Out of the Wings

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La mala imagen (c.1997), Juan Mayorga Ruano

English title: Bad Image
Date written: c. 1997
First publication date: 2000
First production date: October 1997
Keywords: art, identity, identity > celebrity, love > friendship, power > media

What’s in an image? La mala imagen (Bad Image) explores our preoccupation with surface appearances and invites us to question what we see.


Edi and Lola are in a band together. Lately, they have not been seeing eye to eye. Their financial backers want to have more of a creative say in their image. Lola tries to negotiate between those holding the purse strings and an increasingly resentful Edi, who feels he is being slowly edged out of the group. As far as their financial backers are concerned, Lola looks the part. Edi, however, does not. Edi has written a song about the Bogeyman. He wants to use a photograph he took of a Bogeyman in a park, waiting to take children away in a large sack. But the band’s backers have replaced Edi’s amateur photograph with a professional one. The Bogeyman figure is still there, but he is now played by a model. Edi hates the fake and manufactured image, while Lola confesses that she finds both the photograph and the idea of a song about the Bogeyman sinister. Edi, in contrast, sees the Bogeyman as a saviour who takes children away to bring them to a better place. In fact, he claims that the song he has written comes directly from the Bogeyman. Edi remembers hearing it, thousands of times, when he was a little boy. Lola is unimpressed. As the band’s singer, she does not believe that these song lyrics – whether written by Edi or the Bogeyman – could ever be set to music.

The conversations between Lola and Edi are interspersed with scenes featuring a Model being photographed from every angle by the Photographer. The Model muses aloud about how strange it is to dress up in different outfits to create false images for the camera. Over the course of time, the Model’s clothes change until he is turned into Edi’s Bogeyman. In the end, just as Lola insists once again that Edi’s song is un-singable, the Model/Bogeyman starts to sing. We do not know, however, whether anyone other than Edi can hear the music.


In the Spanish original, the characters refer to the Bogeyman as ‘El Hombre del Saco’ (The Man with the Sack). This Spanish figure equates to the Bogeyman in English culture, used by parents to scare children into behaving with warnings like ‘Don’t wander too far, the Man with the Sack will catch you’.

  • Mayorga, Juan. 2000. ‘La mala imagen’, Estreno 26.2, 15-18

  • Mayorga, Juan. 2001. La mala imagen. In Teatro para minutos. Madrid, Ñaque

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Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 3 May 2011.

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