José Luis Alonso de Santos is a contemporary Spanish playwright who has had a significant impact on the world of theatre in Spain, not only by producing plays, but also by directing plays and founding various organizations related to the literary genre. Furthermore, he has also delved into the realms of narrative and script writing.
José Luis Alonso de Santos was born in Valladolid, in the Spanish region of Castilla y León, in 1942. In 1959, he moved to Madrid where he studied Information Sciences and Philosophy and Literature at the Complutense University. From 1960, he became interested in the world of interpretation, receiving classes from William Layton. Just 4 years later, in 1964, Alonso de Santos began his theatrical and artistic career when he joined the Teatro Experimental Independiente. In this theatre group, as well as many others, he worked as an actor, director and playwright. He later founded the Asociación Teatro Libre, which he ran until it was disbanded in 1981.
His first performance as an actor was in ¡Viva el Duque, nuestro dueño! in 1975, closely followed by other appearances in La verdadera y singular historia de la Princesa y el Dragón and El álbum familiar. The latter was adapted from El tragaluz by Antonio Buero Vallejo, but was given a much more positive tone, substituting the catastrophic finale with a more free and open-ended one.
The 1980s and 1990s saw many works by and including José Luis Alonso de Santos hit the stage. Just some of the plays that were performed during this time are La última pirueta in 1986, Fuera de quicio in 1987, and Pares y Nines in 1989. Alongside Gerardo Malla and Rafael Álvarez, he helped found the theatre production company 'Pentación' in 1988. In 1990, the play Trampa para pájaros signified Alonso de Santos' first step into comedy theatre.
José Luis Alonso de Santos has also written various cinema and television scripts as well as a handful of children's stories and novels. His works have been read and translated in various countries outside of Spain; although nothing beats taking some Spanish classes in order to understand them in their original form. Furthermore, he has also directed various theatrical works by playwrights like Brecht, Valle Inclán, Shakespeare and Plato, as well as his own plays.
He is currently the head of Dramatic Writing at the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático of Madrid as well as the director of the National Classical Theatre Company since June 2000. His latest works as a theatre director have included La dama duende by Calderón de la Barca and Peribáñez y el comendador de Ocaña by Lope de Vega.
José Luis Alonso de Santos has always taken a practical and technical approach to theatre, exploring his experiences in the world of contemporary Spanish theatre in the theoretical book La escritura dramática in 1999. In this book he addresses both the creation of dramatic pieces as well as the interpretation of these pieces. José Luis Alonso de Santos is therefore a great author for those who want to study Spanish theatre as well as those who want to study the theory of theatre.
The theatrical works of José Luis Alonso de Santos is mostly influenced by feelings from within the author himself, such as his desires, worries and impulses. For him, these are the means by which he can be creative, the finished product of which can never be free from a purpose. He believes that writers and artists not only create art, but they also provide their opinions on their art. According to Alonso de Santos, all art should be full of memory, fantasy, emotions and feelings true to the artist, who in the end inevitably transmits his own personal message.
In recognition of his contribution to contemporary Spanish theatre, José Luis Alonso de Santos has been awarded a number of prizes and awards, including the City of Valladolid Prize in 1977, the Gayo Vallecano Prize in 1981, the Tirso de Molina Prize in 1984, the National Theatre Prize in 1986, the City of Cazorla Prize in 2003, and the Castilla y León Literature Prize in 2009.