Alfonso Vallejo is a contemporary Spanish playwright who has also flourished in other domains, including poetry and painting, as well as being a neurologist. He has been a significant contributor to the world of Spanish theatre, publishing over 30 plays during his career, many of which have been translated and performed overseas.
Alfonso Vallejo was born in the city of Santander in the Spanish region of Cantabria in 1943. During his school career, he studied at the Liceo Francés in the Spanish capital of Madrid, where between 1950 and 1961, he studied for both the French baccalauréat and the Spanish bachillerato. Vallejo was inspired by his teacher, Mr. Bihoreau, after he read a passage from Invitation au voyage by Baudelaire in class. Vallejo realized that in this work by Baudelaire, one can find the things that are missing from life. And so from here onwards, Vallejo decided to follow his vocation: to create action by painting with words, and understanding what it is that makes man.
During the summers of 1958, 1962 and 1963, Alfonso Vallejo spent his time in the UK, including Ushaw-Moor and Darlington in County Durham as well as in London. He also spent some time in a number of other European countries, often working in hospitals, and as a result, he can write proficiently in a number of different languages. It is from here that his career can be split into two halves: his medical career and his literary career.
Vallejo got his medical degree after he went to study in Madrid from 1961 to 1966, and in 1968 he took the Foreign Medical Examination so that he could practice medicine in the US. Two years later, Alfonso Vallejo finished his medical specialization in neurology and in 1977, he presented his theses for his doctorate in medicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
From 1971 to 1973, Vallejo worked as an assistant neurology professor in Madrid, before being made a head of Clinical Neurology in one of the leading hospitals in the capital. From 1975 to 1985, he worked as an associate neurology professor at the Complutense University in Madrid, and in 1985, he received the title of Professor of Medical Pathology; a position which he still occupies to this day. Over the years, he has also worked with a number of professionals and specialists in various European cities including London, Paris and Berlin.
Alfonso Vallejo began writing poetry and theatrical works in the year 1957. His first play was called Cycle, written in 1961, which was later directed by Vallejo himself in 1963 with a group of French actors at the French Institute in the city of Madrid. He worked as the Director of the University Theatre at the Complutense University of Madrid between 1962 and 1964 as well.
Vallejo wrote a significant number of plays during the 1960s and 70s, some of which remained unpublished for many years. Some of these plays include La sal de la tierra, El Bernardo, La Mentala, El Tiznao, and El desterrado. He also cultivated his artistic talent in other domains, including writing large amounts of poetry and learning how to paint skillfully.
Alfonso Vallejo has written a substantial amount of plays, and most of his works have been translated into other languages including English, French, German and Arabic; of course it is always worth taking some Spanish classes in order to understand his works in their original form. Furthermore, thanks to these translations, his plays have been performed and enjoyed throughout the world.
For his contribution to contemporary Spanish theatre, he has received a number of awards including the second prize in the Lope de Vega Prize in 1975 for Acido Sulfúrico, the National Lope de Vega Prize in 1976 with El Desgüace, and the International Tirso de Molina Prize in 1978 for his work A tumba abierta. Some of his most famous plays include Fly-By (1973), El cero transparente (1979), Gaviotas Subterráneas (1983), and Sol ulcerado (1983). Below is a brief synopsis of each of these plays.
Fly-By - This play concerns the story of a man named Baltasar who believes that man can fly. After trying and failing numerous times, his madness is picked up by other people. Collectively they begin to fly, but some fall leading to disastrous consequences. The play's main themes are power, reality and illusion.
El cero transparente - Concerning the train journey of a group of people to a metaphorical place called Kiu, this play deals with freedom and possibility. Eventually the characters realize that freedom is possible, albeit with a price.
Gaviotas Subterráneas - Two old friends meet up after a long period, only to find out that one of them is planning on staging an accident using a dead body in order to make a false insurance claim. The resulting clash between the two main characters provides a very unexpected ending.
Sol ulcerado - Love and family are the main themes of this play. It deals with a family who undergo a tragic split after one of the main characters, Choco, falls in love with his step-mother.