Dragún, Osvaldo (1929–1999)

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Dragún, Osvaldo (1929–1999)

Osvaldo Dragún (b. 7 May 1929, d. 14 June 1999), Argentine playwright, achieved international status with his Historias para ser contadas (1957), a group of brief and dehumanizing vignettes that capture a pithy social reality with sparse language, minimal plot and scenery, and often grotesque elements. Dragún, a native of San Salvador, Entre Ríos, lacked formal training in the theater but learned quickly by acting, directing, and writing for community theater groups. His career was launched with the independent group Fray Mocho in 1956 and the production of two historical plays that underscored individual and political freedom, La peste viene de Melos (1956) and Tupac Amaru (1957). The writers of Dragún's generation (including Roberto Cossa, Carlos Gorostiza, and Ricardo Halac) sought to interpret an Argentine reality that was chaotic under Juan Perón but even more anarchic after his demise. This "new realism" found expression in the aesthetics of the grotesque, an honored tradition in Argentina with its dehumanization of the individual. Dragún wrote many full-length plays, including Y nos dijeron que éramos inmortales (1963), a study of the illusions of alienated generations, and Milagro en el mercado viejo (1964), a Brechtian play about crime and betrayal. Of his twenty or so theater pieces, the most successful are El amasijo (1968), an absurdist rendering of two lonely individuals who regularly miss the opportunities life hands them, and Arriba corazón! (1986), an expressionist piece with autobiographical overtones. Dragún spent many years outside Argentina, primarily in Cuba, where he was greatly involved with the International Theater School. In Argentina he was instrumental in creating the Teatro Abierto in 1981, a daring and ambitious presentation of twenty new plays, by various authors, structured to challenge Argentine political reality at its most vicious and repressive stage, the military dictatorship.

See alsoTheater .


Donald L. Schmidt, "The Theater of Osvaldo Dragún," in Dramatists in Revolt: The New Latin American Theater, edited by Leon F. Lyday and George W. Wood-yard (1976): 77-94.

Bonnie Hildebrand Reynolds, "Time and Responsibility in Dragún's Tupac Amaru," in Latin American Theatre Review 13, no. 1 (Fall 1979): 47-53.

Jacqueline Eyring Bixler, "The Game of Reading and the Creation of Meaning in El amasijo," in Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 12, no. 1 (Fall 1987): 1-16.

Amalia Gladhart, "Narrative Foregrounding in the Plays of Osvaldo Dragún," in Latin American Theatre Review 26, no. 2 (Spring 1993): 93-109.

Additional Bibliography

Dragún, Osvaldo, and John F. Garganigo. Osvaldo Dragún: Su teatro. Medellín: Ediciones Otras Palabras, 1993.

Suppes, Patricia. "Audience and Message in Osvaldo Dragun's Historias Para Ser Contadas and Heroica De Buenos Aires." M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997.

                                        George Woodyard