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Wolff, Egon (1926–)

Wolff, Egon (1926–)

Egon Wolff (b. 13 April 1926), Chilean playwright. Wolff is the most staged—both in his own country and abroad—award-honored, and translated of Chilean dramatists; his plays have been performed in thirty countries, translated into twenty languages, and produced as films in Mexico and England. The son of German immigrants, Wolff pursued a parallel career as an engineer, in the manufacture and sale of chemical products. Unlike many artists and intellectuals of his generation, he steered clear of self-serving political posturing. Similarly, his plays are largely devoid of partisan didacticism. He focused instead on the social issues at work in the rapidly changing Chilean society of his day. In terms of form he preferred the fourth-wall theater (in which the proscenium arch represents a "fourth wall" to the audience) and complied with the classical Aristotelian dramatic unities. Stylistically, he favored social and psychological realism, with doses of poetry and humor.

His plays Mansión de lechuzas (Mansion of Owls, 1958), Discípulos del miedo (Disciples of Fear, 1958), Niñamadre (A Touch of Blue, 1960), and his most discussed work Los invasores (The Invaders, 1963) exemplify his characteristic probing into snobbery, prejudice, and the clash between social classes. He portrays the tension between traditional values—dictated by a crumbling ruling class—and those of the emerging middle class, including the heritage of postwar non-Spanish European immigrants. El signo de Caín (The Sign of Cain, 1969), Flores de papel (Paper Flowers, 1970), and Kindergarten (1977) explore the concepts of freedom and commitment on an individualistic level. In Espejismos (Mirages, 1978), El sobre azul (The Blue Envelope, 1978), José (1980), Álamos en la azotea (Poplars on the Roof Terrace, 1981), La balsa de la Medusa (Medusa's Barge, 1984), and Háblame de Laura (Tell Me About Laura, 1986), Wolff deftly and poetically plumbs the depths of personal relationships. After his wife died in a tragic accident in 1995, he stopped working for about five years. In 2000, he published two new works, Encrucijada and Tras una puerta cerrada.

See alsoTheater .


Juan Andrés Piña, "Evolución e involución en las obras de Egon Wolff," in Mensaje, no. 269 (1978).

Klaus Portl, "Wolff's Theater der Angst," in Revista Iberoamericana, no. 3 (1979).

Jacqueline Eyring Bixler, "Language in/as Action in Egon Wolff's Háblame de Laura," in Latin American Theatre Review 23 (fall 1989): 49-62.

Elena Castedo-Ellerman, "Egon Wolff," in Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu, vol. 3 (1989), pp. 1311-1315.

Additional Bibliography

Bravo-Elizondo, Pedro. La dramaturgia de Egon Wolff: interpretaciones críticas (1971–1981). Santiago, Chile: Editorial Nascimiento, 1985.

Oyarzún, Carola. Wolff. Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2006.

                                        Elena Castedo

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