Monthly Archives: March 2011

O Globo 12/03/2011

…”Com exceção da roda, estes dias em Londres têm sido bem alternativos. A começar pela bagagem que ficou empacada na escala em Madri. Para conseguir reavê-la foi um teatro de absurdos do qual foi testemunha até o Gerald Thomas, que está com a peça “Throats” em cartaz no Pleasance Theatre, no udigrudi fringe londrino. “Throats” está enlouquecendo os críticos da “Time Out” a ponto de a resenha ser uma colagem de impressões.
Eu adorei. Não é nenhuma “Trilogia Kafka”, nenhum “Ventriloquist”. Mas é um trabalho em progresso com um novo elenco que simplesmente arrebenta. Quando vier ao Brasil (nos próximos meses), esta Dry Opera Company reformulada vai causar alvoroço com o texto em inglês e as legendas, espero que em português.
Gerald está pilhado ao extremo, muda a peça todas as noites, mas o resultado é o estouro de sempre, visceral, destemido, desafiador, político. A trilha de John Paul Jo- n e s ( e x – L e d Z e p e l i n ) s o m a d a a o m e d l e y incidental de Gerald é um show à parte.”
…”Estou me coçando até a alma, pra não dizer outra coisa, no contato com as páginas bichadas deste misterioso volume. Se eu der à luz um polvinho peludo verde em Londres talvez tenha uma chance no elenco da próxima peça de Gerald Thomas, que batizo, desde já à revelia, “O Fantasma da Dry Opera”. Agora chega.”

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“WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?” From the Roaming With Intent blog

‘I just didn’t get any of that’, ‘But what did it all mean’, ‘What was that all about’ mutters the audience as they stumble out of the smoke. In an absurd play where logic and rationality have broken down there will always be a sense of profound disengagement. It is all too easy for the critic to cry ‘I didn’t understand it, it was brash and incoherent’.

But why do we need meaning? Why is it so hard just to let the action play out without having a clear beginning or end?

To attempt to make any sense of a play like Throats you have to leave any expectation of plot, narrative, structure or rational meaning at the door and then see what jumps out at you. Each of our seven characters lacks a coherent linear background, so we don’t have the opportunity to prejudge their dialogue or actions. Yet through the course of the play they do each inhabit their own skin and create a sense of an individual in this chaotic blood soaked world.

Beyond the characters there are some themes, lots of blood, lots of drinking, a car crash, an explosion, an encounter with a blind boy and it seems that Benidorm holds some significance.

I however found it hard to grasp much more than threads. There seemed to be a commentary on terrorism and 9/11 but it is all a bit vague. A constant nagging at the back of my mind made me feel that perhaps I was missing quite a lot, maybe had I seen more absurdist plays or been a drama student or not been so ignorant I may have understood more. Or perhaps in truth it was all too disjointed to leave the viewer with anything other than the feeling of an evening separated from reality.
I am quite happy to never know.

Throats is at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington 18th February to 27th March 2011

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Email from a viewer re: Throats

Dear Gerald Thomas,
Just a quick thank you for your masterful production of “Throats” which I saw last night at the Pleasance in London. It is a truly memorable piece. I will follow you like I followed Robert Wilson after seeing “Le Regard du Sourd”, or plays by Fernando Arrabal, or Thomas Bernhardt… You’re a theatrical genius… Magical!
I’ve seen some truly disappointing theatre in London recently, most particularly a shockingly mediocre opera/ballet called “Shoes” which was hailed by Time Out as its “Pick of the Week”. As a consequence, when I read their idiotic diatribe against you I immediately booked to see your production. The moral of this story is that a condemnation by a rotten critic can be as rewarding as praise from the great. So let’s give a toast to Matt Trueman!
Robert Silman

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Kilburn Times

HAVING witnessed first hand the events of 911 it is clear the ongoing impact of that day is still playing heavy on Gerald Thomas’ mind.

The American playwright, who spent 21 days helping clear-up the mess, sets his new play, Throats, amid a backdrop of the aftermath of that fateful day.

