(seriously think how you could debate with me the question of incest in the Greek theater and the question of morality in the age of enlightenment)
Art is FREE. Art is based on risk taking. Those who want to feel safe should stay away.
Gerald Thomas is a playwright and theater director, often argued to be a genius. He has an opinion just about everything. Moreover his knowledge about history most probably exceeds the archive of the British Museum. He often gets bored and depressed but never loses sense of humor. He suffers from insomnia. When it comes to his theater and opera work he can be easily compared to Mephistopheles who seduces his audience and sucks them into the nightmare of his stage. I met Gerald Thomas in the restaurant in East village six years ago; he was eating beef stroganoff.
The cover of one of his books “ The Staging of the Self” describes his work the best: the artist walks on a tightrope holding a tray, which carries a gun shooting at his brains. It is NOT a comfortable life he would say. At times weird- swimming against the current.
GT is profoundly curious about life and about people. We became friends, but it wasn’t reciprocal. He said he was my mentor (he gave me lists of books to read, he critiqued my works and loved to correct any missing articles in my emails). If I were to write a chapter about us it would be called: Me and my stomach (doesn’t tolerate stress) – him and his insomnia.
(insomnia. From one of my interviews)
I couldn’t sleep since I was 9. That’s how I started to draw and paint and my father would be up with me while I was drawing. Couldn’t sleep… But imagine a kid listening to stories about holocaust during dinner-oh, yes, such and such was burnt, his hair was used to make a mattress and so on… And you know, I was in NJ on Thursday and the next Monday I was in Rio de Janeiro. How could I sleep? I didn’t even know where I was.
In the course of six years (but it feels much longer than that) I met two of Gerald’s wives. We exchanged hundreds of emails. I admired his works and fearlessness. But it wasn’t always smooth. Let’s keep in mind that GT also has a huge ego, to, which he readily admits. Moments of total understanding, of creativity and love could turn into moments of fights:
(being an artist or a philosopher borders with fascism. Because when we want to modify the other, when we want to change the other- we are fascists. That is what fascism is.)
GT: If you remember anything great you have said to me, anything inspiring, please remind me. I must have left my memory in Honduras.
GT: Have you secretly become a US Marshall? Telling me what rights I have and which I don’t?
-You really broke my heart!
GT: It is fixable. Elmer’s Glue does a good job. Or, super bonder.
Several months ago I was flying through Zurich looking through the plane window at the city where GT was lying in the hospital. A day before…
he was careful enough to put on a winter coat, a scarf, winter boots; he put a cheese knife in a pocket and wandered into the woods of the mountains. He was later found half dead half alive (allegedly with a temperature of 17C). I received an email from the emergency medical doctor from Interlaken: I am writing to you to let you know, but not to alarm you, that Gerald was taken in at around 2 am local time in a critical condition, the result of what appears to be an attempt to take his own life with a dangerous combination of sleeping pills, antidepressants and benzos plus others I’m yet not at liberty to divulge. He is checked in under a pseudonym “Sieve. Thomas”.
I was angry and helpless. How dare you- I sent into virtual space. I was in the plane looking through the window and it all seemed like a Paul Auster story- apart from an absurd event by some chance and paradox we appeared to be 20 minutes from each other and yet I couldn’t leave the plane.
(that night. From my interview)
I was looking in the sky, it was getting brighter and I felt this is the best experience I have ever had in my life. I couldn’t feel my body anyway. I couldn’t feel anything. I just felt so peaceful. I couldn’t move my head because it was all frozen so I kept on looking at the same thing- the trees in perspective. I was looking at those trees and I thought this is the most beautiful thing, the most beautiful feeling…But they found me.
Here I have to pause. I am hoping next time I will write about GT it will be about his new production and a book of autobiography. After all it is a new beginning. And there is space for more hurt feelings and for more happy feelings (because of all this complicated dialectic and dualistic thing between people) and most importantly there is space for works of ART that can move you.