CARLOS W. SÁENZ (1956 - )

10.13.14/05 > 20:00
11/05 > 15:00
Duration: 60'
Eng, Fr, Nl

“Do we Argentines still have an identity? If so, then what is it built on? On blindness and plenty of amnesia…”

A former member of the theatre collective El Periférico de Objetos, Alejandro Tantanian lives in Buenos Aires where he is an author, actor, director and singer. His new theatre project offers an exploration-cum-fiction of an Argentine biography.

Carlos W. Saenz (1956 - ) is an anonymous person hidden in History. Those close to him recall his life by delving into their memories. Their versions of it differ. What do they recreate – reality or their own mythologies?

Carlos W. Saenz has an e-mailaddress: don't hesitate to contact him! He is missing, but he answers...

Conceived by:

Alejandro Tantanian, Jorge Macchi & Edgardo Rudnitzky


Ernesto Berardino, Hendrik De Smedt, Alejandro Tantanian.

Text & Direction:

Alejandro Tantanian


(Esp > En & D): Silvia Fehrman

Sound design & Composer on stage:

Edgardo Rudnitzky

Space design, objects, photos & videos:

Jorge Macchi

Recorded voices:

Maria Marta Colusi, Luciano Suardi, Galin Stoev


Alejandro Le Roux


KunstenFESTIVALdesArts - Hebbel-Theater team - Mousonturm team - Akademie Schloss Solitude team - Tiziano Manca - Maria Marta Colusi - Silvia Hilario - Ernesto Donegana - Eduardo Gazzotti - Miguel Rothschild - Luciano Suardi - Haiku - Estomba Apartments - Rosetti Apartments - Maza Apartments and Ateliers - Judith Augustinovic - Martina Pickhardt - Christine Meisner - La Nely at Martinez's port - María Elena Portantiero - Klaus Fehling


Hebbel Theater (Berlin), Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt/Main), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Friendly supported by:

Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart)


KVS/de bottelarij, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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Carlos W. Sáenz was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 29 May 1956.

He has developed an enormous body of work since the 1970s. All have been works in progress and developments for a big piece of art that seems to be uncompleted – The Theatre of Melancholy, an enormous building to be constructed in the city of Buenos Aires. He rehearsed for this undertaking in different fields: music (he has composed an opera, some songs and a large amount of instrumental music), literature (he has written the lyrics to his own songs, the libretto for his opera, some essays on scientific research, etc.) and visual arts (he has done several sound installations, some pieces of video art, more than three hundreds drawings, etc.)

Facts concerning his fate are confused. He has disappeared from the city of Buenos Aires. Following this, three theories have been constructed with regard to his masterpiece, The Theatre of Melancholy: 1) that the theatre has never been built; 2) that the theatre has finally been constructed in a specific part of the city; 3) that the theatre is the city itself and the pillars of the building are hidden in seven sites in central Buenos Aires.

These questions – posed by the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts’ dramaturgy department – were sent to Sáenz and he sent us an e-mail with his answers on 31 March. He also told us – in the same e-mail – that he is really proud to know that his work is finally going to be shown to an audience and apologises for not coming to Brussels. He did not reveal where he actually is – he is still an enigma.

Macchi, Rudnitzky & Tantanian.

What was it exactly that you experienced, read or saw that triggered off the idea behind your creation?

Sadness. That’s what’s behind it. My project has always dealt with this problem – it’s not a new one for humankind. Everything seems to be corrupted by sadness; we are obliged to live in its kingdom. Sadness is my first and only ally. I have worked, am working and will work for it and against it.

Is the project positioned literally or metaphorically in the context of the society in which you live?

Literally. Metaphors are the property of cowards.

If it is, in what way?

I will answer this with another question (and forgive my bad mood). Are you happy? If your answer is YES, then you’re not part of this world. If your answer is NO, then you will understand perfectly well how my project is positioned in the context of society.

How is the performing arts scene organised in your country?

I have no country.

Where do you fit in this scene?

I am out of everything.

That was my problem, now it’s to my benefit.

If the starting point for your project is a piece of writing, what was it that triggered this choice of writer?

My sources are those existing under the memory of humankind. I never ask myself about my triggers (as you say).

I have no explanation for my acts: we do not explain to ourselves the law of gravity, we only have a name for it.

And my name is Carlos W. Sáenz. I cannot explain what is beneath the name.

Allow me to give you another quotation: “What is the remnant of an antique and disappeared rose? Only its name. And that is what we have: only names, naked names.”

If you are working with a piece of writing that doesn’t originally belong to theatre, how are you dealing with it to turn it into language for theatre?

That is the problem of theatre makers. I am a name, a naked one. There is no image for this name. So, it will be hard to find actions coming from a name. I am these words, nothing else.

What is the common theme running through your stage adaptation?

Melancholy is the blood running through our veins. And violence. And sadness. I hope the theatre adaptation (if there will be something like that) will take care of these different sorts of blood. Even further: I hope there will not be ‘a stage adaptation’, I would love to be presented as I am. I know you will ask me now: “And how are you?” But, unfortunately, I have no answer to that question.

What do you envisage having to do in order to best convey to the audience the content of your project? In other words, what do you consider to be important for exploring here in the theatrical form this project is assuming?

This project, as far as I know, is taking the form of a conference. These Argentine “artists” will talk about me and my work. I hope that the audience can enter into my work and share with me this eternal discontent. The content is myself. And my work speaks eloquently about me: this is not a common statement nowadays. I can not be divided from my work.

What means are you calling on for this?

The means are decided by the ‘artists’. I am the subject of their work. I cannot decide anything, I am a trace of myself. My only means is my way of being: invisibility.

What is it that you hate on a theatre stage?

Lies. People pretending to convince me they are other people. We are surrounded by that. What’s the point of going into a place and spending money in order to see what we are really tired of seeing?

What takes your breath away, what do you find most appealing about it?

The will of the audience pretending to believe in illusion.

What kind of relationship do you want there to be with the audience?

I want them to construct the final steps of my Theatre with me.

In your opinion, what role ideally should theatre have in contemporary society?

Ideally... it comes from idea. That is my answer to your question.

Why have you specifically chosen the theatre as a means of expression?

I have been chosen for theatre. I am not fond of it. These Argentines decided to present my work in the frame of a theatre festival. You should ask to them... I’m sure they won’t have an answer either.

What do you value most in human nature?

Machiavelli told me that the Prince should be half lion and half fox: the lion will give the Prince the force, but not the wisdom; and the fox will give the Prince the wisdom for using the force the lion gave Him.

What do you hate the most?

Avoiding life.

What do you consider to be the lowest level of deprivation?

Not to taste the flavour of the bitter tears that Melancholy brings to their sons.

Walking in life with an eternal smile, not even asking yourself why are you smiling.
Being deprived of sadness.

What do like doing most?

Inventing myself every day.

How do you see our world?

Through ashes and through small pieces of broken glass.

Carlos W. Sáenz has given us an e-mail address.

You may contact him if you wish, as he won’t be coming to Brussels.

He has told us that he would be delighted to receive any comments or messages you wish to send and would be proud to reply to them.

Carlos W. Saenz has an e-mailaddress: don't hesitate to contact him! He is missing, but he answers...

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