Out of the Wings

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José Ramón Fernández

Personal information
Surname: Ramón Fernández
First name: José
Born: 1962, Madrid, Spain

José Ramón Fernández (Madrid 1962) started his writing career with novels rather than plays. His initial activity in the theatre consisted of managing public theatres and he eventually began his career as a playwright in his 30s. In 1993 Fernández was awarded the Calderón de la Barca Prize for the play Para quemar la memoria (To Burn the Memory) and also the Lope de Vega Prize in 2003 for Nina. Fernández has collaborated with other playwrights and directors and was a founding member of the theatre company El Astillero, alongside other notable writers such as Raúl Hernández and Juan Mayorga. He has also contributed to the Spanish theatre magazine, Primer Acto. As well as writing his own plays, Fernández has been responsible for producing versions of classical plays such as García Lorca’s Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He runs dramatic writing workshops at the William Layton theatre school in Madrid, where he has also taught at the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático.


The body of work of José Ramón Fernández is characterised by a preoccupation with the past and its relationship with the present. Linda Materna summarises the playwright’s ‘constant thematic preoccupations’ as the following: ‘the impact of history, time, and memory upon the present, and our human need to confront the past and to understand and reconcile ourselves with our individual and collective actions and their consequences’ (2007). In accordance with this, Fernández’s characters nostalgically reminisce about their past experiences and often express a sense of regret about how life has turned out for them. He also explores in his theatre aspects of identity and language. The Spanish Civil War and its legacy are themes in some of his plays. In others, contemporary politics and society are critiqued.

  • Materna, Linda. 2007. ‘Staging History, Time and Memory: Two Plays by José Ramón Fernández on the 2006 Madrid Summer Stage’, Western European Stages, 19.1


The plays of José Ramón Fernández vary in length and style. Some are characterised by a mixture of reality and fantasy, or of sobriety and drunkenness, as in Nina. The dead sometimes appear on stage to listen to the living, and female characters feature prominently. Fernández often incorporates cultural references from films, music and other plays into his own work. Characters call attention self-consciously to the language they are using. Fernández’s stage directions are often more than simple instructions for decor or character placing: they also convey detailed information about how characters are feeling emotionally.

Plays in the database
Useful reading and websites
  • Materna, Linda. 2007. ‘Staging History, Time and Memory: Two Plays by José Ramón Fernández on the 2006 Madrid Summer Stage’, Western European Stages, 19.1

  • Serrano Baixauli, Rosa. 2009. ‘José Ramón Fernández: un teatro para y sobre personas’, Stichomythia, 9, 82-8 (in Spanish)

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 13 November 2010.

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