Twentieth-century Spanish theatre is often inspired by the figure of Lope de Aguirre, with motifs and modes that change depending on time, considering 1939 and 1975 two crucial watershed moments in the cultural history of the Iberian Peninsula. The dramatic works analysed date back precisely to the years of Franco’s dictatorship and the democratic period: in 1941 Gonzalo Torrente Ballester was the first twentieth-century dramatist to devote a text, entitled Lope de Aguirre, to the life of the Basque conqueror. The work, for reasons that will be explored in the present essay, was never staged in Franco’s time: Ballester’s Aguirre is a romantic hero who defies the king to defeat the injustices which he is forced to witness, and everyone, men, women, blacks, indios, will at last be free under his red-black banner. Dona Elvira, Imaginate Euskadi (1985), by Ignacio Amestoy Egiguren, is the first published work in the democratic era. It can be read as a great metaphor of the Basque issue, the tragedy of Euskadi and the climate of violence and tension that characterized the Basque Country in the 1980s.
conquest; Gonzalo Torrente Ballester; Ignacio Amestoy Egiguren; Lope de Aguirre; Twentieth-century Spanish theatre