Lorca’s ‘Play Without a Title’ Gets a New Title, and Two New Acts

One of Federico García Lorca’s plays is getting a new ending. As odd at that might sound for the Blood Wedding playwright/poet who died in 1936, it’s just been made possible by (and thankfully, the end of this sentence isn’t: “a Lorca algorithm”) another Spanish playwright/poet named Alberto Conejero.

The Guardian reports that the writer has given a play Lorca began but never finished (ultimately titled Play Without a Title in its unfinished form) two additional acts, as well as another title, The Dream of Life (El sueño de la vida). Conejero’s version will be published in 2018, and performances will come after its publication.

Conejero described The Dream of Life:

It’s a play about the role of theatre when confronted with a social emergency but it’s also about the necessity of fiction and poetry in a world in ruins…[It] fulfils the role of theatre in times of social crisis and amid the rise of fanaticism, and I feel it’s absolutely necessary now.

Lorca was a staunch socialist, and was thought to have been assassinated by a right wing militia who, per the Guardian, “were systematically wiping out suspected leftwingers” at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, as fascism overtook the country. Revisiting a play whose completion was violently halted by rising Fascism indeed seems relevant.

Lorca had originally intended it to be a three-act piece, and it’s thought that he began to write it in 1935, but was murdered before he could complete it. What little there was of the play remained unpublished until 1978, and un-performed until 1989.

What was already there in Lorca’s writing was a meta-theatrical, tragicomic, early avant-garde piece, which takes place in a theatre where actors are performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which also, incidentally, contains an early example of meta-theater).

Apparently, for the project commissioned by Madrid’s regional government, the playwright has followed plans Lorca himself had for the play, but also eschews saying he “finished” it, emphasizing rather that “it’s more about a dialogue with Federico’s voice and carrying on with that impulse.” He says he hasn’t “touched a comma of [Lorca’s] act.” Anticipating controversy, he said, “Anyone who wants to discover Play Without a Title as it was left can always do so. I haven’t painted over the canvas.”