Monthly Archives: June 2010

Breve Interrupção: A breve e temporaria morte de Alberto Guzik: Folha.

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A Brief Interruption : Guzik dead in English


London- What is it one can say when a ‘communicator’ dies? When a theater person passes on we can always say that the ‘final curtain has closed’. When a novelist dies, one can always say that he has ‘turned the page’, and so on.

The fact is that – when dealing with the death of a ‘communicator’ (someone who amasses all of the deeds of  ‘a media man’), who happens to have taken this title to its extreme, well, then this death also turns into an enormous enigma.

And as a great ‘communicator’, Alberto Guzik decided to die right in between the anniversaries of Michael Jackson and Pina Baush’s deaths. Of course, he wouldn’t have chosen a lesser date, a less important date.

I seem to have become the ‘obituary guy’, for this cosmopolitan Brazilian daily, Folha de Sao Paulo. When it isn’t a piece about me, I’m usually writing about the death of an icon or a friend.

This time, however, I seem lost. Somewhat lost. I mean, the impact left by the death of such close friend leaves me dumbfounded or mute, even.

Yes, Guzik was as intense as they come. He’d been following my work ever since I exchanged New York for Sao Paulo in the mid eighties to form my Dry Opera Company.

In return, I followed him and his work. My book is prefaced by him and I was just about to finish the intro to his latest novel and all of this leads to an enormous maze which might be better understood under yet another title: “ Two Nowhere Men tormented by the pain of the world”.

The preface to my “Staging of the Self” was written by Guzik as a wrath of passion. Long. Long and laborious and incredibly intimate. His (still unpublished) “Statues of Salt” was being prefaced by me.

And so it was. Wow! To say it “was” or ‘he was’ brings a…(never mind). Never mind.

But there are more than just strange coincidences. The scene which opened the theater marathon (in a tent), “Dramamix”, in 2007, with my text and under my armpit was called “A Brief Interruption”. As I enter my flat in London (having left New York the previous night with the news of his death), on an extremely boiling hot Sunday fucking Sunday, what do I find?

A big yellow box, covered in Brazilian postal stamps, sitting on my desktop, as if arranged to be inspected, searched, looked into. Of course I open it immediately only to find dozens of copies of a book which sums up that festival and begins with my text – written for two theater critics (Guzik and Sergio Coelho), bound and handcuffed and (almost hooded). “A Brief Interruption” appears of page 33. I do mention the Mount of Olives and….well, and nothing! Better stop. I hate, loathe, palm readers, crystal balls and clairevoyance.

This is how it starts. Guzik is on his knees and begins the dialogue (trialogue) of the imprisoned:

“Now we are alone. You and I and this cup filled with shit (coup-au-turd). It’s not that I don’t want to know about the document that (he cries and lowers his voice). It’s not that I don’t want to know what awaits me in the forthcoming lines but being here, atop the Mount of Olives, you and I and this cup….I’m burning in fever. I’m dehydrating. All I can think of is this strange Sachertorte or the Viennese coffee filled to the rim with whipped cream. Oh God! Oops!”

Yes, we did have a lot of fun rehearsing this short piece, since handcuffing two critics and making them laugh isn’t quite as funny as imagining it.

Two critics under arrest. And I made them say things they would never have said. I made them cry tears they would never have shed.

Oh, yes. At a given moment, Coelho (the other critic) turns to his fellow inmate and asks:

“Do you really not understand this tactic? I mean, the role reversal? How many people have you killed during your critical years? Yes, I said killed, changed their course, left unemployed, threw right  into the gutter?”

As a critic, Alberto Guzik was what we call a ‘moderate’. As an actor he was simply passionate. As a man of cultural affairs he was a scholar in love. As a teacher  and novelist he summed up all of the above virtues.

And now? “May your soul go in peace, Guzik?”. No. No way. No peace. Guzik was indeed a pacifist but he was a tormented soul and a man of the eternal conflict. Yes, the eternal conflicts and knew, better than anyone, how to deal with them. His other two books are good examples of how a story or storyline could trail the most arduous ways possible, since the author throws his characters into a Dantean / Jewish Nelson Rodrigues kind of world or underworld or underpass.