In it he takes you from a metaphorical car crash into an apocalyptic world based on the paranoia that followed the towers’ collapse and his wild imagination.

The play opens with seven eccentric characters sitting down for what appears to be a last supper in what feels like some sort of purgatory.

Constant references to religion, war, terrorism and suspicion are left to the audience to make sense of while sudden bursts of dark and surreal humour is lapped up by some and flies over the head of others.

Explaining his fixation with paranoia and suspicion, Thomas said: “America is not used to being attacked and in a war zone. Consequently we are always being told to look out for something suspicious.

“But we suspect George Bush allowed 911 to happen to justify going to war with Iraq. This issue will not go away.”

The play is challenging and not for those looking for a beginning, middle and end, and it strangely makes sense when Thomas reveals he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After, enthusiasts could be heard discussing its meanings and subtexts in the pub next door for hours while praising the startling and impressive sets and performances.

Thomas said of the play: “It’s about the future, it’s about my demons and it’s about me expressing myself. I don’t want people to go for a meal afterwards and forget about it.”

One of those demons appears to be his relationship with London and the UK explaining why it’s taken him 33 years to produce a play in what he calls home.

Thomas spent his formative years reading philosophy at the British Library while his parents come from Wales.

“London freaks me out and it still does but It never ceases to be on my mind, but now I’m incredibly happy to return home now.”

*Throats is on at the Pleasance Theatre, in North Road, Islington, Tuesday to Sunday until March 27.

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Most critics hate it. Living on a tightrope….

When Village Voice critics – such as Michael Feingold and Erica Munk – used to trash Robert Wilson’s pieces in the 1980’s, they would get a letter from the director saying “I hope you’ll die”. Wilson is alive and well and continues to work. As for the Voice, well it’s on the brink of death.

I heard this “hope you’ll die” story from both sides. Wilson used to saying it laughingly. Yet, the critics were outraged. It’s a funny notion when you see that a critic can feel “hurt” after hurting so many people. But they do. Critics are the most vulnerable of beings because their lifespan is short, none of them are ever remembered in the future and – the majority of them end up specializing in writing biographies on this and that author or director. So, historically, they throw one’s private life against one’s work. Is it fair? It’s vile, venomous, but (I guess) fair. In the case of Time Out, the reviewer takes his time and uses up his lines to quote me, myself, and my manifesto, written 1 and a half years ago. Fine. Really? Let’s think.
This time the critic didn’t review the play. He reviewed me. He researched my manifesto. He quotes my past and whom I have worked with. And this hardly matters to an audience member. What matters is what he saw.
And what he saw was a group of fantastic actors performing a piece. He is such a lazy thinker that he asked our own PR people to feed him with the line with which he ends his review. Lazy writer, blind as the blind boy in Throats itself.

No actors are mentioned. He goes and vilifies me. So, it’s personal. A review should focus on THE PLAY and not on what the playwright declared a year ago or whom he or she have collaborated with. Where is this guy from? What has he proven to the world? He compares me to a playwright or director of whom I have NEVER EVER heard. But the critic feels as if he’s the ultimate truth teller. He’s just a teller. As in a bank, he hands out cash but does not OWN the money or the intellectual property. In the end, it’s all quite ridiculous. The guy is called True Man. Another reviewer is calle Love It (Lovett). In NY, the guy who reviewed Anchorpectoris in 2004 was called Travisd (pronouced Travesty). Walter Kerr said goodbye to the NYTimes when he realized (after trashing the American opening of Waiting for Godot, by Beckett), that he had made a HUGE mistake. He apologized 25 years too late and acknowledged having ruined thousands of talents.

The Time Out and an Italian review below.
Have fun. This is part of living on a tightrope where the incredible lightness of being can feel as heavy as a hard hard brick, between a rock and….a sponge, really. Not a hard place!!!! A sponge! I wish you a long and healthy life mr. critic (opposite what Bob Wilson would have said).
Gerald Thomas

Time Out first said:

Internationally acclaimed experimental theatre director Gerald Thomas brings his ‘dry opera’ concept – an original play performed with the heightened theatricality of opera – to the UK for the first time.

