Teatro de ensueño, pb. 1905
Vida y dulzura, pr. 1907 (with Santiago Rusiñol)
Hechizo de amor, wr. 1908, pb. 1917 (Love Magic, 1917)
Juventud, divino tesoro, pr. 1908
La sombra del padre, pr. 1909
El ama de la casa, pr. 1910
Primavera en otoño, pr. 1911 (Autumn Spring, 1927)
Canción de cuna, pr. 1911 (The Cradle Song, 1917)
El palacio triste, pr. 1911
Lirio entre espinas, pr. 1911 (A Lily Among Thorns, 1923)
El enamorado, wr. 1912, pb. 1917 (The Lover, 1919)
Madame Pepita, wr. 1912, pb. 1917 (English translation, 1923)
El pobrecito Juan, wr. 1912, pb. 1917 (Poor John, 1920)
Mamá, pr. 1913 (based on Henrik Ibsen’s Et dukkehjem; Mama, 1923)
Madrigal, pr. 1913 (English translation, 1931)
Los pastores, pr. 1913 (The Two Shepherds, 1923)
Margot, pb. 1914
Las golondrinas, pr. 1914 (with José Maria de Usandizaga)
La mujer del héroe, pr. 1914 (Wife to a Famous Man, 1923)
La pasión, pr. 1914
El amor brujo, pr. 1915 (music by Manuel de Falla)
Amanecer, pr. 1915
El reino de Dios, pr. 1915 (The Kingdom of God, 1923)
El sombrero de tres picos, pr. 1916 (music by de Falla)
Navidad, pr. 1916 (Holy Night, 1928)
Sueño de una noche de agosto, pr. 1918 (The Romantic Young Lady, 1923)
Rosina es frágil, pb. 1918
Cada uno y su vida, pb. 1919
El corazón ciego, pr. 1919
Don Juan de España, pr. 1921
Mujer, pb. 1925
Seamos felices, pr. 1929
Triángulo, pr. 1930 (Take Two from One: A Farce in Three Acts, 1931)
La hora del diablo, pr. 1930
Sortilegio, pr. 1930
Almas ausentes, 1900
Horas de sol, 1901 (novella)
Pascua florida, 1903
La humilde verdad, 1904
Tú eres la paz, 1906 (Ana Mariá, 1921)
El agua dormida, 1907 (novella)
Beata primavera, 1907 (novella)
El peregrino ilusionado, 1908
Torre de Marfil, 1908
El amor catedrático, 1910
Todo es uno y lo mismo, 1910
Cuentos breves, 1899
Flores de escarcha, 1900
Sol de la tarde, 1904
El poema del trabajo, 1898
La casa de la primavera, 1907
Cartas a las mujeres de España, 1916
Feminismo, feminidad, españolismo, 1917
Nuevas cartas a las mujeres, 1932
Gregorio y yo, 1953
Un teatro de arte en España, 1926
Diálogos fantásticos, 1899
La selva muda, 1909
Obras completas, 1920-1930 (14 volumes)
Because the literary Gregorio Martínez Sierra (mahr-tee-nays syehr-rah) is actually two people, Gregorio and his wife, María (née de la O Lejárraga García), a focus on both individuals is essential to illuminate the circumstances surrounding the artistic development of one of Spain’s most popular dramatists. Both Gregorio and María were born to middle-class Castilian families, Gregorio in 1881 and María in 1874.
Whereas Gregorio was reared in a staunch Catholic setting, María was taught from her earliest years to question traditional beliefs. As a young boy, Gregorio manifested general attraction to literature and a specific love for the theater. It was in 1897 that Gregorio and María met for the first time. Gregorio was a shy individual but found himself deeply attracted to María, who was seven years his senior. Their mutual love of literature seemed to fuse their lives inexorably together. Years later, as their marriage began to deteriorate, the literary union that initially had brought them together seemed to intensify.
After their marriage in 1900, María supported the two of them by teaching, allowing Gregorio free rein to pursue his literary interests. In 1901, he founded the first of three periodicals, Vida moderna, which survived for only four issues. Undaunted by this failure and encouraged by the support of such established writers as Juan Ramón Jiménez, Ramón Pérez de Ayala, and Pedro González Blanco, he cofounded the respected but ephemeral periodical Helios.
