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Anonymous Biography: The Arguments of Juan José Saer

Anonymous Biography: The Arguments of Juan José Saer


Acclaimed director Johanna McKeon (the Globe’s Noura) crafts a one-of-a-kind virtual theatrical event from the short fiction of award-winning Argentinian writer Juan José Saer, one of the greats of international literature. This solo performance presents a collection of characters whose separate perceptions, insights, and feelings come together to illuminate the human experience that connects us all. Originating through the Globe’s What Is Theatre Now? initiative, Anonymous Biography: The Arguments of Juan José Saer brings to life Saer’s captivating prose to create an intimate filmed experience that explores the mystery and beauty of everyday life. It will be performed in both the original Spanish and also English translation.

From the fiction of Juan José Saer, with an English translation by Roanne Kantor, and directed by Johanna McKeon, this world premiere play will star Rey Lucas (Globe’s Water by the Spoonful). This free digital production will be available to stream soon through The Old Globe’s YouTube channel.

Anonymous Biography: The Arguments of Juan José Saer is generously sponsored in part by Bank of America. Virtual programs at The Old Globe are supported in part by The Conrad Prebys Foundation. Financial support is provided by The City of San Diego. The Theodor and Audrey Geisel Fund provides leadership support for The Old Globe’s year-round activities.

Cast and Creatives



Juan José Saer (Writer) was one of the most important Argentine novelists of the last fifty years. Born to Syrian immigrants in Serodino, a small town in the Santa Fe Province, he studied law and philosophy at the National University of the Littoral, where he taught History of Cinematography. Thanks to a scholarship, he moved to Paris in 1968. He had recently retired from his position as a lecturer at the University of Rennes, and had almost finished his final novel, La Grande(2005), which has since been published posthumously, along with a series of critical articles on Latin American and European writers, Trabajos (2006). Saer’s novels frequently thematize the situation of the self-exiled writer through the figures of two twin brothers, one of whom remained in Argentina during the dictatorship, while the other, like Saer himself, moved to Paris; several of his novels trace their separate and intertwining fates, along with those of a host of other characters who alternate between foreground and background from work to work. Like several of his contemporaries (Ricardo Piglia, César Aira, Roberto Bolaño), Saer’s work often builds on particular and highly codified genres, such as detective fiction (The Investigation), colonial encounters (The Witness), travelogues (El rio sin orillas), or canonical modern writers (e.g. Proust, in La mayor, or Joyce, in Sombras sobre vidrio esmerilado). His novel La ocasión won the Nadal Prize in 1987. He developed lung cancer, and died in Paris in 2005, at age 67.

Johanna McKeon (Adaptor) was Associate Director on the Broadway productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, American Idiot, War Paint, Grey Gardens, and King Kong, and she has directed multiple national and international tours. Directing credits include the West Coast premiere of Heather Raffo’s Noura (The Old Globe), Mona Mansour’s Unseen (The Old Globe’s Powers New Voices Festival), the premiere of Anne Washburn’s I Have Loved Strangers (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Clubbed Thumb), Tokio Confidential (Atlantic Theater Company), The Comedy of Errors and Schmoozy Togetherness (Williamstown), Much Ado About Nothing, Cymbeline, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse), A Hatful of Rain (ITS Festival Warsaw), Semi-Permanent (New York International Fringe Festival; Outstanding Solo Show), The Importance of Being Earnest (Bard College), Golden Motors (BRIC), and Functional Drunk, Fiesta Cabana, and The Tanks Break (Ontological-Hysteric Theater). She directs frequently for the Obie Award–winning Noor Theatre, founded to develop and produce theatre artists of Middle Eastern decent. Her independent feature Auld Lang Syne received the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 2016 Indie Street Film Festival. She is a co-founder of the Susan Sontag Prize for Translation and served as a panelist for The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in 2020. Johanna spent a year working as Regie Praktikant in Berlin at the Schaubuehne and Maxim Gorki Theater. She is the recipient of Drama League, Boris Sagal, and Fulbright Fellowships. MFA UT Austin.