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EStages.UK. Spanish theatre in United Kingdom (1982-2019)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EStages.UK (EStages.UK. Spanish theatre in United Kingdom (1982-2019))

Reporting period: 2019-04-22 to 2021-04-21

The Spanish Theatre in United Kingdom, 1982-2019 project has been designed to enhance the international status of Spanish theatre, providing a forum for dialogue and exchange between academia, schools, practitioners, and cultural managers. This is achieved through three distinct strands:

* To reconstruct a history of Spanish plays performed in the UK with a special emphasis on the post-Franco democratic stage. The research question behind the project was how Spanish theatre has / could fit in the UK context, following the model established by Christopher B. Balme of adopting an institutional approach, formulating an epochal set of beliefs and ideas related to theatre and its function within a given society.

* Providing a model for best practice through close collaboration with the first UK-based theatre dedicated to the staging of Spanish-language theatre in a bilingual format: the Cervantes Theatre (CT) (home of the Spanish Theatre Company).

* Creating new materials to promote and challenge the way Spanish theatre is studied in secondary and tertiary-level education in the UK.

The successful implementation of these three strands delivers the following conclusions:
o The reception of Spanish theatre in the UK is still underpinned by “orientalised” pre-conceptions.
o Contemporary forms of Performing Arts, such as Live Art, often find it easier to transcend such pre-conceptions, connecting with global currents and trends.
o The principal ambassador of Spanish theatre in the UK is Federico Garcia Lorca, but the significance of the Andalusian playwright and poet is too often reduced to clichéd discourses around Spain and its culture.
o New waves of Spanish speaking migrants in the UK (especially in London) plus the rising importance of Spanish as a foreign language in British universities and schools have led to some admittedly modest cultural/theatrical movements.
o Brexit and Covid make the future of such initiatives difficult to predict, but they have the potential to invigorate and make Spanish-language theatre in the UK sustainable.
The work performed followed the three strands of the project:

* Prior to the pandemic, I was able to work in different physical theatre archives (e.g. of the Victoria and Albert and National Theatre). Following their closure, I used online resources (e.g. British Newspaper Archives) and did virtual interviews with practitioners/promoters of Spanish culture in the UK.

* Collaboration with the CT developed in three ways: translation of plays to be performed, consultation work, and, finally, creation of material for the educational website of the company.

* Other pedagogical activities included the delivery of workshops, classes, and extra-curricular activities for undergraduate students; involvement (and mentoring) of postgraduate students; talks for schools; participation as a member of the jury in school and university contests.

Overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination:
The project’s website ( constitutes an accessible repository of the research results and outcomes, which include:
o A section of a single-authored monograph (Peter Lang).
o Two articles published/accepted in leading peer-reviewed journals (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Studies in Theatre and Performance). One article accepted subject to revisions (Cultural Trends).
o One chapter accepted for a peer-reviewed collective volume (Legenda).
o Two translations of plays in Spanish to be published in Antígona and the MHRA New Translations series.
o One database of productions of the plays of Federico García Lorca in the UK (forthcoming).
o Pedagogical materials on Yerma and Federico García Lorca, available at the educational website of the CT.
o Three pieces of journalism: two reviews (European Stages, El ciervo), and an interview and an article on Spanish theatre in the UK for Artescénicas. Magazine of the Spanish Academy of Stage Arts.
The results have also been disseminated through:
o Creation and direction of an extra-curricular Spanish Theatre Club (University of Leeds).
o Teaching on two modules in the School of Cultures, Languages and Societies (University of Leeds).
o Coordination of a 2021 seminar and a 2022 conference (University of Leeds, in collaboration with the international research group Performa and the Instituto Cervantes Leeds-Manchester)
o Events organized as co-director of International Writers at Leeds.
o Academic invited talks at the universities of Oxford, Buenos Aires, and Cantabria, and at the Jornadas de Teatro Clásico of Almería (the later postponed till 2022).
o Participations in conferences (Santiago de Compostela, Rome)
o An online interview with the Argentinian director based in Spain Pablo Messiez (Oxford Argentine Cultural Forum, Sub-Faculty of Spanish of the University of Oxford).
o Talks for schools, the Civil Service Spanish Network (UK government), The 1152 Club (Leeds Museums), and FM Chapel radio.
The impact of EStages.UK can be gauged through the following key insights:

* Progress beyond the state of the art in the study of theatrical exchange inside Europe: EStages.UK challenges, in both theoretical and practical terms, the relegated position Spain has often occupied in European theatre studies.
+ In a field still dominated by a text centred approach, EStages.UK adopted a more holistic methodology to the study of Spanish theatre beyond Spain, paying attention not only to translation or adaptation, mise-en-scène, or reception but also to circuits and circulation, shared interests, and connections amongst artists at local, national and international levels.
+ Studying how Spanish theatre has been performed and circulated in the UK also offers a privileged vantage point from which to explore how and why cultural identities are built within Europe. Through performance (in the act of embodying an-Other text/dramaturgy) the transactions between target and source cultures come into sharpest relief and perceptions about an author, nation or culture are confirmed or dispelled.

*Addressing problems of theatre practice and education, Estages.UK provides a model for enhancing co-operation between European scholars, practitioners, and educators. Working in collaboration with the CT has shed light on some of the opportunities and problems other future bilingual theatre initiatives could face when seeking to establish themselves in the UK.

*The gender concerns of the project are manifest not only through the attention paid to some of the most important contemporary female voices of Spanish theatre, but also in collaboration with young and promising female PhD candidates who assisted the PI in some of the project’s activities.
Production of Yerma by F. García Lorca (Young Vic, 2017, dir. Simon Stone)