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Theatre of Sabina Berman

Theatre of Sabina Berman

The Agony of Ecstasy and Other Plays

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Sabina Berman. Translated by Adam Versenyi. Essay by Jacqueline E. Bixler


Paperback (Other formats: NLEB)
200 pages, 6 x 9

Theater in the Americas


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About the Book

The Theatre of Sabina Berman: The Agony of Ecstasy and Other Plays introduces and makes accessible to an English-speaking audience the work of the contemporary Mexican playwright Sabina Berman. The book contains translations of the four plays that established Berman’s career: The Agony of Ecstasy, Yankee, Puzzle, and Heresy. An introduction by Adam Versényi provides a critical assessment of each play, a discussion of the specific problems of translation involved, and placement of Berman’s work in the larger Mexican and Latin American context.

It is evident that Sabina Berman’s theatrical acumen matches the depth of her dramatic design whether it is the sheer variety of techniques from song to staged tableau that appear in The Agony of Ecstasy; the physicalization of what it means to be interrogated and to interrogate in Yankee; the final enigmatic image of a soldier alone on stage, silently aiming his firearm at an undefined threat that potentially emanates from the audience in Puzzle; or the manner in which the family narrates its own “heretical” actions in Heresy. It is the combination of theatrical technique with universal themes of self-definition that cuts across cultures and ultimately makes these plays translatable.


Sabina Berman is Mexico’s most commercially successful and critically acclaimed female playwright. She has won the Mexican National Theatre Prize an unprecedented four times and has written film scripts, poetry, prose, and journalism in addition to her work for the stage. Her collection of interviews with Mexican women in positions of power, Mujeres y poder, won the 2000 National Journalism Award.

Adam Versényi is an associate professor of dramaturgy at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and the dramaturg for PlayMakers Repertory Company. His translations of plays by Agustin Cuzzani, Griselda Gambaro, and Sabina Berman have appeared in Modern International Drama, Performing Arts Journal, and Women and Performance. He is the author of Theatre in Latin America: Religion, Politics, and Culture from Cortes to the 1980s.


“During the past twenty years, Berman has become the most prolific, original, and daring of her theatrical generation. . . . Her productions [reveal] a fine flair for dialogue, a predilection for black humor and irony, distrust of all official discourse, an interest in personal and national identity, a need to transgress sexual and theatrical boundaries, and a profound awareness of the inherently theatrical nature of Mexican history and politics.”—Jacqueline E. Bixler, from her essay, “From Ecstasy to Heresy: The Theatre of Sabina Berman”