Eubioticamente atraídos

the candle king: oficina manifesto

the candle king: oficina manifesto

Tropicalist verb

José Celso e Martinez  Corrêa
Published in the column Roda Viva, in Última Hora, February 5, 1968.

We are too underdeveloped to recognize the genius of Oswald’s work. Our facile patriotism fits better with risk-free celebrations of the obvious than with the discovery of something that shows our reality as it is. It’s true that Oswald’s play has not been taken seriously until now. But today, as international culture looks at the meaning of art as language – as a reading of reality through the expressions of super structures to which society spontaneously gives rise, without the mediation of intellectuals (as in cartoons, for example) – the nation’s artists can rediscover Oswald even in an underdeveloped fashion. His play is surprisingly in tune with the most modern aesthetic of theater and visual art. His is a super-theatricality – the overcoming of Brechtian rationality by way of a theater that synthesizes all arts and non-arts, circus, sideshow, revues, etc.

The staging will follow my own reading of Oswald’s text and I will make use of everything that Oswald used, especially his creative freedom. A staging based on the author’s intentions makes no sense when it comes to Oswald. In this case, fidelity to the author means trying to reclaim a climate of violent creation in a savage state and doing so in terms ofhow actors, scenes, costumes, music, etc., are developed. He wanted to say a lot of things, but since he immersed himself in attempting to achieve an affective and conceptual synthesis ofhis time, he ended up saying much more than he set out to say.

The play is of fundamental importance to the timid, simple Brazilian theater of today, so far removed from the aesthetic audacity of cinema novo. I could fall into that same simplicity, as this is the present climate of Brazilian theater, which lacks the courage to say, and even the possibility of saying, what is wanted and how it is wanted.

Perhaps I suffer from the same ills of the theater of my time, but in directing Oswald’s play I, together with the cast, have been infected by the contagion of freedom. OswaId broke the barriers of theatrical production and showed us the possibilities of theater as a form, that is, as art, as an audiovisual expression. And especially as bad taste. It’s the only way to express Brazilian surrealism. Nelson Rodrigues aside, Chacrinha may be Oswald’s only follower, even if he doesn’t know it.

The first act is staged in Sao Paulo, the symbol of the great underdeveloped city, heart of local capitalism where the masses, both established and marginalized, seek to join the European civilized world. A Sao Paulo of blue-blood pedigree that only the eye of Primo Carbonari can capture without mystification. The first act is set in a money-lending office that functions as a metaphor for an entire country mortgaged to imperialism. The Brazilian bourgeoisie is caricatured: in this money-lending office love, interest on loans, intellectual creation, palm trees, waterfalls, investments, socialism, all are mortgaged to a great boss who is absent until the end of the act when he makes his glorious entrance. It’s a Kafkaesque world in which house rules prevail. The entire act has a multidimensional futuristic quality that captures the movement and confusion of a big city. The style varies from Brechtian demonstration (the client scene) to circus (John Cage) to lectures, variety shows, theater within theater.

The second act features the Sexual Unified Front in Guanabara. The utopia of Brazilian carousing, Guanabara is depicted with a green-and yellow painted backdrop that says made in the states. This act is about how the Brazilian bourgeoisie experiences its leisure time. This is leisure used for scheming: the decadent, rural Sao Paulo bourgeoisie, the tragic hicks, characters out of a play by Jorge de Andrade or Tennessee Williams, scheme together with the new class, with the candle kings, all under the auspices of the American. The only way to interpret this false act, this pop, unreal  way of living is through the satirical theater typical of the Prana Tiradentes in downtown Kio. Sao Paulo is the capital of the progressive bourgeoisie operating in the tragicomedy of the Sao Paulo businessman, represented by tie-wearing figures and by architecture that seems to have been made for a G.lm, as Levi-Strauss noted about the city. Rio, on the other hand, is a Farcical revue about how the bourgeoisie lives, a representation of a False joy, of a vitality that at the time nourished in the neighborhood oFUrca and now has taken root in Ipanema.

The third act is the tragicomedy the Brazilian bourgeoisie, of the tragedies of all Latin American republics with their tragicomic kings who are victims of their own little machinations. One falls, another takes his place. Hidden forces, suicides, resignations, a succession of characters that don’t change the rules of the game. In Shakespearean style, Oswald interprets this process through the analyses of Jan Kott,  but this mechanism is not based on feudal history, but rather on imperialist machinations – a mechanism that is more grotesque because it may be overcome and destroyed. Opera is the best form to depict this world, And the music oFthe Brazilian Verdi, Carlos Gomes, 0 escravo, and our poor operatic theater with cheap gled curtains, kame this act.

It seems thar all of this lacks unity. But: everything in Oswald’s play is linked to the various portrayals, which dramatize and mystify a world where history is no more than the prolongation of the history of great powers. Here, no real action or change is possible, only a dream world in which make-believe alone has a chance.

The formal unification of everything in the performance takes place through various metaphors in the text, through props, scenery, and songs. Everything seeks to transmit this reality of “much ado  about nothing” in which all attempted paths toward transcendence turn out to be dead ends.

Everything seeks to show the immense cadaver that is the non-history of Brazil in recent years for which we all light our candles in order to muster courage for our daily lives. I933 – I967: 34 years. Two generations at least lit candles for it. And the body continues to rot.

I have the impression that my generation will catch the ball that Oswald threw with his cruel and anti-festive consciousness of national reality and the difficult path toward revolutionizing it. This generation is still not totally resigned to lighting its candles. These are facts that we seek to make legible in our performance.  And I will go back to work. And I will go back to work, to the writing of the performance manifesto of “Oficina.” I hope to pass on this ball with the same strength with which I received it. Total force. Enough of words: I’m going back to rehearsal.

+Eubioticamente atraídos
Tropicalist verb