The Liminal Interstices of Buero Vallejo’s Aventura en lo gris

In this paper, I use Arnold van Gennep’s Rites of Passage, Victor Turner’s “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period” and “Liminal to Liminoid, in Play, Flow, and Ritual,” Gustavo Pérez Firmat’s Literature and Liminality, Jessica Folkart’s Liminal Fiction at the Edge of the Millennium, as well as works by Bjørn Thomassen, Mihai Spariosu, and Arpad Szakolczai to construct my theoretical approach to an analysis of Antonio Buero Vallejo’s Aventura en lo gris as a work of liminality.  Following Arnold van Gennep’s original conception of the three stages of rituals performed in small-scale societies as a part of rites of passage, I will examine how the characters and spectators of Aventura en lo gris, as “passengers” or “initiands,” fare on their journey through the rites of separation, transition, and re-aggregation in a nether land called Surelia.  The goal will be to examine the power of the liminal to provide both a creative and dangerous space in which individuals are free to self-reflect and transform or remain entrapped in the liminal realm.  I plan to address the following aspects of liminality in Aventura en lo gris: the communal dream (as immersion technique and liminal space), the importance of the color gray, the use of Debussy’s Sirenas as a conduit to, or threshold between, different times and worlds, the ludic and carnivalesque elements of the drama, the roles of the guide and the trickster, and the presence or absence of what Victor Turner termed communitas.  Viewing the drama through the lens of liminality will allow us to journey through a dystopian world from which only the strongest manage to emerge transformed.  

Panel: Expanding the Conceptual Framework of Liminal Spaces: Literature, Culture, and Film in 20th Century Spain

Organizer: Lisa Nalbone


  • Spanish Peninsular Studies