Carmen de Zulueta

Madrid, 1916 – New York, 2010

Carmen de Zulueta embodied the spirit of Spanish institucionismo. Exile became her homeland right at the start of the Spanish Civil War. She worked as a teacher and lived most of her life in New York. From her house in the city she wrote her acclaimed monographs on the history of the Residencia de señoritas and of women’s education around the ILE.


Girls from the Free Institution of Education had their hair shaved short and wore boy’s corduroy trousers. They wore woollen tights and big calfskin country boots, like those that hikers wear.
Carmen Zulueta meticulously portrays her childhood in the heart of Madrid’s Free Institution of Education movement ("institucionismo"). Long days of learning in and outside the classroom, sport, and trips to the country. The ILE and the Boston, as it’s known today, in Miguel Ángel Street were her home. It is important to give a detailed portrait of that life before 1936 and to include the memory of the young institucionista who roamed the streets of Madrid and represented the modern European woman, emblem of the future, in the Spanish capital. A sister to the students at the Residencia de señoritas (the first official centre aimed at delivering university teaching to women in Spain), with whom she shared her teachers, the institucionista represented the future of female emancipation in Spain like no other.
Leaving Spain was dramatic for us Spaniards who studied at the Free Institution of Education. For our whole lives we had grown up in the parameters of a Europeanising Spain.
Without knowing a word of English Carmen de Zulueta began her exiled life in Norfolk as a Spanish teacher. The institucionismo of her childhood and youth gave her a great temperance to face the uncertain future of those who cannot return to their home country due to war and leave everything behind. From then on she will be aware of being a foreigner everywhere.
Who am I? I am two different people, the Spanish and the American.
After the years in England and Bogota, New York became Carmen Zulueta’s permanent home. Her first visit gave her similar impressions to those García Lorca experienced in 1929. The poet’s family welcomed her, representing, together with the family of Laura de los Ríos, her first ‘España peregrina’, a place of refuge where she could connect with the roots and identity from her childhood.

ACTRESS: Laura Arnáiz | SOURCE: La España que pudo ser. Memorias de una institucionista republicana. | DIRECTED BY: Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | SCRIPT: Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | PRODUCTION: Isabel Santafé, Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | CASTING: Cervantes Theatre | ARTISTIC DESIGN: Lucy Richards | COSTUME: O.La.La Vintage Wardrobe | HAIR & MAKE-UP: Charo Hairdressing | POSTPRODUCTION: Luke Hagan, Jonas Hawkins | SOUND: Luke Robinson | SET MANAGER: Jacob Saul | CAMERAS: Luke Hagan, Samuel Walker | EDITING: Ashley Thorpe | STILL PHOTOGRAPHY: Vanessa Miles | TRANSLATION: Isabelle Brown | VOICE ARROZ CON LECHE: Lisa Campos Sánchez.