It is not widely known that Mario Vargas Llosa's literary career began with the theatre, a genre to which he is returning with increasing enthusiasm. As he has often stated in interview, ‘the theatre was my first love’, a love described picturesquely as ‘an ascesis, a slimming cure’.
‘La huida del Inca’ (‘The flight of the Inca’), a play in three acts, prologue and epilogue written at the age of 15 when still at school, marked his debut as a writer. It placed second in a national competition for schools run by the Ministry of Education, and was performed to great acclaim on 17 July 1952 in the Teatro Variedades in Piura, even being reviewed in the local press. It was never subsequently published.
Apart from this teenage effort, Vargas Llosa has published eight plays: The Young Lady from Tacna (La señorita de Tacna, 1981), Kathie and the Hippopotamus (Kathie y el hipopótamo, 1983), La Chunga (La Chunga, 1986), El loco de los balcones (‘The madman of the balconies’) (1993), Ojos bonitos, cuadros feos (‘Pretty eyes, ugly paintings’) (1996), Odiseo y Penélope (‘Odysseus and Penelope’) (2007), Al pie del Támesis (‘On the banks of the Thames’) (2008) and Las mil noches y una noche (‘The thousand nights and one night’) (2009).