Journal of Romance Studies

Staging Alfonso Reyes’s Ifigenia cruel

The challenges of multi-layered narrative, poetry, and anti-theatricality

Journal of Romance Studies (2019), 19, (1), 135–155.


Alfonso Reyes’s play Ifigenia cruel (1924) has been the subject of critical analyses in the fields of Mexican Cultural Studies and Classical Reception Studies. These have focused on the play’s historical context, its relatedness to Reyes’s biography and to Euripides’s versions of the myth. There is, however, a marked absence of scholarly work on staging the play. Despite Reyes’s canonical status as a writer and cultural figurehead, Ifigenia cruel has enjoyed few productions in mainstream Mexican theatre. This article identifies some of the challenges inherent in the text that help explain this, and examines these with reference to the 2014 production for the Mexican National Theatre. Drawing on Martin Puchner’s work on Modernist Anti-Theatricality and Reyes’s own commentaries, it reveals conflicting impulses at work within the play and argues that the tensions generated by these produce significant challenges for its staging.

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Author details

Shaughnessy, Lorna