Out of the Wings

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Lluïsa Cunillé Salgado

Personal information
Surname: Cunillé Salgado
First name: Lluïsa
Commonly known as: Lluïsa Cunillé
Born: 1961, Badalona, Spain

Lluïsa Cunillé (Badalona, 1961) is one of Spain’s most prolific contemporary dramatists and the winner of Spain's National Prize for Dramatic Literature Prize in 2010. Born near Barcelona, Cunillé writes in both Castilian and Catalan and, unlike many of the playwrights of her generation, she does not have a formal theatre education. Cunillé began writing plays with her sister María Rosa and came to the attention of the acclaimed playwright José Sanchis Sinisterra in 1989 when he was on the judging panel of the Calderón de la Barca prize. Impressed by Cunillé’s work, Sinisterra invited her to participate in one of his workshops at the Sala Beckett in Barcelona. Since then, Cunillé has won many theatre awards and her work has been widely performed and published. Owing to Sinisterra’s continuing interest in, and support of, her writing, Cunillé’s theatre is frequently likened to his own. There may be some validity in the comparison although, despite critical and commercial acclaim, Cunillé rarely gives media interviews or enters into debates about her work; she prefers her theatre to speak for itself. Cunillé is one of the co-founders of the Catalan theatre company, the Compañía Hongaresa de Teatre, established in 1995.


Cunillé’s theatre is populated by characters who are unable to communicate with others or to realise effectively their own dreams and desires. Time in her plays passes, but there is a sense that her characters are stuck in the transient places – railway stations, hotel rooms, playgrounds – in which they find themselves. Her theatre focuses on the loneliness and alienation of everyday life, and much of her work is consequently imbued with the sensation that characters have failed as individuals. Despite this, Cunillé’s plays often end on a note of ambiguity, allowing for the possibility that her characters might, eventually, achieve their goals.


Much of Cunillé’s theatre is characterised by minimalism. José Sanchis Sinisterra defines her work as a ‘poetic of subtraction’ (Sinisterra 1999). This is because it is frequently lacking in well-defined characters or locations, and what happens often remains unexplained, to the extent that spectators are led to ask of Cunillé – as Sinisterra feels compelled to ask – ‘can’t you give us another clue?’ (Sinisterra 1999). Even though Cunillé tends to focus on the mundane and the everyday, she does so in a manner that produces a sense of unease, leading to comparisons with Pinter’s plays in which ordinary dialogue simmers with an ineffable sense of something more sinister. Sharon Feldman likens this dissonant juxtaposition of the everyday and the strange to looking at black and white photographs, in that Cunillé conceives a theatre that ‘bears an identifiable and even comforting resemblance to the realm of our everyday experience; yet something is strangely disquieting and unfamiliar’ (Feldman 2007: 377).

Plays in the database
Useful reading and websites
  • Feldman, Sharon G. 2007. ‘The Sala Beckett and the Zero Degree of Theatricality: From Lluïsa Cunillé to Charles Batlle’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 17.3, 370-84

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 27 October 2011.

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