Promoting Hispanic Performance Cultures

Submitting Institution

Queen Mary, University of London

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

The range, quantity and quality of Hispanic theatre production, film exhibition and cultural understanding in the UK has been significantly enhanced by the research on Spanish-language stage and screen cultures by Professor Maria Delgado (at QMUL since 1997). The body of knowledge she has generated has led to significant impact in three key areas: i) opening up public discourse on Hispanic cultures; ii) improving the programming and circulation of Spanish-language theatre and film; and iii) contributing to creative and economic prosperity through consultancy and advocacy in the creative industries in the UK and Spain.

Underpinning research

Professor Maria Delgado has made significant contributions — through methodological practices, issues addressed and work on film and theatre specifically — to the understanding of Spanish-language stage and screen cultures with over 30 peer-reviewed publications.

METHODOLOGIES: Delgado's research methodology has effectively integrated a field of artistic process into the academic discourse of analysis and critique, making practitioners' ideas and insights on theatre and performance practice much more publicly available. She maps transnational, transcultural currents in her major publications — The Paris Jigsaw (2002), `Other' Spanish Theatres (2003), Catalan Theatre 1975-2006 (2007), Federico García Lorca (2008), Contemporary European Theatre Directors (2010), A History of Theatre in Spain (2012) and Spanish Cinema 1973-2010 (2013). These works construct revisionist cultural histories, offering readers new approaches to the art of making theatre and film in the Spanish-speaking world, reassessing periods, companies or figures in twentieth-century cultural history in modes that recognize fertile — and often undocumented — collaborations in Spain and Spanish America.

ISSUES: Her research to date has focused on three key, inter-related areas: i) Spanish-language theatrical cultures (with a particular emphasis on the cultural significance of Federico García Lorca); ii) screen cultures, including creative processes, distribution, curation and exhibition; and iii) the working methods and material conditions of production across both film and theatre.

THEATRE: In relation to theatrical cultures, Delgado's research has brought the `hidden' histories of performers, producers, directors and companies into the public domain. Her publications have focused on: the contribution of actresses to the dramaturgy of Lorca; the transcultural currents that have moulded theatrical practices in Spain as well as in the Americas; regional cultures in Spain (especially Catalan-language performance); the evolution of the role of the director on the Spanish stage; the performance of historical memory; and the role of Lorca's legacies in state representations of Spain through cultural branding and the heritage industry.

FILM: Delgado's influential research on Spanish-language film places its histories within a broader cultural ecology — including theatrical, visual and musical cultures. Through writing, and also crucially through the practices of curation, organisation and programming, her research on screen cultures has opened up dialogue about under-acknowledged archives and practices, encouraged and facilitated global patterns of exchange and distribution and generated critical understandings of stage/screen interactions. This can be seen, for example, through her public discussions about craft in the cinema of Pedro Almodóvar (2009-13) and her `Lorca on Film' season (2009).

SUMMARY: Across her research in theatrical and screen cultures, Delgado has undertaken extensive work as a critical commentator, translator, and historian of working methods in theatre and film in the Spanish-speaking world. Her research involves extensive interviews with leading practitioners (especially actors and directors), and extended periods in rehearsal observation. The resulting body of work makes evident the varied interpretations (and tensions) that prevail in the construction of theatrical and cinematic histories of Spain. Her work has embedded Spanish-language practitioners within dominant histories that habitually marginalise Hispanic work, offered expanded understandings of creative agency in Spain and recognised the problems of mapping `national' histories of performance and film across cultures of exile, migration and global exchange shaped by postcolonialism as well as economic globalization.

