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Carlos Muñiz

Personal information
Surname: Muñiz
First name: Carlos
Born: 2 December 1927, Madrid, Spain
Died: 14 October 1994

Carlos Muñiz (Madrid 1927) was one of a generation of young playwrights whose formative years were spent under the harsh conditions of the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) and the subsequent early years of Franco’s dictatorship. The general poverty of this period influenced his work, as did his own experience as a civil servant employed by the Treasury in the early 1950s. Because of this background, Muñiz’s plays are often set in offices, featuring impoverished and badly treated employees cowed by the selfishness of those around them and by excessive and blinkered bureaucracy. Although Muñiz had been interested in literature and theatre from a young age, he did not begin writing plays until his thirties, while he was still working at the Treasury. His first play, Telerañas (Cobwebs) premiered in 1955. It received bad reviews, with the result that for a number of years Muñiz was reluctant to present his plays in public. This was despite his ability as a writer being acknowledged, even at this early stage,  by well-known names such as Alfonso Sastre and Antonio Buero Vallejo. In the meantime, after leaving the Treasury, Muñiz became (in 1958) Head of Drama Programming for the Spanish television channel TVE. He only lasted in the job for a year, ostensibly fired for refusing to shave off his beard. As a writer under Franco’s dictatorship, Muñiz’s plays often suffered at the hands of the censors. This is probably one of the reasons why his body of dramatic work is relatively small, with El tintero (The Inkwell), which premiered in 1961, being his most well-known and successful play. As well as writing for the theatre, Muñiz wrote a number of film scripts, novels and children’s books.


Muñiz’s plays are subtle critiques of Spanish society under Franco. He suggests what is intolerable and unjust, leaving spectators to draw their own conclusions. His characters are often thwarted or underachieving individuals, for example employees trying to make a decent living in adverse circumstances, beaten down by the cruelty and indifference of the society in which they live.


Muñiz’s plays are often a mix of the real and the fantastical or strange, prompting Alfonso Sastre to label works such as El tintero as examples of ‘expressionist-realism’ (Muñiz 1963: 87). This balance between expressionism and realism was a later development: after Muñiz’s first play Telerañas was criticised for being overly-expressionist in style, he wrote El grillo (1955) which was much more naturalistic in style. He subsequently tried – with varying degrees of success – to achieve a balance between realism and expressionism in later works (Muñiz 1963: 26).

  • Muñiz, Carlos. 1963. El tintero. Un solo de saxofón. Las viejas difíciles. Madrid, Taurus (in Spanish)

Plays in the database

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 6 October 2010.

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