By Antonio Gonçalves Filho
The first image which comes to mind when I think of Gerald Thomas is that of a shark drowning in a glass of water – a sketch the playwright-director wound up using as a poster for his Sturmspiel (commissioned by the National Theater Munich in 1989). He used to draw it over and over again during rehearsals for the Kafka Trilogy (1988), which I attended assiduously, the poster for which inadvertently evoked formal elements of the Surrealist school (and, in point of fact, of no particular interest to Gerald). In his Kafka Trilogy poster, a scary-looking cockroach sports a head crafted from a fountain pen nib of the sort used to produce delicate line drawings. Gerald’s is monstrously delicate. It translates the anxiety of the Kafkian character’s metamorphosis – an awkward, fragile being uncomfortably trapped in a body not his own at the behest of a metaphor for legal penalties against those who are different and, thus, committed to penal colonies. The artist’s cockroach-quill was not quite a surrealist manifesto of the absurd, although it did sum up Kafka’s parable with a power hard to match in words. For this is what Gerald does when words fail him: he draws. And he does it well. As well as he lights a stage. Some of the finest lighting design projects in the history of Brazilian theater have been his, including the one for MattoGrosso, Flash and Crash Days and EletraComCreta.