Federico García-Lorca's

A Puppetry-On-Film Project in Developement by
Bryan Papciak & Jeff Sias


In the early 1920s, poet Federico Garcìa-Lorca and composer Manuel de Falla envisioned producing a traveling puppet show which celebrated Andalusian poetic traditions and the bawdy jokes and primitive farce of medieval satires. Their project, which was to be called The Billy-Club Puppets of Granada, nevertheless proved to be too ambitious for the time and was never realized. Instead, they crafted their own version of The Tragicomedy of Don Cristòbal and Mistress Rosita, a classic Andalusian Punch & Judy story in which the bullyish, club-wielding Cristòbal takes the pining and swooning Rosita as an unwilling bride. Lorca wrote several variations of the farce, along with a number of other plays especially for puppet theatre and the productions were performed all over the world. Later, Lorca went on to write some of Spain's greatest theatrical tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba. What makes his work interesting is that while it is strongly rooted in traditions of the land and culture, it nevertheless deftly subverts and undermines the hypocrisy of an oppressive social regime. The poet's sophisticated audacity proved to be too controversial for Spain’s Franco government and Lorca was assassinated by fascist soldiers at the age of only 38.

The memory of Lorca’s death and the fame of his dramatic Tragedies has long eclipsed the satiric exuberance of some of his earlier work. Our film is an attempt to bring this lesser known side of Lorca – the simpler, lewder, and cruder side -- to the attention of contemporary audiences. The film is not about his martyrdom, but a celebration of his life and the exuberant, raw, and subversive spirit of his work.

CRISTOBICA is a live-action / mixed media / puppetry film intended primarily for release in the United States and Great Britain, augmenting the emerging interest in Lorca in both countries. It is also an attempt to invigorate the renewed interest in mainstream adult puppetry in general.


Stated simply, we have fused three of Lorca's puppet plays into one and are planning to stage and film a performance in or near Lorca's hometown of Granada in Andalusia. -- in the manner of an elaborately produced traveling puppet show.

Several puppeteers will be individually commissioned to design and build one of the characters from The Tragicomedy of Don Cristobal and Mistress Rosita. The play would be performed outdoors throughout a small village square, with its various buildings and arcades serving as the sets for appropriate scenes. Some puppeteers will work with traditional marionettes and rod-puppets, while others will employ more contemporary and experimental techniques. A flamenco singer and a small band of musicians will accompany the performance with some of Lorca's folk songs and an interpretation of Manuel De Falla's original score for the play. Scenes from two other Lorca puppet plays (Cristòbical and The Frame of Don Cristòbal) will be included as interstitial moments, along with some experimental impressions.

This film is basically two films intercut into one. The first concentrates exclusively on the narrative of the play and treats the puppets and plot as if it were a traditional live-action movie with actors. The second punctuates the narrative with wider documentary views that encompass the performance as a whole: puppeteers, audience, and mechanism.

Contact Bryan Papciak for further information