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Emilio Carballido

Personal information
Surname: Carballido
First name: Emilio
Born: 22 May 1925, Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico
Died: 11 February 2008

Emilio Carballido was born in Orizaba, Mexico 1925, but lived in Mexico City for most of his life.  He began a career as a lawyer, before abandoning this path to dedicate himself to writing.  His first performed play, Rosalba y los llaveros, was premiered in March 1950, at the Palace of Fine Arts to great critical acclaim.  He went on to write four novels, a volume of short stories and some one hundred plays, including plays for children.  Carballido also taught at the Universities of Rutgers and Pittsburgh and founded and co-edited the theatre journal, Tramoya.

On 16 March 2007, shortly before his death, Carballido and his partner of 20 years, Héctor Herrera, were one of the first couples to apply for a civil union after the Ley de Sociedad de Convivencia was passed in 2006.


Carballido’s plays are about life in the provinces of Mexico at all levels of society.  He satirises hypocrisy and social injustice, and in some works considers, in particular, the place of women in Mexican society (Un pequeño día de ira (A Little Day of Wrath) (1961) and ¡Silencio pollos pelones, ya les van a echar su maíz! (Your Feed is Coming, you Mangy Chickens!) (1963).   He writes about class conflict and personal and governmental corruption.  Carballido was evidently a writer with a keen social conscience and this clearly permeates all of his work.


Carballido's theatre has realist aspects but also incorporates symbolic elements, such as the appearance of poetic language in places as well as physical theatre and dance.    Combining costumbrismo with these more expressionist modes of theatre, Carballido showed the possibility of the ordinary coinciding with the extraordinary in exciting and dramatically innovative ways.  His work is also marked by a strong social conscience which emerges in his criticism of the unjust structures deeply engrained in Mexican society, history and culture.

Plays in the database
Other works
  • Carballido, Emilio. 1961. Un pequeño día de ira, (A Little Day of Wrath) (in Spanish)

  • Carballido, Emilio. 1963. ¡Silencio pollos pelones, ya les van a echar su maíz! (Your Feed is Coming, you Mangy Chickens!) (in Spanish)

  • Carballido, Emilio. 1967. Te juro, Juana, que te tengo ganas (Honest, Juana, I really want it) (in Spanish)

  • Carballido, Emilio. 1969. Acapulco los lunes (Acapulco on Mondays) (in Spanish)

  • Carballido, Emilio. 1974. Las cartas de Mozart ( Mozart’s Letters) (in Spanish)

Useful reading and websites
  • Bixler, Jacqueline Eyring. 1997. Convention and Transgression: The Theatre of Emilio Carballido. Lewisburg, PA, Bucknell University Press

  • Peden, Margaret Sayers. 1980. Emilio Carballido. Boston, Twayne Publishers

  • Taylor, Diana. 1991. Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America. Kentucky, The University Press of Kentucky

Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 10 August 2011.

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