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Griselda Gambaro
(1928 - living) Argentina

Griselda Gambaro

Writer

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Daughter of Italian immigrant parents, Griselda Gambaro was born in Buenos Aires. Married with two children, she is one of Argentina's foremost contemporary dramatists, although she began her writing career as a novelist. She has travelled extensively to teach and write, and was obliged to spend the years between 1977 and 1980 in Spain in political exile following the banning of one of her books in Argentina.

Her theatre reveals the influence of the principal European dramatists of the 1950s, although themes are adapted to the contemporary Argentinian reality lived by Gambaro. Primary among these concerns are the existentialism that characterised the work of Camus and Sartre, and which is apparent in Gambaro's work through her portrayal of profound human solitude, anguish, and absolute lack of communication between its characters.

Critics have also observed parallels between her work and Becket's in that he too presented characters condemned to perpetual loneliness. Similarities with Pinter have also been suggested, particularly in the violent cruelty in which Gambaro's characters engage, a cruelty which the protagonist of the piece is incapable of comprehending.

It is of note, however, that although many of these elements lead to an association of her work with that of European authors, the denouncement of socio-political realities and practices in fact makes her drama closer to moral theatre than to avant-garde theatre. Clear parallels with the theatre of the absurd can also be suggested, even though Gambaro has rejected critical characterization of her plays as such.

Although more recently critics have begun to address the representation of women's issues in Gambaro's work, it is of note that her early theatre was apparently devoid of concern for the widespread oppression of women perceived to characterize Latin American society.

Her more contemporary productions, however, have tended to present more female characters, recognizing that it is more often the woman than the man who is the victim of the kinds of brutality and repression that are the hallmark of her work, which she herself has discussed in critical essays. Despite this lack of a specifically female or feminist focus, two of her early works in particular did explore the role and experiences of women in inter-personal relationships and lesbianism.

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Source: © Dr Shelley Godsland

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