In their manifesto, Sastre and Quinto explained that their purpose was to make the spectator think about major political...
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Bryan, T. Avril. Censorship and Social Conflict in the Spanish Theatre: The Case of Alfonso Sastre. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982. Excellent, exhaustive study of the manifold problems faced by Sastre to have his plays performed and published in Spain under General Franco. Because Sastre considered himself one of the imposibilistas, or writers for whom accommodation with the fascist state was impossible, Bryan shows, he suffered severely from censorship and spent some time in jail. The work also relates Sastre’s fate to the larger issues involved.
Hardison Londre, Felicia. “The Theatrical Gap Between Alfonso Sastre’s Criticism and His Later Plays.” In The Contemporary Spanish Theater, edited by Martha T. Halsey and Phyllis Zatlin. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1988. Argues that many of the problems that have prevented the actual performance of Sastre’s plays come from his theoretical approach, which favors styles and techniques more appropriate for a contemporary novel. Perceptive analysis of the problem.
Harper, Sandra N. “The Problematics of Identity in Jenofa Juncal, La roja gitana del Monte Jaizkibel by Alfonso Sastre.” In Entre Actos, edited by Martha T. Halsey and Phyllis Zatlin. University Park, Pa.: Estreno, 1999. Analyzes construction and presentation of...
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