The Public

The Mask of El Publico

Federico Garcia Lorca titled his “un-performable” play that “belonged to the future” El Publico. This name could mean two things: el publico, the audience, or el publico, he who is public. Both meanings are two sides of the same coin, the beating heart of Lorca’s play-- and in naming this work, Lorca points to the connection between the audience and the creator, and the theater that looms in between them. The play itself draws on very personal themes in Lorca’s life, such as gay love and the hypocrisy of pretending, but is written very obscurely, in a style and tone that none of his other works carry. In this way, the form itself plays on this theme of el publico and el publico-- Lorca steps on stage to reveal his naked soul, yet covers his meanings with translucent words to shield his art from the criticizing eyes of the public.

The mask is also a common motif that is presented throughout the play. In the third scene, the character of the Director speaks on the use of masks, saying that “In the middle of the street, the mask buttons us up and lets us avoid that indiscreet blush which sometimes rises to our cheeks. In the bedroom, when we stick our fingers in our nose or delicately explore our rear, the plaster of the mask...

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