References to the research

(and Quality Indicators [QI])

i. Delgado, M., 'Los golfos: Heralding a New Spanish Cinema for the Sixties', in Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition, ed. P.W. Evans. Oxford UP, 1999, pp. 38-54. Chapter. Peer reviewed.

ii. Delgado, M., `Other' Spanish Theatres: Erasure and Inscription on the Twentieth-Century Spanish Stage. Manchester UP, 2003. Monograph. Peer reviewed. QI: AHRC [then AHRB] Research Leave Scheme, 2001-02, £8,698; plus additional grants from Instituto Cervantes London (2002), Cañada Blanch Foundation (2002), Spanish Embassy in London (2002). Choice Outstanding Academic Title (2004).


iii. Delgado, M. [co-ed. with D. George and L. Orozco], Special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review `Catalan Theatre 1975-2006: Politics, Identity and Performance', vol. 17, no. 3 (2007). Peer reviewed. [Includes, by Delgado, co-authored introduction pp. 273-77, authored article `Composing for the Stage: The Music Theatre of Carles Santos' pp. 278-300 and an interview with Jordi Milan `"A Theatre Without Curtains": On Process, the Actor as Artisan and La Cubana', pp. 346-56.] QI: grant of €5,075 from Institut Ramon Llull Barcelona; Premi Joan B. Cendrós for best scholarly work published in the Catalan language, 2007 (awarded to Delgado, George and Orozco in 2008).


iv. Delgado, M., Federico García Lorca. Abingdon: Routledge, 2008. Monograph. Peer reviewed. QI: AHRC Matching Leave Scheme, 2006, £15,301 [application graded A+]. End of award report graded the project `outstanding'; also AHRC, Small Grants in the Creative and Performing Arts, 2005-06, £3,190 [application graded A+].

v. Delgado, M. [co-ed. with D.T. Gies], A History of Theatre in Spain. Cambridge UP, 2012. Edited collection. Peer reviewed. [Includes, by Delgado, co-authored introduction, pp. 1-17; authored chapter `Directors and the Spanish Stage 1823-2010', pp. 426-52; interviews with Nuria Espert, `This Evolution is Still Ongoing', pp. 453-65 and Lluís Pasqual, `Theatre as a Process of Discovery', pp. 466-77.] QI: AHRC Research Leave Scheme, 2009, £37,971; plus grant of €2,000 from the Spanish Ministry of External Affairs/Spanish Embassy in London, 2012.

vi. Delgado, M. [co-ed. with R. Fiddian]. Spanish Cinema 1973-2010: Auteurism, Politics, Landscape and Memory. Manchester UP, 2013. Peer reviewed. [Includes, by Delgado, authored introduction, pp. 1-20; and authored chapter `La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008): Silence, historical memory and metaphor', pp. 195-211.]

Further QI: Condecoración Reina Isabel la Católica (Encomienda) awarded by King Juan Carlos (2003); Association of Theatre in Higher Education [ATHE] USA Excellence in Editing Award (2013). See also for reviews of all publications listed above.

Details of the impact

Professor Delgado has perhaps more than anyone in recent years had a profound influence on the perceptions of people in Britain on Spanish theatre. She has widened our perspective and deepened our knowledge of Spanish writers, playwrights, directors and theatre practice. — Sir Brian McMaster, Advisor to the Cultural Olympiad (2012), author of `McMaster Review: Supporting excellence in the arts — from measurement to judgement' (DCMS, 2008), former Director of the Edinburgh International Festival (1992-2006)

Delgado's research in theatrical and screen cultures has generated a body of knowledge that has led to impact in three key areas.

I. Opening up public discourse

I've always appreciated María's insight regarding theatre matters, and especially her advice to me during my time as Director of the Grec Festival in Barcelona [2006-11]. Her reviews, comments and perceptions about the international scene resulted in my inviting many highly appreciated artists to present their work in our programmes. — Ricardo Szwarcer, Director of Usina del Arte, Buenos Aires (2012)

Delgado has made 30+ BBC radio appearances to discuss Spanish and Latin-American stage and screen culture across six different programmes: The Strand (World Service); Open Book, Saturday Review, Start the Week, The Film Programme (Radio4); and NightWaves (Radio3). She is also a frequent reviewer and contributor to mass media and trade publications, such as Sight & Sound (five exclusive interviews and features, 12 film and book reviews and 13 commentaries); Plays International [PI] (12 reviews); and Western European Stages (11 reviews). All are key industry publications with an extensive readership; for example, Sight & Sound's estimated monthly readership is 45,000; PI's subscription base includes Steppenwolf Chicago and Market Theatre Johannesburg. Her work has further been cited in 50+ Spanish-language news outlets, including Deia, El País, Página 12 and Diario de Sevilla.