In 1904, his novel La humilde verdad (the humble truth) won third prize in a literary contest. This success led to a commission to write another novel. María took the opportunity to suggest that Gregorio and she take a short vacation from Spain. Gregorio’s health had been weakening, and she was afraid that if they remained in Madrid he might fall prey to tuberculosis. In 1905, they left for Paris, where in the succeeding weeks they had the good fortune to meet several influential artists who, in later years, would collaborate with Gregorio. While María worked on the novel Ana Mariá, Gregorio returned with the well-known Catalonian dramatist Santiago Rusiñol to Madrid, where they worked on a Castilian version of Rusiñol’s play Buena gente (1906; good people).
When Gregorio returned to Paris, María and he decided to tour Europe together. Once Gregorio’s health seemed substantially restored, they returned to Madrid, where, in 1907, two fateful events awaited them: the performance of their first play, Vida y dulzura (life and sweetness), which was written in collaboration with their good friend Rusiñol, and Gregorio’s initial encounter with the actress Catalina Bárcena. Catalina was to become Gregorio’s mistress, and together they would dominate the Spanish theater, he as Spain’s leading director and she as his leading actress. María would be the invisible force behind her husband’s rising fame, writing many of the plays that would be credited to Gregorio.
With the successful performance of La sombra del padre (the father’s shadow) in 1909, Gregorio found himself in the position of being courted by the theater establishment. By now he was amorously involved with Catalina. He suggested that María and he take a vacation in Italy but that she should go on ahead of him while he completed business in Madrid. It was during this critical time in their marital relationship when the inspiration for their most renowned play was born. While in Nice and Florence, María visited many Catholic churches, where she was attracted to the beautiful portrayals of the Virgin holding her child. The idea of a virgin mother prompted María to focus on the concept of maternity. She discussed this idea with Gregorio, and two years later, The Cradle Song was to captivate the imagination of the entire Spanish people, winning the Royal Academy’s prize for best work of 1911.
Except for a sudden bout with typhoid fever in 1911, the remainder of Gregorio’s life was filled with innumerable successes. While he enjoyed the public’s adulation, María remained quietly in the background, writing the plays that would bear Gregorio’s name.
In 1915 and 1916, Gregorio collaborated with Spain’s most prominent composer, Manuel de Falla, to produce two very successful musicals, El amor brujo (love’s sorcery) and El sombrero de tres picos (the three-cornered hat). After a year of touring the provinces with Catalina, Gregorio decided to found his own theater company with Catalina as his leading actress. For eight years, from 1916 to 1924, the Eslava Theater in Madrid would present some of the most avant-garde dramas in Spain.
Gregorio, because of the highly successful writing of his wife, is known as one of Spain’s finest dramatists. It should be recalled, however, that his personal strength lay in directing. Considered by his contemporaries to be Spain’s premier director, he introduced many innovative techniques to the art of directing. For example, he is credited with separating the art of directing from that of staging and set design.
While Gregorio was running his theater, María found herself attracted to the international feminist movement. During these years, she wrote several volumes of essays on the modern woman’s role in society. In 1922, Catalina gave birth to a girl, precipitating Gregorio’s formal separation from María. From 1924 until 1930, Gregorio and Catalina toured with their theater group throughout Europe and the Americas, returning to Madrid in 1929 to open two new plays, La hora del diablo (the Devil’s hour) and Take Two from One. María, in the meantime, divided her time between Madrid and Nice. Besides continuing to work on new plays, she involved herself quite seriously in the Socialist and feminist movements. The physical separation between María and Gregorio caused economic complications for María. Because all the royalties went to Gregorio, he decided, in 1930, that María should receive the royalties of all their works produced outside Spain.
In 1931, Gregorio and Catalina went to Hollywood, where, for four years, Gregorio worked in the film industry. María, back in Spain, became more and more politically committed. She successfully ran as a Socialist candidate for a seat in the Republic’s Cortes (legislative body), which she held until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936. Following the outbreak of war, María went to Switzerland, and then on to Nice, where she settled. Gregorio and Catalina fled to Argentina, where they continued their theatrical and filming activities.
Gregorio’s health began to deteriorate. Suffering from a severe abdominal illness, he returned to Spain in 1947, where he died of cancer on October 1, two weeks after his arrival home. María resided in Nice until 1950, when she left for the United States in the hope of selling some of her stories to the Walt Disney Studios. Unsuccessful in this attempt, María left, in 1953, for Mexico, where she published her autobiographical account titled Gregorio y yo (Gregorio and I).
From 1953 to 1974, María lived in Buenos Aires, where she remained active, writing articles for various periodicals until her death on June 28, 1974. Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra, together, dominated the Spanish stage for most of the first half of the twentieth century. The unique literary partnership that they shared gave to the world some of the most tender and loving scenes the Spanish theater has ever produced.