Revaloración de la comedia de Pedro Muñoz Seca: Un teatro menospreciado

Gisela Gloria Leon, Florida International University


The comedies of Pedro Muñoz Seca (1879-1936) received extraordinary public acclaim for over thirty years, yet critics rejected them. Although several experts have recently begun to study his plays in an objective manner, this author has generally either been underrated or omitted from theater histories. This study identifies the merit, contributions and relevance of Muñoz Seca's works so that the unwarranted void that now exists in Spanish theater annals is justly filled. Historical and biographical backgrounds and a brief sketch of the development of comedy in Spain serve to introduce the literary, political and social contexts in which the author develops the subgenre known as "astracán" and introduces the "fresco" character type. This analysis illustrates Muñoz Seca's verbal comic techniques---the use of regional dialects and individuals' speech peculiarities, double entendres, incongruence, periphrasis, and ingenious plays on words. It also explores the author's profound theatrical sense manifested in inter-textual references and self-reflexivity within the content of his plays. In addition, it identifies the scenic creativity he displays through the use of cinematography, the removal of color from stage decor (or the elimination of scenery altogether), and the original application of music to create comic effect. Furthermore, this study comments the satirical tone projected in Muñoz Seca's characters' idiolect and barbarisms as socio-political conditions worsen. Finally, it brings forth the author's use of parody to criticize his society and to deride other theatrical genres in vogue during his time. While the polarization between Muñoz Seca's popular success and the critics' rejection can be explained by esthetic and ideological prejudices, this dissertation ascertains that the true nature of the author's plays has not been properly identified. The "astracán" is a double parody; however, since it caricaturizes a comic subgenre that is already burlesque, its defining parodic features have been consistently misinterpreted as mere exaggerations and defects. What is more, as its critical content is not recognized, its renewing function goes unnoticed. Muñoz Seca's "astracán" illustrates an era of the Spanish comic stage and paves the way for the theater of the absurd. Its merit and relevance must be recognized.

Subject Area

Romance literature|Theater

Recommended Citation

Leon, Gisela Gloria, "Revaloración de la comedia de Pedro Muñoz Seca: Un teatro menospreciado" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3206027.