Latin American Women Dramatists: Theater, Texts, and Theories

By Catherine Larson; Margarita Vargas | Go to book overview

Masculine Space in the
Plays of Estela Leñero

Myra S. Gann

Estela Leñero Franco, born in Mexico City in 1960 to the novelist/ playwright Vicente Leñero and the psychologist Estela Franco, received an undergraduate degree in anthropology before deciding to try her hand at play writing. Growing up with three sisters, a professionally active mother and a father keenly concerned about Mexico’s most pressing social problems, Leñero became aware of and interested in the situation of the Mexican woman, and women in general, at an early age. Her undergraduate thesis in anthropology, “El huso y el sexo: la mujer obrera en dos industrias de Tlaxcala” [The Spindle and Sex: The Working Woman in Two Industries in Tlaxcala] reflected this interest and later formed the basis for her most ambitious play to date, Las máquinas de coser (1990) [The Sewing Machines]. Since 1984 she has worked almost entirely in the theater, writing, acting, and, more recently, directing. She has published four plays: Casa llena (1986?) [Full House], Tooodos los días (1988) [Eeeevery Day], Las máquinas de coser, and Tiempo muerto (1991) [Dead Time]. In addition, she has received several prizes,1 and has seen all but the newest of her plays performed either semi-professionally or professionally. She is one of the most promising and prominent of the young Mexican playwrights.

A reading of Estela Leñero’s three most important plays—Casa llena, Habitación en blanco [Empty/White Room], and Las máquinas de coser—reveals a common, underlying preoccupation with space. All drama, as we know, is concerned with space, destined as it is to be displayed in a linear fashion before spectators in a space imagined by the dramatist. But with Leñero the spaces become an integral part of the

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