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 His (still unpublished) “Statues of Salt” was being prefaced by me.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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