Las Ideas

ES > FR / NL

22/05 – 20:30
23/05 – 20:30
24/05 – 18:00
25/05 – 18:00
27/05 – 20:30
28/05 – 20:30
29/05 – 20:30
30/05 – 20:30

Federico León, a leading figure on the Argentine avant-garde scene, is familiar to audiences in Brussels as much for his theatrical films as for his astonishingly cinematic theatre productions. In 2015, the director and producer is returning to the Kunstenfestivaldesarts with the world premiere of a new creation. Las Ideas draws us into the life and mental universe of an artist. We see the transformation of an idea at work from the inside: how it takes shape, grows and acquires a definitive expression. Sometimes real life suddenly breaks into the creative process, but just as often, it is the artistic experiences that rub off on everyday life. Abstract ideas and concrete events influence each other like in a furious game of ping pong. Las Ideas is a captivating show on beginnings and new beginnings. The artist’s memory is the only thing linking everything together for us until, that is, his memory starts to fail…

Text & direction
Federico León

Julián Tello & Federico León

Performers on video
Alejandra Manzo, Maitina De Marco, Pablo Gasloli, Alejandro Ini, Barbara Irisarri, Ana Maria Monti, Patricia Russo, María Laura Santos, José Maria Seoane, Alfredo Staffolani, Martín Tchira, Emanuel Torres, Antonella Querzoli, Gabriel Zayat

Direction assistance
Rodrigo Pérez, Rocío Gómez Cantero

Rodrigo Pérez, Rocío Gómez Cantero

General assistance
Melisa Santoro Aguirre

Set design
Ariel Vaccaro

Music & sound design
Diego Vainer

Lighting design
Alejandro Le Roux

Paola Delgado

Technical coordination
Matías Iaccarino

Maria Laura Berch

Ignacio Iasparra

Performer for rehearsals
Ignacio Rogers

Video camera & photography
Guillermo Nieto

Video art director
Mariela Ripodas

Video object making
David D’Orazio

Video sound design
Diego Vainer

Andres Pepe Estrada

Video assistance
Malena Juanatey

Guillermo Saposnik

Alejandro Soler

Technical consulting
Paula Cotton, Agustin Genoud

Judith Martin, Carlota Guivernau

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Iberescena (Spain), El Cultural San Martín (Buenos Aires), FIBA Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires, Fundación Teatro a Mil (Santiago de Chile), La Bâtie – Festival de Genève, Festival D’Automne à Paris – Théâtre de La Bastille, La Villette - résidence d’artistes (France)

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Las Ideas

“For a moment, we can go inside the head of an artist, immerse ourselves in his ideas through the prism of his computer. We see how he writes, deletes, corrects and surfs the web. We discover his archives, his mechanisms of association, organisation, the way things are ordered and disordered.” (Federico León)

In Las Ideas, Federico León invites us to share the intimacy of a creative process, immersing ourselves in the heart of decision-making and selection mechanisms that result in the creation of a show. Is it about him, his ideas or his questions? While he goes on stage and appears to play his own role, the answer might seem obvious. But the origins of the work will teach us more about it than the search for a slightly superficial solution to this question of identity. Working on the dynamics of the selfportrait, León creates this piece in close association with his teaching in the workshops he has been running for several years. Based on selfobservation, on the systematic debriefing of situations being played out, being composed, these theatre workshops are primarily seeking to make their participants reflect on the process of performance, on the singular place each one occupies at the heart of a mechanism of theatrical creation. Intensive rehearsal as an event, grasping and reprising spontaneous material belonging to improvisation – whether it concerns gestures or texts – are the fundamentals of the creative process that has sustained him since his early pieces. Often described as “raw”, combining cruelty and crudity from elsewhere, León’s theatre has invariably involved staging material that is not specifically theatrical (1500m sobre el nivel de Jack, El Adolescente, Museo Miguel Angel Boezzio, Yo en el futuro). As if taking a step back in relation to his own practice, Federico León gives himself some distance and has fun with placing himself in a situation of “constrained” self-analysis as much as he makes people reflect on it. While the workshop is a protected place without risk, where no result is expected, he decides to “make a show” out of this principle of dialectical observation. Inevitably, since it is about theatre, the crucial question that needs to be debated once again will be that of performance.

