The Actress in the Square

“To the great Margarida Xirgu, actress with an immaculate artistic career, a genius of Spanish theatre and an admirable creator”—Federico García Lorca. The free spirit of these words by Spain’s greatest poet, inscribed in the stone before this sculpture, reveal better than any the immense talent and art of this famous Catalan actress.

She was born in 1888, began acting professionally in the company of Josep Santpere (another important figure in Catalan theatre) before forming her own in the Teatre Romea (across the street from this sculpture). In 1914 she moved to Madrid, where she collaborated closely with Lorca, premiering in almost all of his major plays such as Yerma and Blood Wedding. In 1939, after a South-American tour of the former’s works, the fascist victory in Spain forced her to remain in exile in Chile and Uruguay, where she died in 1969.

The balanced abstraction of this piece conjures the easy grace and lively spirit of a talented performer and energetic intellectual. There is a suggestion of arms raised in a Yerma-esque entreaty to the fertile moon in the upper section—although instead of that character’s plea for pregnancy, this actress might identify with a fuller idea of the female principle embodied there through the trunk-like strength of the lower torso. The piece’s stark profile redefines its Gothic environment as Xirgu would have reinvented her stage space according to the needs of her performance, a perfect fit between form and space, figure and scenario.

Statue in memory of Margarida Xirgu by Eudald Serra, 1988. Plaça Canonge Colom, off C/ Hospital, opposite Teatre Romea.


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