La Fundación (The Foundation) is divided up into two parts, each consisting of two scenes. The action of the play runs over a number of days, although the precise duration is not specified.
Set in one room, the lighting and scene changes in La Fundación (The Foundation) are an integral element to the action. Throughout the play, audiences are presented with whatever Tomás sees, so that while he remains within his fantasy world, spectators also see the comfortable furniture and spectacular view from the window. When Tomás’s ability to pretend he is living in a pleasant foundation falters, the room’s comforts disappear so that spectators are gradually shown the dank and sparse surroundings of a prison cell.
The play begins in a room that accords with Tomás’s imagination. It is bathed in rainbow-hued light and furnished simply, but tastefully. Despite the comforts, the room also feels strangely claustrophobic.
During the climax of Part One scene 2 the light in the cell changes markedly. When the Supervisor and Assistant enter the light becomes sad and grey. As soon as the Supervisor asks how long the Man has been dead, the room is suddenly bathed in harsh bright light. As the scene ends, the light becomes brighter and brighter, almost oppressively so.
In Part Two scene 1 the room the men are in resembles a prison cell. In the course of the scene an ornate lampshade which was hanging from the ceiling is slowly drawn up. When the door to the room is opened, the doors of other prison cells are visible.
The light illuminating the countryside through the window fades as the scene progresses, making it less visible. Later, as Tomás closes his eyes in bed, the room is infused with moonlight. Meanwhile, in contrast, dawn sunlight shines once again on the scenery outside the window.
At the end of the scene Berta appears as a vision beyond the window. She looks like she is floating in the air, holding a white mouse by the tail that she eventually drops.
In Part Two scene 2 the long curtain that separated off the bathroom in the room is raised to the ceiling and the bathroom is revealed to be a dank and dirty area. The window looking out to the countryside has been covered by a screen.
At the end of the play the scene gradually returns to the way it looked at the beginning.
There are a number of costume changes during the play. These complement the way in which Tomás moves in and out of his fantasy world.
Tomás and the five men
At the beginning of the play all the men wear grey shirts and dark trousers.
In Part Two scene 1 Tomás still wears his dark trousers. However, the other four men are now wearing creased trousers the same colour of their grey shirts. The face of each man looks more gaunt than before. Later in this scene Tomás undresses for bed. His undergarments are immaculate, in stark contrast to the dirty and ripped underwear of his colleagues.
At the start of Part Two scene 2 Tomás’s trousers have become the same grey colour as those of the other men.
The Supervisor and the Assistant
In Part One the Supervisor and the Assistant are dressed impeccably in black jackets, tailored suits, bright silk ties.
In Part Two scene 2 the Assistant enters the room wearing a military uniform. Later in this scene, the Supervisor enters wearing a similar uniform.
At the very end of the play the Supervisor enters dressed once again in his pristine attire.
In scene 2 of Part One the Supervisor uncovers the body of the Man, revealing a corpse lying in its bedraggled underwear.
On three occasions a fragment of the Pastoral section from Rossini’s William Tell Overture is heard. Victor Dixon notes that the appearance of the piece is used ‘to accompany and emphasise a central visual symbol’ (Dixon 2005: 569) – namely the landscape beyond the window. Both the music and the landscape are, therefore, interconnected as symbols of hope (Hasley 1985: 253). In addition, the fact that the music is heard at the beginning and at the end of La Fundación (The Foundation) reinforces the play’s sense of circularity (Buero Vallejo 1989: 17).
Buero Vallejo, Antonio. 1989. La Fundación, ed. Francisco Javier Díez de Revenga. Madrid, Espasa Calpe (in Spanish)
Dixon, Victor. 2005. ‘Music in the Later Dramatic Works of Antonio Buero Vallejo’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 82.3, 567-88
Hasley, Martha. 1985. ‘Landscapes of the Imagination: Images of Hope in the Theater of Buero Vallejo’, Hispania, 68.2, 252-9
|10 males||12 males|
|1 female||1 female|
|11 (total)||13 (total)|
Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 12 November 2010.