Then it said:

A sometime collaborator with Beckett, Heiner Müller and Phillip Glass, Gerald Thomas gave up on theatre in 2009. ‘I do not believe,’ he wrote at the time, ‘that our times reflect theatre as a whole (or vice versa).’ On the evidence of this vitriolic return, which does little more than outline his gripes, it’s tempting to suggest that theatre gave up on Gerald Thomas.

Tiresome and time-warped, bold but boorish, ‘Throats’ feels like sub-par Howard Barker. It shows a host of symbolic figures, among them a black orthodox Jew, a Shoreditch dandy and a severed head, banqueting beneath the rusted carcass of the Twin Towers. On Jan-Eric Skevik’s scab-like set (a rare positive), it’s The Last Supper painted by Banksy.

Before long, playful surrealism is suffocated by generic, scattergun rage. Legitimate targets – celebrity, vanity, egotism, ideological vacuity – are splurged together to form an ineffectual litany of grievances.

When it comes to railing, however, a little specificity goes a long way. Thomas is so intent on rebuking ‘the emerging generation’, that he shouts himself hoarse, spouting nonsense like, ‘Respectability and absurdity are first cousins secretly fucking each other. While status films it. Wanking. Over the tits of culture.’ Quite.

Roberta Leotti, 28 febbraio 2011, 10:31
Teatro Le Gole di Gerald Thomas al Pleasance Theatre fino al 27 marzo. Presentato in anteprima lo scorso 18 febbraio dalla Londo Dry Opera Co. l’ultimo progetto surrealista di questo sempre molto dicusso autore contemporaneo

Per farsi un’idea sul teatro di Gerald Thomas occorre una citare una delle sue collaborazioni eccellenti: Samuel Beckett.

Non sorprendera’ quindi ritrovare una scenografia e testi illogici, espressione lampante del teatro dell’assurdo.

Per l’occasione al centro dello stage fa bella mostra una sorta di banchetto, dove non ci si capacita se i sei commensali siano effettivamente morti o siano anime in purgatorio, in attesa di un giudizio finale.

Questi personaggi vengono serviti da una sorta di maggiordomo (Angus Browm), vero protagonista della pièce, che di fatto si trova a gestire le fila dell’intricato tessuto di esperienze dei convenuti.

La corporatura e le movenze ricordano simpaticamente lo zio Fester della Famiglia Addams, sebbene la versione teatrale sia piu’ macabra, con questi che si cosparge frequentemente il capo di sangue.

A sfondo, una scenografia che tanto ricorda lo scheletro di un edificio dopo un’esplosione (convincenti arrangiamenti scenici di Natasha Pater).

I testi dei dialoghi fanno eco al vissuto di ognuno di loro, e saltano da un personaggio all’altro, di palo in frasca, ma sottilmente legati da una parvenza di realta’ e simbolismo religioso.

Dal banchetto che puo’ ricordare l’ultima cena di Cristo, un’altra scena rimanda alla crocefissione con uno dei commensali (un divertentissimo Kevin Golding) appoggiato ad una struttura metallica dalla stessa forma.

Ai suoi piedi l’attrice Lucy Laing, come una Madonna, gli sistema tutto intorno mazzetti di fiori di plastica. In questo frame, l’onnipresente maggiordomo versa copiosamente vino a destra e a manca, in maniera quasi spasmodica.

In una sorta di logico delirio, finira’ per versarlo tutto intorno, ovunque e direttamente in bocca ad un’attrice, che schifata, urlera’ perche’ trattasi in realtà di sangue.

Mantenendo una formale illogicita’, la performance si conclude con un avvicinamento piu’ tangibile alla realta’ fatto di riferimenti dettagliati ad eventi recenti, tra qui l’attacco delle Torri Gemelle (“9/11”) o con sprezzanti battute di satira politica (tra cui Tony Blair), forse a simboleggiare il desiderio comune tanto dell’uomo, quanto di quelle “presenze”, di ricordare e di voler essere ricordate.

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