The underwriter.

And so? After decades of trashing and praising others, Guzik sent everyone to hell. “Fuck you all !”. Gave it all up only to return to the stage as an old(er), wiser actor. And as such, he co-founded Satyros (a theater group based and housed in the red light district of Sao Paulo, a brick in the wall, a fantastic hellhole which has gained more and more notoriety over the years.

Yes, he always knew how to steep a step deeper and he won’t fail us this time around.

His temporary death is nothing but an interruption and ceases to be a metaphor in order to become some bizarre concrete reality. I mean, this temporary reality made the clock stop, made the pointing fingers come to a sudden halt.

Guzik is dead. And, for a while (albeit as short or long…you decide), time is a frozen matter and will stay frozen for some time.

Farewell my love.

Gerald Thomas

27 June 2010 (NY and London)

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Alberto Guzik dead (PS at the end): cannot believe that he’s gone. London Actors: BE PREPARED this coming week….

Oh yes. The use of metalanguage!

Drama is about to be changed

For the auditions. Make sure you’ve seen plenty of my work on

and on

What are we going to do? Read. Discuss. Argue. Dramatize. Redefine. Fine!

From Schoenberg to Beckett and backwards.

It’ll be fun. I promise.

PS; ALBERTO GUZIK MY DEAREST DEAREST FRIEND. REST IN PEACE. I wish I had something more interesting to say. I don’t. Your sudden departure leaves me dumbfounded.


Small text in Portuguese:

Juro que nao sei o que dizer. Falei com o Ivam agora, por telefone. Fui avisado pela Fabi e pelo Caetano.

Que o Alberto fique em paz (nao acredito muito nesses cliches!). Nao ha paz. Ha o eterno conflito.

O Alberto era o homem dos conflitos.

Sabia lidar com eles: seus livros, “Risco de Vida” e “O Que é SER RIO, e CORRER”, são  exemplos de que ele se aventurava pelas vias mais duras, mais arduas. Sua vida como critico  teatral (sucessor de Sabato Magaldi no Jornal da Tarde) era uma aventura que o jogava a favor e contra a “classe”: e mandou tudo pra PQP uma vez que se tornou ator e co-fundou o Satyros na Pça Roosevelt.

Seu novo livro (ainda nao publicado), “Estatuas de Sal” (cuja introdução ou prefacio  eu estava escrevendo) é um romance brilhante que nos AFUNDA em separações, mortes, etc.

O Alberto sempre soube onde pisar.

Na primeira versão de Satyrianas (2007) numa tenda, literalmente “amarrei” dois criticos. Guzik e Sergio Coelho (ex Folha) e nos divertimos com meu texto “A BREVE INTERRUPCAO”.

Premunição? Nada. Breve Interrupcao mesmo. Alberto sempre soube onde andar/trilhar.

Nao ira falhar dessa vez, apos a sua (temporaria) morte.



NYCity 26 June 2010

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Time Out – 500 ways to experience Brazil around the world

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Visionary? Unfortunately + John Waters and the Gulf of Mexico, beyond belief !!!!

corpses amidst a johnny Mathis, my painting.

GT over the huge fish spitting OIL banner

I painted those OIL spitting (vomiting) dolphins in London in 2003.

Unfortunately, what we’re witnessing now has gone far beyond that. It’s catastrophic. Catastrophic and beyond proportions.  But should we ALWAYS be amazed? Are these (so called) disasters not foreseeable? Really? Will we be taken by surprise when the NYSE and so on crash again? Or a new war begins somewhere? Are we doomed to being stupid?

What I have found in all of this (around me) is an extraordinary story: hundreds of millions of dollars stolen, papers of extraordinary value, documents never before seen wrapping oil spitting Tuna and fingers pointed at top government officials. Torture, slaughter, abuse, death – and that’s just the beginning of what sounds like a best-selling thriller. But, tragically, it is actually real life.

Time for us to wake up, one day. Some day. Sunday. Sunday might be a good day to wake up.

By the way: Those fortunate enough to have watched John Waters (filmmaker) on the Craig Ferguson Show must have been DELIGHTED to have witnessed a SANE and wonderful chat.

