Waiting for Godot – montage by Zé Celso

Anna Boghiguian, An incident in the life of a philosopher, 2017, collage, watercolor and pencil on paper
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By DANIEL GORTE-DALMORO*

Commentary on the staging of Beckett's play by Teatro Oficina

Samuel Beckett, through his theater – and all of his literature – of the absurd, leads to a paroxysm scenes that, deep down, are our most banal everyday life, but which we normalize – even as a way of supporting the meaninglessness of actions in a world ( socially constructed) that repeatedly denies us the possibility of creating meaning for our existence. “We always invent something to get the impression that we exist”, says Estragon, perhaps in a sentence already outdated for the XNUMXst century, first because we don't need to have the impression that we exist, we need to convey that impression; and second, because we are in a time when children are urged to obey even in their leisure moments, entertained and duly silenced by electronic paraphernalia or party entertainers, who deny any empty time through which creativity and autonomy can flourish – because a A person facing emptiness is a person who questions and annoys, a person who invents and can get out of control.

Unless one is emptiness itself: devoid of any relation to time other than boredom, like Estragon, living in an eternal present, in which not even the marks on the body – the leg wound, from Lucky's kick (or Felizardo, as in Oficina’s version), to necrose – they manage to imprint a memory, and whose memories are only the most obvious references to being in the world – a very narrow world, to boot -, like his friendship with Vladimir. Yes, perhaps an advance towards the ideal type of subject we have today: citizens of non-places, who only establish fleeting, shallow – liquid – relationships with everything that surrounds them (places, things and people), and move among advertising signs.

the assembly of Waiting for Godot made by Teatro Oficina, is a happy subtlety in updating the condition of today's subject to the work of 1952, without letting it follow too closely to the text.

There's a dynamism and liveliness to Vladimir and Estragon that I haven't seen in any of the productions I've seen – nor do I notice it in the text. A freshness of novelty and adventure in that more of the same meaningless and dull experience that the two characters experience. Estragon's insistence that they leave comes across more as restlessness and lack of memory rather than boredom - although, yes, that situation is boring enough that he doesn't want to be.

And who else should be bored, tired of waiting – because he is aware of waiting –, Vladimir, is the one who is most excited to fill this void of non-events, as if it were the most commonplace in life and there was no room for any negativity – “good vibes only”, as many people say nowadays, desperate to deny the world and their own condition.

One of the subtleties of the montage, present due to its non-appearance, is the absence of any sexual drive that usually characterizes Oficina's pieces. The more sexual insinuation – in the turnip or carrot that Vladimir hands Estragon to eat – sounds like a fifth-grade joke (or the president and his supporters), the kisses between the two have a touch of demonstration of a desperate and desexualized affection. It's as if Zé Celso were warning us: there is no desire possible under the aegis of fascism, be it the open fascism of Bolsonarism or the veiled fascism of liberalism (Viagra, plastic surgery and Only Fans are there to serve as crutches for our inability to have pleasure in the face of the obligation to always appear ready to enjoy).

Another subtle change is in the scene where Felizardo speaks. Instead of the uninterrupted and devitalized verbiage that I was used to in other montages, Felizardo acts in his speech in a “professional” way, without mannerisms, without faults or excesses in this performance – just a few mechanical twists. This point, I admit, bothered me: it is too normal for the reaction of the two protagonists to want to silence him at any cost – normal in the text (nothing close to the absurdities we hear from Bolsonaristas, Cantanhede, Sardenberg, Pedro Doria, Vera Magalhães, Oyama and other journalists and “opinion makers”), normal in staging (or in the spectacular manner that we assimilate as normality, but it is atrociously artificial). The uninterrupted and devitalized speech, or a declamation full of kitsch, of middle-class mannerism forged in the soap operas of the Globe would seem more appropriate.

The points where Zé Celso took off from the text are at the end of each act. First with the boy who will announce that Godot will not come that day, but the next. Instead of an insecure and frightened child, an old-school apprentice trickster, with properly updated vocabulary, who seems to have just left a terreiro. The friend who accompanied me – and who was unaware of the work – said she was impressed with the dialogue between him and Vladimir at the end of the first act; I just held back my laughter at the shock this character brought me – and I remembered another friend, an elementary school teacher, commenting on her seven-year-old mini-mano students.

The choice of this boy is evident at the end of the second act. When he reappears, and Vladimir follows the dialogue set by Beckett, resigning himself to only coming the next day. The boy breaks the text, at first without being heard by Vladimir. Godot has transmuted into another entity - Godot is dead. He will not come - As he never did and never would. It is no longer necessary to wait. Vladimir and Estragon are free to go and build their ways, their lives, try to be rather than just give the impression.

With this ending, Zé Celso urges us to act, to get out of lethargy, to stop waiting. He repeats this, in his speech, after the end of the play: let's not wait for a Messiah, let's not wait for Lula's election. As an atheist, I have a slightly more pessimistic reading of the ending proposed by the director: we keep waiting. If it's not Godot anymore, we're waiting for someone to announce to us that we don't have to wait any longer. We remain passive, dependent on the party entertainer, the boy fresh out of the terreiro, the theater director, someone with some “authority” who tells us: go! Get out! And we all left the theater. We can even get out of waiting for the arrival of someone who will come to fix everything almost as if by magic, but we will have left the position of those who do not know how to act with autonomy - politically and ethically -, we will manage to build our own path, a path that, because we live in society, is it both individual and shared, collective?

*Daniel Gorte-Dalmoro holds a master's degree in philosophy from PUC-SP.

Originally published on GGN newspaper.

 

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