Out of the Wings

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José Sanchis Sinisterra

Personal information
Surname: Sanchis Sinisterra
First name: José
Born: 28 June 1940, Valencia, Spain

José Sanchis Sinisterra (28 June 1940) is one of Spain’s most prestigious contemporary dramatists. He has won numerous awards for his theatre, including the National Theatre Prize in 1990. Born in the southern Spanish city of Valencia, he began taking part in the local arts scene in the early 1960s. He started contributing to theatre and arts magazines and founded the theatre company Aula de Teatro in 1960 and the research group Seminario de Teatro in 1961. These early activities are typical of a writer who continues to be interested in the theory and teaching of theatre as well as its practice. Since 1966 Sanchis Sinisterra has held a number of academic positions. He started out as a teacher of Spanish Language and Literature in the city of Teruel before moving on in 1971 to work in the Institut del Teatre (Theatre Institute) in Barcelona. Since then he has continued to unite dramatic theory and practice, teaching theatre in the Autonomous University of Barcelona from 1984 to 1989 while at the same time collaborating with many production companies. In 1977 he founded El Teatro Fronterizo, a collective of theatre practitioners, actors and researchers interested in experimenting with theatre and pushing the boundaries of the medium. A decade later he established the famous Sala Beckett in Barcelona – the only theatre space in the world authorised to bear Samuel Beckett’s name. As a director Sanchis Sinisterra has brought versions of many famous Spanish and international works to the stage, including Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and La vida es sueño (Life’s a Dream) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. His own work has been adapted for cinema, most notably ¡Ay, Carmela! (1987) which was made into an award-winning film directed by Carlos Saura.


Sanchis Sinisterra states that his strong involvement in both academia and theatre practice means that he incorporates into his drama fields of study that, ostensibly, have little to do with theatre (Ríos Carratalá 2005). His plays are made up of marginalised and unfortunate individuals. He states that ‘I’m more interested in losers, the marginalised, those on the sidelines rather than main players or the winners’ (quoted in Ríos Carratalá 2005). Some of his plays contain intertextual references to literature and are metatheatrical reflections on the creative process, featuring characters who have a strong sense of playing a part in some unknown fiction that might also encompass the audience.


Apart from a strong emphasis on the spoken word in his work, it is difficult to categorise Sanchis Sinisterra’s dramatic style. He claims, ‘Once I know how to do something, I move onto something else’ (quoted in Ríos Carratalá 2005). He suggests that what unites his works is, in fact, this tendency in each play to move into new areas and ‘explore dramatic forms and themes that are unfamiliar to me’ (quoted in Ríos Carratalá 2005).

Plays in the database
Useful reading and websites

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

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