The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Jewish Identity in the Contemporary Spanish Theatre Scene: Myths and Memories

Prof. Paola Bellomi

In an article entitled “Mitos y memorias”, published in 1992 in the theatre magazine Primer Acto, José Monleón – a key figure in the Spanish critical panorama – wondered about the existence and consistency of the Jewish theatre in Spain of the Democratic Transition. The 500th anniversary of the discovery of America coincided with two other important anniversaries: the conclusion of the so-called “Reconquest” – that is, the end of the Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula – and the expulsion of the Spanish Jews from the territories governed by the Catholic Kings. The memory of these historical events also brought to the fore in the national theatrical debate the relationship between the mythical Sefarad and the “homeless Spaniards”, that is, the Sephardics, according to Ángel Pulido Fernández’s definition. Our hypothesis is that, starting from the 90s, the philosefardism which had characterized the Spanish debate of the early twentieth century and which had partially subsided during Francoism, is resuming; proof of this is the promulgation of the “Law 12/2015” which grants Spanish nationality to those who can certify their Sephardic ascendancy.

To prove the validity of our hypothesis, namely the resumption of philosefardism in the Spanish theater scene and its relevance in the current dramatic scene, we will base ourselves on the study of the main Iberian magazines specializing in theater criticism (Primer Acto, Artez, La Ratonera, Don Galán, etc.): we will identify the news and information relating to the representation of the Jewish identity present there, starting from the nineties and up to the present day; in addition to analyzing the data collected, we will elaborate a picture of the reception of Jewish identity in the contemporary Spanish dramatic scene, with the aim of providing an unprecedented artistic and critical panorama in current Theater Studies.