Other than that: OIL is still gushing and the news is pretty fucking bad.

Unfortunate reality in the Gulf of Mexico (painted in London 2003)

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Folha de S Paulo: Kazuo Ohno dead (Portuguese and English) Theater is not only larger than life…

Kazuo Ohno, the master of death: dead.

It’s an exaggeration of life (and death).

São Paulo, domingo, 06 de junho de 2010

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Ao mexer com nossa alma, Kazuo Ohno sacaneou a morte

Artista japonês fazia mistura singular de arte oriunda da dor do pós-guerra somada a um tipo decandomblé


Se você me perguntar qual foi a minha experiência mais mística no teatro em todas essas décadas, afirmo sem hesitar: Kazuo Ohno, que morreu na última semana.
Foi aqui em Nova York, no La MaMa, que o recebemos pela primeira vez. Deve ter sido no final dos anos 70 ou dos 80. Alguns anos depois, eu o vi de novo, num beco de Ropongui, em Tóquio, fazendo o ritual da morte, o seu próprio butô (diferente do de Min Tanaka ou do de Sankai Juko).
Kazuo incorporava algo: Qual algo? Ah… Quem explica a arte? Quem explica a arte que faz você engolir a sua própria essência e sentir uma dor no peito por dias e dias? Já com 70 e poucos anos, um mulher/homem (em “La Argentina” -versão Dietrich que ele viu certa vez na Alemanha), Ohno provocou tumultos aqui na rua 4, os ingressos esgotaram.
O butô de Ohno era a dança que transcendia a morte, como em “Tristão e Isolda” de Wagner. Kazuo era o “Liebestod” [ária final da ópera, onde o amor transcende a morte e vice-versa]. Meio vivo-morto em cena, tínhamos a impressão de que vinha carregado de “entidades”.
E vinha mesmo. Quando eu o vi mais uma vez, no Sesc Anchieta, fui carregado pra fora do teatro, desmaiado.
Sim, desmaiei, porque lá, em cima de sua cabeça e ao redor do seu corpo contorcido em dor e molecagem, eu vi os corpos dos “meus” mortos: Julian Beck, meu pai, Artaud e tantos outros.
Cada um via várias entidades nesse japonês que fazia uma mistura singular entre uma arte oriunda da dor do pós-guerra e do teatro Nô somado a uma espécie de candomblé. Ohno era a versão japonesa do caboclo véio.
Nossa! Não posso dizer que era de arrepiar. Era mais que isso.
E ainda agora, no voo que me trouxe de Londres pra Nova York, eu vinha escrevendo sobre as entidades que compunham a edificação da arte do nosso tempo.
Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Bob Wilson, Philip Glass e Kazuo Ohno.
Ohno morreu 11 meses depois de Pina. Começo a acreditar que é extraordinário como os deuses do teatro conduzem a mão e contramão do que deixara um legado. Um tremendo legado. Como Beckett em “Ato sem Palavras 1 e 2”, Kazuo era o “Ato sem Palavras número 3”.
Suas mãos ainda cavam fundo na alma algo que nunca acharei. E por quê? Porque o butô celebra a morte. Celebra o único contrato que temos em vida: a morte. E Kazuo Ohno foi uma mistura de Rembrandt e Andy Warhol a sacaneá-la mexendo com a nossa alma e a alma da própria história do teatro para sempre.
Adeus, querido. Sayonara.

GERALD THOMAS é diretor e autor teatral.

In English:

Kazuo Ohno dead.

IF you were to ask me what was the most mystical experience in the theater in all these past decades, I can say without shivering or even taking half a breath: Kazuo Ohno.

It was here in New York, at La MaMa, that we hosted him for the first time. When was that? Must have been at the end of the seventies, early eighties. A couple of years later I saw him perform again, at the very end of a twisty alleyway in Ropongui, Tokyo. Ohno made out of his art, the ritual of death. Yes, his Butoh was different from that of Min Tanaka’s and Sankai Juku’s.

