Reading the Maids in Lorca
Miriam Balboa Echeverría
Southwest Texas State University
SURREALISM is the breaking point of Lorca's theater, the point at which the form, techniques, and themes of his earlier theater undergo a devastating fragmentation, providing the basic aesthetic principles for the artistic translation of a fragmented modern consciousness. This inner fragmentation leads to a theater played out in an inner mental space performed in the suffocating square form of The House of Bernarda Alba, in which the walls of the house are like the frames of black and white negatives, one on top of the other, and whose margins are dangerously phasing out in constant movement, blurring photographic reality, suggesting madness.1
In the context of the European avant-garde, Lorca's work is the juncture between the unity of baroque performance texts and the texts of a fragmented modern mind. The following study seeks to study this point of juncture articulated in a corpus of so-called minor characters that requires an interpretative framework for its foregrounding of cultural control, transgression, and cruelty. In the margins of the texts and the margins of the culture the maids and other minor characters constitute a particularly relevant case for studying patterns of cultural hatred and have been studied insufficiently to date. Centering on the surrealist theme of motion and immobility inherent to Lorca's work, a number of movements and theories pertaining to painting, photography, and theatrical performance will be examined in order to better understand Lorca's critique of his culture.
Lorca's surrealist work with its evident parallelism with Artaud's “theater of cruelty,” anticipates later theatrical constructs, such as travestism, infrarealities, slow human decay, and antimimetic theater, and announces directions to be taken by Becket, Ionesco, and Genet. In The Public, which precedes Genet's theater, the characters play the roles of actors and perform transvestite games in multiple