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15 The Lost Days: Languages and Landscapes of the Underworld


‘The upside-down world’ characterizes Western carnival in its inversion of social roles. However, the Mesoamerican world re-appropriates this inversion, turning it into an inversion of space, of the quincunce. The underworld comes up to the surface of the earth during the five days when the sun is absent and carnival takes place. In our current historical moment, the concept of the underworld takes on a powerful symbolic meaning.The underworld —a territory for the humid and putrid, a dwelling for all kinds of frightful beings and souls in transition toward rebirth— is the scenario we want to explore toward the elaboration of discourses, texts, and actions that tackle the present moment. The concept of the underworld and its relationship with humor will be put into tension with news stories published in local newspapers. The main goal is to investigate the possibility of generating textual, visual, spatial, and embodied languages that respond with urgency to the brutal events that occur daily in Mexico and Latin America.

Format and Structure:

We will begin by presenting, in broad strokes, the characteristics of Mesoamerican carnivals and their differences to Western or European carnivals. We will also work with the quincunce (the shape of the Mesoamerican universe) to locate the different strata and the beings that inhabit them. We hope to generate a discussion that results in a shared landscape, so we can define what we understand by “underworld” or how we create our own concept. Participants will then be given the task of selecting a news report from local papers and creating a “rewrite” (visual, text, sound, space, or embodied) that presents the notion of the underworld, keeping in mind the possibility of inserting humor into these textualities. All these textualities will have the possibility of being articulated as an urgent language in a collective performance to be presented at the end of the Encuentro.

Languages spoken/understood by conveners:

Spanish, English, and French.


Dr. Javiera Valentina Núñez Álvarez is an actor, playwright, director, and theatre scholar living in Mexico City since 2007. She got her BA in Arts at Universidad de Chile, and her MA and PhD in Latin American Studies at UNAM. She is a member of the Seminario Permanente de Estudios sobre la Escena y el Performance (SPEEP/UNAM). She is a member of MalaMadre, a theatre company that made its debut with the play “Un Gavilán para Violeta” at the Sala Novo in 2018. She teaches and researches theatre and has presented at conferences and colloquia in various countries; she also has several academic publications in the field of theatre arts. As an actor, she has participated in various plays in Chile and Mexico, with directors such as Guillermo Calderón, Raúl Osorio, Alejandra de la Sotta, Cristian Marambio, Adel Hakim and José Caballero.

Lucía Leonor Enríquez is a director, playwright, actor, and translator. She got her MA in Art History at UNAM, and her BA in Social Communications at the UAM. She was a Playwright Fellow at the Fundación para las Letras Mexicanas (2007–09) and received a Diplomado Nacional de Estudios de Dramaturgia CONACULTA-INBA. She participated in EL MILAGRO’s emerging theatre cycle and the 6th “Young Playwrights Week” in Querétaro. She translated “After Miss Julie” by Patrick Marber and “Rose” by Martin Sherman, and both plays were directed for the stage by Sandra Félix. She published her plays “Nadie se va a reír” with the Fondo Editorial Tierra Adentro, “Lizzie Borden” in the Cuadernos de Dramaturgia Mexicana de Paso de Gato, and “Faggot y Fanny” in Grafías contra el planisferio paginado: Antología de dramaturgia mexicana actual, published by UNAM.

Carla Romero Martínez is an actor, playwright, and director, and is currently a member of the Malamadre company. She earned her BA in acting from the Universidad Católica de Chile. She has distinguished herself as an actor in plays such as “Villa + Discurso” by Guillermo Calderón and “La Negra Ester” by Andrés Pérez. As a director, she has made her mark through her collaborative works, “1896... un año par”, “Dos”, and “Nací”, in which she experimented with dance and different languages in conjunction with choreographer Elizabeth Rodríguez. In 2013 she wrote and staged “Oriente” with Compañía ColectivoMicro. In 2014 she premiered “Curación”, in 2015 she wrote and directed “Tren al Sur” with Creativa Sonora and premiered the opera "La isla de los peces" as librettist and stage director. In 2017 she was librettist and stage director for "Titus", a contemporary chamber opera based on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.


  • Alba Cadena Roldan
  • Claudia Bernardi
  • Coco Guzman
  • Danilo Corrêa
  • Diego Cristian Saldaña Sifuentes
  • Ruby Barrientos
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