Thursday, August 28, 2008

28 August 2008

A blog I discovered today from an LGBT group in Kyrgyztan:
“A transsexual woman was raped three weeks ago in Bishkek by three men, they burnt her nipples and genitals with cigarettes and burnt her bra, she did not dare to seek help and did not believe that it was possible to address the rape in court. This was a hate crime which could’ve been prevented. We could not register the rape because her legal gender is not female and only females can be raped according to the Kyrgyz law.”

I put it in here because it matters: because it forms part of the context in which I work; and partly explains my disgust at the utterly contemptible show I saw this evening.

Today I finally managed not simply to read acts one and two (so far) of “Everyone” but also to make some progress on act two. And I translated a love letter for a friend. And I had a massage: something so sweetly restful I fell into the softest sleep you could imagine. I cooked myself a delicious aubergine curry. And then this evening I went to the theatre.

A world premiere.. Heiner Goebbels: “I Went To The House But Did Not Enter”.
“A staged concert in three tableaux”
Scene one: a Kafka-esque interior. A huge amount of work has gone into creating a dull interior. A 1950’s vacuum cleaner has been meticulously sourced. Four men in grey overcoats meticulously wrap up the crockery, the flowers, the carpet, the curtain, the pictures, and place them in two large grey cardboard boxes.

They give each other a signal and they start to sing: it turns out they are the Hilliard Ensemble. They sing a dreary setting of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Then, they painstakingly unpack the furniture again. The black flowers have turned white, the white vase has turned black. It’s all done with their bodies and faces blank and glum.

The curtain goes down; the curtain goes up; the scene changes. From dull interior to dull suburban exterior. A two storied house. The four singers each now inhabit a different room. The (equally dreary) text is by Maurice Blanchot: “La folie du jour”.Much of it is spoken. The singers, and who can blame them, have been unable to learn it by heart, and there is a certain amusement to be gained from watching their po-faced attempts to glance surreptitiously at the concealed portions of text.

The speak a senseless text. Sample: “Always the same. Always the same morning light”. They perform an unspeakably tedious series of meaningless actions, all realised with the kind of astronomical production values a theatre here (or just about anywhere) could not dare to dream of.

The last words: “A story. No. No stories. Never again”. And all the shutters come down. The curtain falls.

The merciful ice cream sellers gather. But no: now it’s a piece by Kafka. “Der Ausflug ins Gebirge”.

“I don’t know. I cried without being heard. ..Nobody will help me. A pack of nobodies”.

The third text, predictably, is Beckett’s. “Worstword Ho” (1983).
The period when the wretched man had finally written himself into a corner.
A meticulously realised dreary hotel room for the dreariest words.
An expensively recreated inept slide show. The fascination with outdated technology is somehow characteristic of the whole reactionary outdated exercise.
The lazy notion that its somehow enough to communicate nihilist senselessness.

I kept thinking of Jidariyya: the National theatre of Palestine show which was the last one I saw in this theatre. A company in desperate difficulties, under funded, facing real danger. Often prevented by army checkpoints from assembling in rehearsal.
Yet who created an immeasurably rich and beautiful and life affirming text.

As opposed to this: where millions were placed at the creator’s disposal. Millions he squandered in dreary, life-denying, dreary half baked nihilism. For which he was very comfortably feted and paid.

Which in a way sums up something appalling about the European West. With all the riches of the world at our feet, we can do no better than wallow in self-pity.

When he came out on stage to take his bow, I yelled out at him over the applause: “You are full of shit! Shame on you! You should be ashamed!”.

I’m glad I yelled. Even if no-one heard.

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