‘Una desenfrenada danza irlandesa’: Brendan Behan’s The Hostage in Spain

Catherine Margaret O'Leary*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on Irish and Spanish theatre scholarship, translation studies and the censorship files held at the Archivo General de la Administración in Alcalá de Henares, this article considers the case of Irish writer Brendan Behan and the staging of his play The Hostage/El rehén by various independent theatre groups in Spain in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were attracted to Behan because of his subversive themes and his notoriety as a working-class militant republican. The reception of his work by critics and authorities, however, was not always as harsh as might be expected. This case study, though focused on a single play and author, contributes to our understanding of the place of foreign drama in the history of Spanish political theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-138
Number of pages30
JournalAnales de la literatura española contemporánea
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Brendan Behan
  • Irish drama
  • Independent theatre
  • Censorship
  • Franco regime


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