Poetry News

New York Times 'Overlooked' Reveals Margarita Xirgu

By Harriet Staff

For the New York Times's "Overlooked" series, Kathleen Massara tells readers about the actress and director, Margarita Xirgu, who brought Federico García Lorca's plays to life. Massara writes: "When Margarita Xirgu met Federico García Lorca in the summer of 1926 at a bar in Madrid, he was a fledgling playwright and a questionable investment for most producers." From there: 

But Xirgu, a Catalan actress and director who was also a lesbian and a political radical, was known for her willingness to take risks. She accepted the challenge, and staged Lorca’s “Mariana Pineda” in Barcelona the next year, with costumes by the artist Salvador Dalí.

The play was a hit, and it cemented a friendship between Lorca and Xirgu, who became instrumental in staging and exporting his work in the early years of the 20th century. Lorca went on to become one of Spain’s most admired writers.

“She took a big chance on him,” said Christopher Maurer, a Lorca scholar at Boston University. “He wasn’t a playwright; he was a poet.” Because of her left-leaning views, he said, “people called her ‘Margarita La Roja’ ” — Margarita the Red, a Communist threat to Gen. Francisco Franco’s right-wing dictatorship.

Besides being close friends, Lorca and Xirgu “were part of this gay demimonde, and were as ‘out’ as you could be in that era,” said Andrea Weiss, whose latest documentary, “Bones of Contention,” explores lesbian and gay repression in Franco’s Spain. “It was one of those well-known secrets.”

Read more at the New York Times.

Originally Published: May 25th, 2018