Out of the Wings

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Como si fuera esta noche (2002), Gracia Morales Ortiz

English title: As If It Were Tonight
Date written: 2002
First publication date: 2002
First production date: 10 May 2002
Keywords: violence > murder, identity, family, family > marriage, history > memory, power > use and abuse, family > mothers and daughters, love, society, women
Genre and type: magic realism

The bond between a mother and daughter can stretch beyond death. Even in the midst of domestic tragedy, love and tenderness can survive. The years may pass, but memories linger.


Two women, both almost thirty years old. Mercedes is a devoted wife and mother who spends her days at home, sewing and mending dresses for pocket money. The other woman, Clara, works in an office and lives in a modern apartment. The lives of the women are very different, not least because they exist in two different time periods. Mercedes lives in the 1980s, whereas Clara is very much a twenty-first century woman. On stage, the women barely notice one another, separated as they are in time. Sometimes, however, the mists of time clear and Mercedes and Clara engage in a magical kind of communication. This is because the women’s lives are, in fact, inextricably linked. Mercedes is Clara’s mother. She was murdered by her husband when she was the same age that Clara is now. Mercedes died on the night of 25 July, when Clara was just nine years old. The play takes place on this night, both in the past and in the present. Clara is now 27, but Mercedes has not aged a day since the tragedy. She lives on in Clara’s memory, the same playful yet anxious mother she always was.

On stage, Mercedes spends her last 25 July the way she spent many Friday nights – waiting for her husband Fernando to come home drunk from the bar. Mercedes was often forced to leave her two children, Clara and Pablo, alone in the house while she went out to beg her husband to come home. Fernando always refused, of course, since it would have made him look like a weak man in front of his friends. And so, Mercedes used to return home alone. Sometimes, she waited up for Fernando to stumble through the door – at which point a bitter and often-violent argument would ensue. Clara remembers these arguments. In particular, she remembers the first time she ever saw her father hit her mother. She was only six years old.

As Clara looks back on her childhood and as Mercedes talks about her life with Fernando, the years separating the women fade away on stage. At times, they almost  – but not quite – connect as they remember the past. While Mercedes asks a very young Clara to take down a shopping list, the older Clara on stage writes down a list of ages. These correspond to different times in her life – her first kiss; her first job; her new boyfriend, Raúl. These are life events that Clara never got to share with her mother. Now, Clara is going through another important life event – she is pregnant.

The prospect of telling Raúl about her pregnancy causes Clara some anxiety. She practises what she might say to him on a Dictaphone, almost as worried as her mother used to be about the reaction of the man in her life. Yet life at home for Clara and Mercedes in the 1980s was not all bad. Throughout the play, the anniversary of her mother’s death does indeed weigh heavily on Clara’s mind. On stage, Mercedes herself is getting more and more worked up about her husband’s latest Friday-night absence, unaware of the impending tragedy. Yet Mercedes also talks about the good times. When he did not drink, Fernando was a loving husband. Mercedes remembers their special Tuesdays together, when they would make love in the afternoon – the children dispatched to relatives. Clara, too, remembers good times – the way her mother liked to sing and dance around the house; how she loved to join in Clara’s games of hopscotch. Clara also remembers good things about her father. She recalls how strong he was, and how changed and old he now looks after being released from prison. Clara has not spoken to her father in a long time. Now, after spending the evening reflecting on the past, Clara decides she will call him in the morning.

As the play ends, Mercedes sits and sews. She is still waiting for Fernando to come home. As she does so, Mercedes mentions a strange dream she had about being a grandmother. Clara talks about wanting to keep her baby, despite it being unplanned. The two women hum the same tune. It is a song they used to sing and dance to together – mother and daughter – all those years ago.


The title, Como si fuera esta noche is taken from the lyrics of the song Bésame mucho, originally by Consuelo Velázquez. This is a very popular Spanish-language song that is heard several times throughout the play.

Critical response

Como si fuera esta noche (As If It Were Tonight) is one of Gracia Morales’ most successful plays. It has been performed over 100 times in Spain, the United States, and throughout Latin America.

  • Morales, Gracia. 2002. Como si fuera esta noche. Available for free download on the Remiendo Teatro theatre company website, at http://www.remiendoteatro.com/Como.htm (click on descargar texto) [accessed January 2012] (Online Publication)

  • Morales, Gracia. 2003. ‘Como si fuera esta noche’, CELCIT: Dramática latinoamericana, 113, http://www.celcit.org.ar/publicaciones/dla.php [accessed January 2012] (Online Publication)

  • Morales, Gracia. 2005. ‘Como si fuera esta noche’. In El teatro de papel, 1: ‘La Caverna’ por Rodolf Sirera; ‘Animales nocturnos’ por Juan Mayorga; ‘Como si fuera esta noche’ por Gracia Morales, pp. 267-97. Madrid, Primer Acto

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 28 May 2012.

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