This work raises the profile of Spanish-language theatre productions, disseminates knowledge about new working practices, and attracts new audiences. For example: in 2013 a film she championed for Sight & Sound's `Hidden Gems' feature (Aug. 2007), Cría cuervos/Raise Ravens, was re-released by the BFI, Delgado was invited to chair the interview with its director Carlos Saura at the BFI, London (11 June 2011), and she contributed a 2,000 word essay to the 2013 DVD release. In another case, a review of Lake Tahoe first published in Sight & Sound, was reproduced in the DVD release notes (Yume Pictures, 2009).

Delgado has conducted public interviews with more than 50 major cultural figures from Spain and Spanish-America since 2008, including Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Alfredo Castro, Benicio del Toro, Diego Luna, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Over 4,000 audience members have viewed these interviews live or online and feedback indicates audiences' enhanced appreciation of the films. Three of the interviews have also been disseminated as commentaries on DVD film releases: Tony Manero (dir. Pablo Larraín, Network, 2009); Abel (dir. Diego Luna, Network, 2011); Cría cuervos (BFI Releasing, 2013).

In 2012 Delgado hosted Almodóvar's David Lean Lecture for BAFTA, contributing to the online edit and undertaking a further BAFTA interview on casting and the craft of filmmaking. She participated in the 2012 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Almodóvar tribute with a public interview and conducted the only public Q&A for the 2013 UK premiere of Almodóvar's I'm So Excited!, presented across 40+ UK cinemas in a live stream. She briefed and advised the producer of BBC One's The Graham Norton Show prior to Almodóvar's appearance (26 April 2013, audience of 4 million). All these events have served to enhance public and industry understandings of the working practices of Spain's leading filmmaker.

II. Improving the programming and circulation of Spanish-language theatre and film

Delgado's publications have been hugely influential in shaping my programming. Feedback from audiences confirms that her Q&As have genuinely enhanced their appreciation of the films. Joana Granero, Director, London Spanish Film Festival.

Delgado's influence on cultural programming — through working with cultural organisations, as well as through the dissemination of her ideas and analysis as detailed in the previous section — has led to wider cultural awareness of Hispanic film and theatre and increased economic prosperity through ticket sales.

From 2008-12, Delgado worked as an advisor to the BFI London Film Festival, programming 67 Spanish-language films attracting audiences of 21,856 and generating £193,525.50 from ticket sales. Of these films, 9 have secured UK releases, generating cinematic box-office and DVD sales.

In 2009, Tristana Media invited Delgado to select the films for the `Lorca on Film' season at London's Cine Lumière, 27-30 March 2009. The season attracted an audience of 607 attending the six screenings, with three public Q&As chaired by Delgado. The accompanying `Lorca on Film' website had 3,329 visitors between Feb. and May 2009. The National Galleries of Scotland requested the double-bill programme of Un Chien andalou and Trip to the Moon as part of a `Lorca on Film and Surrealism' event on 8 July 2010.

In August 2010, Delgado co-programmed a `South American Renaissance' season at the BFI, London, showing 21 films over 47 screenings, and drawing audiences of 2,941.

Building on the success of the `Lorca on Film' season, Tristana Media invited Delgado to curate two programmes of films on acting in Spain, `Acting Across Frontiers' (2012-13), again at the Ciné Lumière, for the London Spanish Film Festival. The first, `Acting Almodóvar' (29 Sept. — 2 Oct. 2012), comprised five screenings, an onstage conversation between actors Marisa Paredes and Antonia San Juan and Delgado, and three Q&As attracting audiences of 441. The accompanying web pages attracted 76,000 page views between Aug. and Oct. 2012. Delgado was also commissioned to write an essay on Almodóvar's work for Latino Life, the UK's largest Latin and Spanish lifestyle portal which attracts over 30,000 visits a week. The subsequent `Acting on Both Sides of the Atlantic' season (25-28 April 2013) picked up on transnational currents in Spanish cinema, presenting six linked films and three onstage interviews with actors Juan Diego and María Botto, Blanca Suárez and Carlos Areces, and Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba with audiences of 831. Press coverage includes features in El País (10/09/12), Living Spain (Autumn 2012), RTVE (28/09/12). The London Spanish Film Festival website hosts videos from both seasons.

