Latin American Theatre
Translations by Prof Charles Philip Thomas

Obituary (Obituario)


translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas

CAST: 2 male (one impersonates a female character for a good part of the play)

SCENIC REQUIREMENTS: A second floor apartment with a window.

GENRE: One act drama (65 minutes)


A reclusive old playwright, Rudolph Gottlieb, has agreed to an interview with Julia Serpe, reporter for the New York Times. She shows up ``unexpectedly'', as he had forgotten the interview, and they begin to discuss his life in theatre. The journalist reveals that the newspaper has decided to allow him to write his own obituary. The discussion turns ugly as the ``journalist'' pursues the matter of a said Adam Ludmann who was dismissed as an actor in the playwright's last production. Julia Serpe reveals herself to be in reality, Adam Ludmann, who has come to demonstrate his acting talents to the playwright and to seek revenge by killing him. There is a struggle, the gun he had brandished goes off and he appears to be dead. However, the gun was a stage prop and he gets up laughing at how he had fooled the old playwright. Adam Ludmann then indicates that the real Julia Serpe is about to arrive. He leaves and the ``real'' Julia Serpe shows up. Soon it is revealed that the ``real'' one is once again Adam Ludmann in disguise and he drags the ``body'' of Julia Serpe halfway through the door. He reveals that he has intended to murder both of them that day. Through a series of arguments, and a quick switch of the stage gun for a real one, the playwright convinces the actor to finish his last play that he has been unable to finish, and to act out the ending which has the protagonist committing suicide. The actor does this. The playwright lunges to the door to escape only to discover that the ``body'' of Julia Serpe is also a stage prop and that the actor had intended to do nothing more than demonstrate his acting ability. At this point there is a surprise ending and then an epilogue with an alternate ending in case the reader/director is not satisfied.


The play explores the roles of playwrights, actors, and directors as seen from the perspective of the old playwright. ``Actors and even actresses are a necessary evil, although indispensable. of theatre.... As for directors, I prefer not to talk about them. They're the major cause of discord. They have carried out a revolution against the elements of theatre, and they have established an almost Latin American dictatorship... (As for actors) I don't hate them, I can't stand them, because one by one they have robbed me of my characters. When I write a play, I live in my characters and I live for them. But when the actors lend their bodies and voices they make them fade from my mind, as if they had murdered them, but beforehand they were immeasurably better.''

Country :Mexico

Guillermo Schmidhuber
Works  in Translation by
Prof. Charles Philip Thomas