No. 24 José Sanchis Sinisterra: THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD (El cerco de Leningrado).
Translated by. Mary-Alice Lessing. 2003.

José Sanchis Sinisterra, born in Valencia in 1940, is one of the most respected contemporary playwrights of the Spanish language. He is also a distinguished director, theoretician and teacher. The Siege of Leningrad, like Ay, Carmela!, is part of the author's "trilogy of the empty stage." It refers, metaphorically, to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Two old actresses reside in an abandoned theatre that will soon be destroyed to make way for a ramp to a parking garage. At first they are simply engaged in finding what remains of their past. The theatre had been home to their socialist collective dedicated to Marxist principles. But it had been closed after the mysterious death of the company's leading actor, who had been married to one of the women and was having an affair with the other. Priscilla, the wife, holds no grudges against Natalie; their focus now is on finding ways to preserve the theatre, their past, and their socialist ideals. As they rummage through the memorabilia and old costumes, they gradually unravel secrets from their history they had not known. When they unearth a copy of The Siege of Leningrad, the play their company was producing when it closed, their memories and their realities are shattered forever.

Two women, of advanced years.
One set: a bare stage.

The Siege of Leningrad had its premiere on 10 March 1994 at the Teatro Barakaldo in Bilbao, Spain. It was directed by Omar Grasso and starred Nuria Espert and María Jesús Valdés. Following a tour in Spain and Argentina, in October 1994 it reached Madrid, where it was performed at the María Guerrero National Theatre. In French translation, it was performed at the Colline National Theatre in Paris 3 May to 22 June 1997. The French production was directed by Dominique Poulange and starred Judith Magre and Emmanuelle Riva.


María Jesús Valdés and Nuria Espert in The Siege of Leningrad, María Guerrero National Theatre, Madrid. October 1994, dir. Omar Grasso. Photo: Manuel Martínez Muñoz.

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