Gregorio Martínez Sierra

Gregorio Martínez Sierra

Gregorio Martínez Sierra (1881-1947), Spanish writer, dramatist and theatre director.

A key figure in the revival of the Spanish theatrical avant-garde in the early twentieth century, Gregorio Martínez Sierra was one of the few progressive dramatists whose productions achieved any measure of commercial success. Though his own plays were not distinguished by any notable originality, his contribution as a publisher and director was substantial. Through his publishing house, the aptly named "Renacimiento", he translated Shakespeare and Maeterlinck and introduced the work of European playwrights including Bernard Shaw and Pirandello to Spain. As the director of Madrid's Teatro Eslava, Spain’s first art theatre, between 1917 and 1925 he produced both Spanish and foreign works in new styles, and it was at his invitation that Federico García Lorca created and staged, at the Eslava, his first play, "El maleficio de la mariposa" (The Curse of the Butterfly), in 1920.

Martinez Sierra's most famous play is the sentimental "Canción de cuna" (Cradle Song), originally produced in Spain in 1911, a play that was quite popular with the public, both in Spanish and English-speaking countries. It is a story of a group of nuns who bring up a baby girl left on the doorstep on their convent. They name her Teresa, and the final scene takes place about twenty years later, as Teresa is leaving the convent to get married, and the nun who brought her up, Sister Joanna of the Cross, is reluctant to let her go rather than have her stay and become a nun. The play was produced successfully on Broadway in 1927, and later became one of the few famous Spanish plays to be made into an English-speaking Hollywood film. This was done by Paramount in 1933, and the film starred Dorothea Wieck (in her English-film debut) as Sister Joanna, and Evelyn Venable as the adult Teresa. It was directed by Mitchell Leisen and featured some of the cast and creative team who later worked on the more successful Death Takes a Holiday - among them Ms. Venable, Guy Standing, and Kent Taylor.

The 1933 "Cradle Song" has gone unseen for years, never revived on television or movie houses, and never appearing in any TV movie guide book. It has also never been issued on videocassette or DVD. No one has ever claimed that the film is lost, but on the other hand, no one ever screens it either.

After the 1933 "Cradle Song", there were at least five more film versions, all made in Spanish, the most recent being a 1994 color version. Martinez Sierra himself directed one of the film versions. The play was also presented in English twice on the television anthology series "Hallmark Hall of Fame".

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  • Martínez Sierra —   [mar tinɛθ si̯ɛrra], Gregorio, spanischer Schriftsteller, * Madrid 6. 5. 1881, ✝ ebenda 1. 10. 1947; Lyriker, Romancier, Journalist, Dramatiker und Theaterdirektor (seit 1915); lebte von 1931 bis kurz vor seinem Tod in Hollywood. Als Übersetzer …   Universal-Lexikon

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