Spanish actor, puppeteer and impresario of a máquina real (a genre of puppet theatre, usually with elaborate staging and religious themes) whose activity was documented between 1689 and 1735. Francisco Londoño alternated between actor and puppeteer in a touring company. As maquinista (impresario of the máquina real) he gave shows in the open-air theatres of the principal Spanish cities. His habitual presence in the theatres of the Spanish Court during Lent (when shows by actors were forbidden) is proof of the prestige and success of his puppet performances. Londoño presented about thirty Lenten performances (there were none on Fridays) of four (in 1709) to nine (in 1710) different plays to the people of Madrid. The most successful was El esclavo del demonio o Santa María Egipciaca (The Slave of the Devil, or an Egyptian Saint Mary): it was always the first to be played and, normally, the one given the most performances.
The structure of the shows was similar to that of the actors’ performances: each started with a prologue (with music, in Londoño’s puppet theatre) followed by three acts of the play, with dances by the puppets in between (traditionally matachines and hachos). There is no documentation to prove that these shows were followed by a bullfight, as was habitual with this type of presentation, but it is certain that music (violins, bugles, drum) accompanied the action of the puppets.
The last notice we have of Londoño is of his Madrid show during Lent in 1735: from the following year a new maquinista, Juan de Plasencia, continued the work, perhaps with the same puppets and at least a part of Londoño’s repertoire: in 1737 the first show given by the new maquinista was San Antonio Abad.
- Jurkowski, Henryk. History of European Puppetry. Vol.1. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1996, pp. 163-166.
- Varey, J.E. Historia de los títeres en España [History of Puppets in Spain]. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1957. [S]