Virgilio Piñera (Cuba 1912-1979) was a prolific playwright, poet, novelist, essayist and short story writer. Famed for a sharp wit and an acid tongue, he was a polemicist who charted the extremes of human nature. Between 1946 and 1958 he lived mostly in Argentina returning to Havana just before the triumph of the Revolution. Although an enthusiastic supporter of the new Cuba, Piñera’s homosexuality and non-conformism led to his marginalisation during a well-documented period of recent Cuban history when homophobia and petty bureaucracy stifled creative freedom.
After Piñera’s death the process of posthumous rehabilitation began and his status in Cuba shifted from that of literary ghost to literary giant. The process of translating him to the outside world continues.

The publication of False Alarm in Cuba preceded the premiere in Paris, on 11th May 1950, of Eugene Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve – the play generally cited as being the first example of what became known as the European Theatre of the Absurd. Piñera added dialogue to False Alarm to lengthen it for the 1957 staging, (this then becoming the definitive version which appeared in later anthologies); by that time he had read La Cantatrice Chauve and did admit that it had coloured the writing of the additional scenes in False Alarm; this doesn’t however detract from the fact that the original version of False Alarm anticipated La Cantatrice Chauve by a good year.
·  More about “False Alarm”
· About the translator Kate Eaton
· Discover more plays and playwrights on the Out of the Wings database.