In June 1996, at a private ceremony held in Barcelona at the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya (Palace of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia), amid the pomp, circumstance, and political rhetoric customarily associated with state occasions, I watched with awe and curiosity as the president of Catalonia Jordi Pujol bestowed the Creu de Sant Jordi, his nation's most coveted medal of honor, upon a distinguished group of men and women whose accomplishments extend from the spheres of art and music to business and athletics. The prestigious Creu was established in 1982, in Pujol's words, "to pay public homage to those who have contributed to the promotion and exhalation of the civic and cultural values of Catalonia," and among this year's most deserving recipients were several theater professionals: the companies Comediants and Dagoll Dagom, director/critic Ricard Salvat i Ferré, and, perhaps, most intriguingly, actress Carlota Soldevila, one of Catalonia's most extraordinary performers, who delivered a moving acceptance speech on behalf of all forty-two 1996 award recipients. Soldevila spoke of the censorship and suppression of her culture that she and her colleagues had endured under Franco and the revitalization and re-legitimation of that culture in democratic times. Indeed, since Franco's death in 1975, the theater has played a significant role in reconstructing and remapping the cultural identity of this region. Correspondingly, the (re)constitution of Catalonia as a nation within the Spanish state is an issue that has occupied a central position in the work of director Albert Boadella and his theater company Els Joglars. In the essay that follows, I shall use Els Joglars as a point of departure in order to illustrate how contemporary Catalan politics and culture - especially theater - often converge in paradoxical ways.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1998

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1998 Gestos. This article first appeared in Gestos 25 13 (Spring 1998): 80-96.

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