(Kathleen Massara’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/16; via Pam Green.)
The Spanish film star and theater director was known for taking chances in her politics, in her private life and on the stage.
Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people that never found their way into the newspaper.
When Margarita Xirgu met Federico García Lorca in the summer of 1926 at a bar in Madrid, he was a fledgling playwright and a questionable investment for most producers.
But Xirgu, a Catalan actress and director who was also a lesbian and a political radical, was known for her willingness to take risks. She accepted the challenge, and staged Lorca’s “Mariana Pineda” in Barcelona the next year, with costumes by the artist Salvador Dalí.
The play was a hit, and it cemented a friendship between Lorca and Xirgu, who became instrumental in staging and exporting his work in the early years of the 20th century. Lorca went on to become one of Spain’s most admired writers.
“She took a big chance on him,” said Christopher Maurer, a Lorca scholar at Boston University. “He wasn’t a playwright; he was a poet.” Because of her left-leaning views, he said, “people called her ‘Margarita La Roja’ ” — Margarita the Red, a Communist threat to Gen. Francisco Franco’s right-wing dictatorship.