In 2012, Sofía Serbin de Skalon, a publicist with over 10 years experience in the international film industry, invited Delgado to collaborate as a programming associate on a new Argentine Film Festival in London, with the aim of establishing a showcase for the best contemporary films from and about Argentina, as well as providing Londoners with a unique insight into Argentine culture. Its two editions have screened 19 features and 20 shorts across 4 venues (Ritzy Cinema 2012, 2013; Cineworld Haymarket, Hackney Picturehouse 2013) attracting audiences of c.1,600 in 2012 and c.1,800 in 2013. The festival has been well-covered by press both in the UK and Latin America with outlets including Evening Standard, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Huffington Post, Monacle24, Screen Daily, Time Out (Pick of the Week 2013 edition), and La Nación (Argentina). The festival website received over 8,000 unique visitors in the 6 months (Feb-July 2012) following its launch and 8,000 unique visitors in April 2013 alone, with an overall digital reach of 60 million in online newspaper and magazine coverage in 2013.

This activity shows how Delgado is actively bringing Spanish-language films to UK audiences. Many of the films selected for festival screenings are not otherwise available in the cinema, and were previously unknown outside the Spanish-speaking world.

III. Contributing creative and economic prosperity through consultancy and advocacy in the creative industries in the UK, Spain and Argentina

Delgado is one of the key drivers of our theatre in the UK &madsh; Marcos Ordóñez, El País (14/6/12)

Cultural organisations and directors in the UK, Spain and Argentina have solicited Delgado's advice on the staging of plays, or sought her knowledge of key figures in contemporary Hispanic theatre. She has consulted for The Globe London, Grec Festival Barcelona, Teatre Lliure Barce-lona, and Teatro El Extranjero Buenos Aires. Two examples of consultation work are detailed here.

Her documenting of Lorca's relationship with his lead actress Margarita Xirgu fed into Peter Sellars' production of Osvaldo Golijov's opera Ainadamar (Barbican Centre, 2008, Teatro Real Madrid, 2012), with Delgado providing a programme note for the 2008 staging and advising on the revisions to the libretto for 2012. Her contribution was recognised by Sellars in his comment that the production `owes its very existence to the weight and depth of Maria Delgado's work'.

Bijan Sheibani (Associate Director of the National Theatre) drew on Delgado's Federico García Lorca (2008) in staging The House of Bernarda Alba (opened Almeida Theatre, London 19 Jan. 2012). Delgado advised on the choice of translation and the re-situating of the play from 1930s Andalusia to contemporary Iran and provided a programme note. The 77 press reviews, preview features and recommendations published in the UK, USA and Spain commented on the `inspired' resituating of the play (Evening Standard, 2/2/12; Independent 4/2/12; The Times, 30/1/12), its `clarity' (Guardian 28/1/12) and a `thrilling staging, eloquent and justified' (Time Out, 31/1/12). The production played at 93.6% capacity over 54 performances (16,582 spectators). Delgado has further advised Sheibani on Tirso de Molina's Damned by Despair at the National Theatre (Olivier auditorium, opened 11/10/12), providing research materials, discussing ideas about `this challenging work' (Guardian 12/10/12) and the Golden Age stage, authoring a programme note (`weighty essay' Daily Express 12/10/12) and providing detailed feedback in preview. The production was seen by 29,972 people, reviewed in 26 print and 5 online publications (`a damned interesting way to spend an evening', Daily Telegraph 12/10/12), and generated 24 preview pieces including `Hot tickets in London' ( and `Theatre pick' (Financial Times).

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Associate Director, National Theatre (CONSULTANCY AND ADVOCACY)
  3. Director of Ainadamar (Barbican 2008, Teatro Real Madrid 2012) (CONSULTANCY AND ADVOCACY)
  4. Deputy Editor, Sight & Sound (OPENING UP PUBLIC DISCOURSE)
  5. Director, Grec Festival (2006-11), Director of Usina del Arte, Buenos Aires (2012) (OPENING UP PUBLIC DISCOURSE, CONSULTANCY AND ADVOCACY)