José Triana was born in Hatuey, Cuba. He emigrated to Spain in 1954 and studied acting at the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid. He began writing plays while he was living in Spain and continued to do so when he returned to Cuba after the revolution. Triana won the Casa de las Américas prize in 1966 for La noche de los asesinos. The play won him great praise and fame as a playwright but caused him to fall out of favour with the Cuban Ministry for Culture as the play was received as a depiction the ineptitude of Castro’s government. Triana has lived in Paris since 1980.
José Triana writes about the political interactions between human beings and the wrangling for power which that entails, whether that be on the scale of what goes on in a family or the grander scale of national politics. Triana has been interested in following classical models in his plays to address these themes, most notably in his play Medea en el espejo (Medea in the Mirror) (1960). He writes about the theatricality in human life both on and off stage, particularly the theatre of revolution, and this informs the aesthetics of his work.
The style of José Triana’s work bears some relationship to the absurd, although his version of the absurd focuses more closely on the primal universe of irrational primitive human emotion, rather than posing existential and metaphysical questions.
Triana, José. 1955. El mayor general hablará de teogonía (The Major General Will Speak About Theogony) (in Spanish)
Triana, José. 1960. Medea en el espejo (Medea in the Mirror) (in Spanish)
Triana, José. 1962. El parque de la fraternidad (Fraternity Park) (in Spanish)
Triana, José. 1963. La muerte del Ñeque (The Death of Ñeque) (in Spanish)
Dauster, Frank N. 1976. ‘The Game of Chance: The Theatre of José Triana’. In Dramatists in Revolt: The New Latin American Theater, eds. Leon F. Lyday and George W. Woodyard, pp. 167–89. Austin, University of Texas Press
Escarpenter, José A. and Linda S. Glaze. 1990. ‘José Triana’. In Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Cuban Literature, ed. Julio A. Martínez, pp. 466– 70. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press
Murch, Anne C. 1973. ‘Genet – Triana – Kopit: Ritual as Dance Macabre’. In Modern Drama 15, pp. 369–79.
Nigro, Kirsten F. 1977. ‘La noche de los asesinos: Playscript and Stage Enactment’. In Latin American Theatre Review 11.1, 45-57
Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 18 June 2012.