Ohno incorporated something or, rather, ‘someone else’. What that was exactly, is difficult to tell. There’s the rub: Who will ever be able to really explain art? Who will ever be able to explain that which makes you (willingly or not), swallow the essence of what you are and feel it with all its pain beating as a heart at the core of your chest?

In his late ‘progressive age”: 70 or older, this female of a male performer who got his inspiration from something I recall was titled La Argentina ( a Dietrich version of a piece he had seen in post war Germany), Ohno  caused an uproar here on East 4th Street. Within minutes, the Box Office had sold out.

Ohno’s Butoh is the dance which transcends death, just as in Tristan Und Isolde, it is love which transcends death. Kazuo Ohno was Liebestod himself, i.e. an incarnation of the Celtic Idea that ephemeral matters, matter but only on another level. Which level I dare not…

Liebestod is the last aria sung by Isolde, with her Tristan dead on her lap. Half dead, half alive on his stage, my impression is that his solo act was accompanied by a heavy load of ‘entities’.

Seriously. That’s how it was.

I saw him once again at SESC Anchieta, in São Paulo and I was literally carried out of the theater (for, I had fainted). Yes, I must have fainted after having cried a river and because I saw, hovering over his head and all around his contorted body, a mixture of pain and an attitude of a trickster of a boy: I saw the bodies and souls of MY dead loved ones such as Julian Beck, my own father and the likes of Artaud, as well as so many others….

Each one saw his or hers entities through the ritualistic art put on stage by this Japanese master who blended Noh and an the modern art derived from a painful end of a Second World War. Yet, there was something ‘candolmble’ (the Afro-Brazilian religion and ritual), about him. My God! I cannot describe the degree of  how shockingly beautiful and strangely spooky this was. It was, in fact,  far more than that. Ohno was the Japanese version of the old Black voodoo creature. And to think that, still now, on this flight which brought me from London to NY, I was jotting down some thoughts about those entities who have edified the art of our time:

Pina Bausch , Merce Cunningham, Bob Wilson, Philip Glass and Ohno. Strange thoughts went through my mind.

Ohno died exactly 11 months after Pina Bausch.

I am beginning to seriously believe how extraordinary it is how the Gods of the theater drive against the one way system and the currents of those who leave a legacy behind. And a tremendous legacy it is/was.

Just as in Beckett’s  “Act without words, 1 and 2”. Kazuo was definitely Beckett’s unwritten “act number 3”.

His contorted hands still dig deep into my soul something I am sure I’ll never find. And why won’t I? Because Butoh celebrates the only contract we have with life: death. And Ohno, as a mixture of Rembrandt and Warhol teased the crap out of death, yet moved us to tears with his

strange and estranged soul and the soul of theater itself for ever.

Goodbye my loved one.

Who will evoke you?


Gerald Thomas

June 2010

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Kazuo Ohno dead + Tighter security at airports? All lies. All TRUE damn lies!

They told us – again and again – that, after the so called Xmas bomber, new scanning machines would be bought and put in place at Heathrow, Gatwick, JFK and so on. NOT TRUE! All a bunch of hype without foundation whatsoever.

Same old machines. Shoes don’t have to come off at Heathrow. Machine has been there since my grandmother was born. Or even before that.

I never believed in the Christmas Bomber anyway. Strange thing about the Times Square (to be) van suicide bomber. Terrorism comes cheap these days. Cheaper than to install those full body scans they so much talked about.

Careful and suspicious regarding the media. All media. All.

Gerald Thomas

About Kazuo Ono’s death: 103 years old. Imagine what he saw. Imagine what he didn’t see (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc)

O Butoh de Ohno era a  dança que transcendia a morte, assim como em Tristão e Isolda de  Wagner, o amor transcende a morte. Kazuo era o próprio “Liebestod”. Meio vivo-morto  em cena, tínhamos a impressão de que ele vinha carregado de “entidades”.

Meaning:  the Butoh adopted by Ohno transcended death, just as in Wagner’s Tristan Und Isolde, love transcends death.. Kazuo Ohno was Liebestod himself. Half alive, half dead, half man and half woman, by watching him on stage one was taken over by “entities” (more in Folha de Sao Paulo this Friday)

To view some of Ohno’s work please go to:

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