“The artist and his collaborator subject themselves to ordeals through which they seek to determine what should be the reality in a play or what needs to happen so that the play appears real.” (Federico León)

With (great) humour and (great) intelligence, León stages the supposed presentation of fiction in the process of being materialised. The ideas begin again, linked together, cancelling one another out or leading to the next one. Quick as a flash, like table tennis. He continually teases the boundary between reality and fiction with a game moving to and fro between what is said and what is happening, between what is shown and what is being recorded. Through a mechanism of successive funnels, the play gives an account of the mise en abyme of reality caused by the progressive shift towards fiction. “In a scene where they drink whisky, is it preferable for it to be real whisky or would it be better to drink tea that looks like whisky?” wonders León. And we ourselves will wonder what kind of whisky is being drunk! Because it is wonderful to lose yourself in the meanderings of this parable that, because it is presenting what might be a fiction, naturally ends representing it… If you wanted to be serious about it, you could say that Federico León is tackling the ancestral figure of a theatre that questions its own mimetic essence and, without ever naming them, he takes what creates the plausible and the necessary that guided Aristotelian mimesis back to the drawing board. You could say again that by playing with the most contemporary codes that have perfectly integrated the notions of presence or presentation(in itself already transgressive “old cases” from the 1960s and 1970s), he finishes without appearing to touch on it by reminding us of one of the greatest semantic dramas in the history of western theatre. Namely that opsis (theatrical performance) and mimesis (imitation of reality) have often been reduced in the same univocal translation: that of performance. It is in a differentiated treatment, but one that serves the other, that León manages to make a spectacle of his relationship with reality. But while all that is perhaps true, it is possibly not the best approach. For León makes things simple, makes things brief, and then again he makes people laugh. The economy of the word, of the gestures, of the image is enough to make each person think.

“Him: It matters little to me to know whether it exists or not. What’s important is that it’s plausible. That you can believe it. It would please me if it’s a video that appears real but isn’t. You could show everything on stage like a video on the internet. We could also put it on the internet for real. Let’s put it on YouTube so that it exists.” (Excerpt from the firstscene in Las Ideas)

When YouTube becomes the vector for access to existence, we remember that Federico León is a theatre director as much as he is a video director and film-maker. The processes he develops here on stage are enriched by a use of images that he has mastered while making films. The creation of the image, its manipulation and its use add to the interlocking of perceptions of reality, to disguising it. It is also a mechanism of disguise in that it is filmed and then immediately revealed, which opens up the show and gives a large part of it its theme. The power of the image as a tool of transformation as much as of revealing truth literally finds itself theatricalised. A two-fold consequence. Not only does it emerge reinforced because it has been emphasised, but this weight of the image itself becomes the issue of a perceptible, physical confrontation when it comes into the contact with a spectator combined with the device in front of and behind the camera. However, irony again and technical virtuosity presented as such prevent León from falling into a “simple” intellectual demonstration, as they free it of pretension.

“Him: Good and now we’re displaying images in which people see us displaying other images. And at the same time, we’re filming it all. What would that be like? It’s making me feel sick.” (Excerpt from the first scenein Las Ideas)

This nausea suffered by the avatar of flesh and bone that Federico León gives himself is resolved by the intervention of the third character in the play. A machine that has become autonomous, the computer will use its own syntax. Unaware of the rules of the plausible, it breaks with the boundaries of reality imposed by the artist and his collaborator. After having materialised the erratic circuits of what could be a life-sized production notebook, Federico León gives free rein to an imagination that will have the last word. After all, we are still in the theatre... Behind a fourth wall that came down long ago, but whose eternal awareness of its fall creates perhaps a fifth, indeed a sixth across critical generations, the audience watches and is complicit in the explosion of the bubble of Ideas. Once more, everything is starting again...

Benoît Hennaut, April 2015

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Federico León (b. 1975) is from Buenos Aires. He has written and directed various theatre plays: Cachetazo de campo (Country Smack), Museo Miguel Ángel Boezzio (The Boezzio Museum), Mil quinientos metros sobre el nivel de Jack (Fifteen Hundred Feet Above Jack’s Level), El Adolescente (The Adolescent), Yo en el Futuro (Me in the Future), and Las Multitudes . He made his first film in 2002, Todo juntos (Everything Together), in which he was also an actor. In 2007, with Marcos Martinez, León wrote and directed his second film, Estrellas (Stars). And then in 2009, his third, Entrenamiento elemental para actores (Elementary training for actors), with Martín Rejtman. In 2014, he made La última película (The Last Movie), a series of interventions at former cinemas since turned into parking lots. He has won various awards for his work, and his plays and films have been shown at theatres and festivals in Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Scotland, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, USA, Japan, and Australia. As a professor of theatre, León has given workshops in Spain, France, Belgium, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Greece, and Argentina. Some of his plays, along with the script of Todo Juntos , and reviews, interviews, and texts about his creative process, were published in the book Registros (Registers). The work of Federico León has been presented at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts many times.

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