Out of the Wings

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Un horizonte amarillo en los ojos (2003), Gracia Morales Ortiz

English title: A Yellow Horizon Before the Eyes
Date written: 2003
First publication date: 2007
First production date: 28 May 2004
Keywords: family, history > memory, identity, power, violence, violence > social, society

Society has broken down. A man wanders through its ruins. He is accompanied by a young boy, who listens as the man talks about his fears, regrets, hopes and dreams.


A lone man pulls sacks of earth behind him in a cart. These sacks contain everything he has ever known – the smells of his loved ones, the memories of his past. The man has spent years spreading out his earth to lie on at night and packing it up again the next morning. He never stays in one place, always impelled by some unknown force to move on.

The man meets a young boy. We never see or hear the boy. But the man talks to him. After years wandering alone, the man is unsure why the quiet boy interests him. The boy carries his own smaller sacks of earth on his back. His hands are smooth. The man warns the boy that in time his hands will coarsen and that his load of earth will get heavier. Proudly, the man talks about the cart he uses to transport his own sacks. He got it in exchange for painting portraits of a family. The man decides to draw the boy’s portrait. Before he can do so, however, he thinks he hears something in the darkness. The man’s years of wandering alone have made him alert to the smallest of noises.

The danger dissipates, and the man goes on speaking his thoughts to the boy. Warily, unsure whether he should trust his silent young companion, the man reveals a secret. He makes the boy promise to remember this secret forever. The man reveals that he has imagined the perfect landscape. The picture he has painted in his mind is so vivid that the man believes he has been there. It is a place of safety: rich and fertile enough for a man and woman to make it their permanent home, with no more need to carry sacks of earth from place to place. The man wonders who and what is forcing him to continue his exile. He asks the boy what is stopping them from staying where they are. But the boy does not answer.

In the silence that follows the man takes out his flute and plays. He remembers how his wife used to love his music. Apart from the silent boy, the man is alone as he wanders the land. His family is always with him, however, in his memories and his dreams. The man fiercely defends these memories, just as he defends his sacks of earth. He tells the boy about the violent murders he has committed against thieves who have tried to steal his earth from him.

Once again, the man claims danger is approaching. He calls out into the darkness, warning whoever is there that – this time – they will not take his wife. His threats hint at a past tragedy. And indeed, the man’s agitation soon turns to weariness and shame. The man confesses to the boy that he abandoned his wife. They were set upon by a gang, and the man ran. He can still hear his wife’s cries, left alone to be tortured and killed. The man warns the boy that he, too, will get used to surviving as a wandering vagabond. He goes on, however, to suggest there might still be hope for the boy – that he still has time to escape this fate.

After the revelation about his wife, the man settles down for the night. He takes out his flute and plays. Thinking about future wanderings, the man tells the boy that there is still a long, long way to go.

Critical response

The play has been interpreted in various ways. Gracia Morales calls attention to the play being a metaphor for the experience of exile or the immigrant. She talks about the play invoking ideas of 'emigration, exile, nationalisms, war, the situation of refugees, etc' (Remiendo Teatro 2012: 8)(Remiendo Teatro. 2012).

The play has also been likened on a number of occasions to apocalyptic dramas and texts like The Road and The Book of Eli, with one reviewer talking about the Man dragging his sacks of earth through 'a finished, apocalyptic and seemingly unreal world' (De la Corte 2012).

Related plays

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 18 July 2012.

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