Jacinto Higueras Cátedra: Last surviving member of Lorca's 'la Barraca' theatre group

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The Independent Online

Jacinto Higueras Cátedra was the last surviving member of Federico García Lorca's legendary student theatre group la Barraca.

Funded by Spain's fledgling left-wing Republican government in 1931, la Barraca ["the shack"] was created with the aim of touring through Spain from the largest city to the smallest hamlet, putting on the country's greatest plays for free.

It was a simple concept that proved hugely successful. At home and abroad, la Barraca came to symbolise Republican ideals of democratising the Spanish theatre by making it accessible to what García Lorca called "el pueblo más pueblo" - "the most genuine of the Spanish people".

In one of the group photos of la Barraca, Higueras Cátedra can be seen seated alongside García Lorca. Wearing the workers' overalls used as a uniform by la Barraca's actors, a large beret and – despite being barely out of his teens – with a pipe clasped firmly in his mouth, he looks every inch the budding 1930s artist.

Both Higueras Cátedra and his brother Modesto, who also joined, were key members of la Barraca, remaining with the group from its earliest days in the University of Madrid in the summer of 1932 to its untimely end during the long build-up to the Civil War in 1936.

"It was an unforgettable experience," Higueras Cátedra would later write, "García Lorca managed to turn us students, mostly unfamiliar with the theatre, into actors who were as convincing as real professionals. He also gave us a real sense of cameraderie, to the point where even if we'd have a leading role in one play, we wouldn't mind having the smallest part in the next."

"Putting on those plays in those villages across Spain was a marvellous thing to do, and I think for the villages themselves the plays must have been like a ray of light in a fog of forgetfulness and oblivion."

After the Civil War ended in 1939, Higueras Cátedra began a career as a director of student theatre groups as well as making brief incursions into the world of theatre, film – where he worked with Luis Buñuel – and opera. However, from 1959 onwards Higueras Catedra decided to concentrate on sculpting full-time, the same profession as his father. He proved highly successful, his work exhibited on numerous occasions in Spain and abroad. At the same time he lectured in universities in the United States, Canada and South America and carried out important research into new sculpting materials.

Decades later, even when his acting days were long behind him, Higueras Cátedra still had not forgotten his links with García Lorca. In 2000 he made a series of engravings, based on four original García Lorca drawings, entitled "Memories of la Barraca" – a moving personal homage to one of the cornerstones of 20th century Spanish culture.

Alasdair Fotheringham



Jacinto Higueras Cátedra, sculptor and actor: born Santisteban del Puerto, Spain 7 January 1914; married 1953 Ana María Rodríguez Aragón (died 2009; two daughters); died Las Rozas de Madrid, Spain 25 December 2009.

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