Negotiating America: Josť Tamayo's Strategic Ascent in the Francoist Theater Industry

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 11:50 AM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Carey Kasten, Fordham University
After the Spanish civil war, the Franco regime endeavored to strengthen its ties to Latin America by promoting the discourse of “hispanidad.” The ideological claim Spain laid to its former colonies emphasized the shared cultures of Spain and Latin America and aimed to undermine United States influence in the region. My paper examines how one cultural player, Josť Tamayo, maneuvered the hispanidad ideology to curry favor with the regime and turn himself into the most well-known Spanish theater director of the twentieth century. By studying the appeals Tamayo made to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1949 to 1951 to fund his Lope de Vega Company’s two-year, eight-country tour of the Americas, I demonstrate how Tamayo promised to promote Spanish ideals and purge Latin America of American pop culture. Tamayo returned to Spain in 1951 with his first ever government subsidy, a late acknowledgement of the work he had been doing abroad on the government’s behalf. Soon after, he assumed a government post as the director of one of Madrid’s two National Theaters. The explicit Francoist mission that Tamayo adopted for his Americas tour earned him the regime’s approval. At the same time, his tour also exposed Tamayo to new American theatrical trends that influenced his own theater. Just six months after his return, Tamayo staged Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at Madrid’s Teatro de la Comedia. While the Latin America tour earned Tamayo the endorsement of regime officials, the Miller staging brought him national popular acclaim. Tamayo’s early career provides an example of the complicated relationship cultural players maintained with American culture in the early Franco regime.