Gala, Antonio

Gala, Antonio
b. 1936, Córdoba
   Playwright, television writer, novelist and journalist, Gala was born in the first year of the Civil War, grew up during the most restrictive years of the Franco era and was the first of his generation to write successfully for the theatre. After receiving multiple university degrees in Law, Philosophy and Letters, and Political Science, he entered a monastery for a time. In 1963 his first produced play, Los verdes campos del Edén (The Green Fields of Eden), was warmly received by critics and audiences. With its concern for the dispossessed, its symbolic elements and poetic overtones, this realistic drama about a group of homeless people who take up residence in a cemetery crypt set the tone for many of his later plays. His next performed work, El sol en el hormiguero (The Sun on the Anthill) (1966), was a complex treatment of Swift's Gulliver and the political effects of his arrival among the Lilliputians. The critical reception was mixed, with one respected reviewer attacking both play and production. Gala's reputation grew with Los buenos dias perdidos (The Bells of Orleans), which ran for more than five hundred performances after its première in 1972. Anillos para una dama (Rings for a Lady) (1973), a revisionist treatment of the Cid legend from the point of view of his widow Jimena, and Petra Regalada (1980), an allegorical depiction of the end of the Franco era, were two major successes that followed. All of these plays deal with the struggles of women or minorities for identity and survival. After the end of censorship, Gala introduced sympathetic gay characters who were thwarted by homophobia in La vieja señorita del Paraíso (The Old Lady of the Paradise Cafe). Samarkanda (Samarkand), staged in 1985, was one of the rare Spanish plays that focuses on, and deals explicitly with, a homosexual relationship. Throughout his career Gala has written for television, beginning with twenty-six scripts for the series Y al fin, esperanza (And at the End, Hope) in 1967. The following year he wrote his first film script for director Mario Camus. He also wrote the successful musical Carmen, Carmen and the libretto for Leonardo Bolada's opera Cristóbal Colón, which was commissioned to commemorate the quincentennial of the discovery of America. In the 1980s Gala became disenchanted with theatrical production and began to write increasingly for periodicals. Because of a long-running newspaper column and frequent essays and articles for the Madrid press, his name is familiar to many Spaniards who may never have seen any of his plays. A first novel, El manuscrito carmesí (The Crimson Manuscript) (1990), won the Planeta Prize in 1990, and Más allá del jardin (Beyond the Garden) became a best seller in 1995.
   See also: performing arts; theatre
   Further reading
   - Díaz Padilla, F. (ed.) (1981) Obras escogidas, Madrid: Aguilar (an edition of twelve of Gala's plays with a lengthy introduction in Spanish by the editor).
   - Zatlin, P. (ed.) (1981) Noviembre y un poco de hierba; Petra Regalada, Madrid: Cátedra (an edition of two of Gala's plays with an excellent study of his life and theatre).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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