LOVE AT FIRST STAGE
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
The homeland’s Sunday devastates you, ravages you, tears you to shreds of a Cuban without illusions. Then you take your Canon and rush into a theater. In the Trianón theater, for example, where Carlos Díaz has been dazzlingly undressing his crew of actors for decades.
You never know what kind of insanity or absurdity it will be about this time. Reminds me of Shakespeare, with its Twelfth Night, but it could just as well be a traditional drag of Fernando de Rojas, or one of those pamphlets of Sartrean denunciation. It’s all the same. The Audience Theater does not leave a stone unturned on stage. From a European ambassador to our novelist monsignor: all of the proletariat bourgeoisie leaves insulted from their seats in the middle of the show (so old and they still don’t know how to read!).
It’s not Postmodernism. It’s teasing. Provocation. Cheapening of the high and pedantic codes. Enjoyment. Desire. Crime (about which the Minister of Culture does not dare to make a sound). The audience of The Audience enters to consume what they cannot find anywhere else in the prudish, official Cuba. We go to the Trianón to decriminalize dicks and pussies (in that order), as bodies and as concepts, as skins and as words (with the behind the scenes complicity of a thorny poet dressed as Norge).
Cubanness is corporeality. Of course, we can’t do without metaphors behind masks. Parliaments cross dressed against the modus operandi of the ongoing pedestrian politics. Deconstructions of historical landmarks. Echoes of the Royal Palace or of the Royalvolution. Taboos treated with nerve. Cross the line, damn it. Lean into the new set of the Shanghai thanatos, but with a certain, let’s say cultural, look.
The critics have to swallow this hot potato. Even in the most unimportant little spot, the play is advertised on national television. But the summer Sundays are very shitty, dear friends: a silent, sinister comedy, where Havana asserts its heloquent H, and devastates you, ravages you, tears you to shreds of illusion now without cubanness. And then you take your Canon and you rush into the first row, there, where the spittle of the actors rebound in the middle of your face. There, where the homeland foreskins hang above your wide angle lens. There, where you could leave pregnant from the proscenium or from the row behind. There, where the obscene word is joyful liberty and the body is unlimited property. There, where everything is a trap set among characters who at the first opportunity butcher Shakespeare and start partying (did Umberto Detect echoes of his Ur-Fascism in this vocation of collage?). There, where the lights and music revolve in your forgetfulness and eat you alive out of happiness and sadness (from Strawberries and Chocolate to Nemesia, carbon flower). There, where for ten Cuban pesos, the mild mediocrity of your infra-national life is freely exposed. There, where you, like one of those censors, would also stand up in the middle of the show to run away from yourself. But there, where you fell inconsolably in love with the face of a girl dressed like a boy (who knows if the other way around?) and you could no longer photograph anyone else on stage, or run from the torture, or stay drooling over her, (over him?), or stay quiet, or speak, or think of any other face, or stop thinking.
The insanity. The shock. The Shakespearean death with delicate and obscene gestures of visual venom. Everyone on the verge of taking off their clothes, except for her, except for him. And when they finally do it, she or he turn around suddenly and the beauty is absolute and absolutely frustrating. Violence against the sorrowful heart of the spectator. Crime against theater. Low class fraud. Carlos Díaz to the firing squad (when he comes back from the US), without pardon.
And the theater lights up at the end of the farce, and everyone is so professionally happy and immediately clapping, except for you. The greetings are as cruel as someone else’s happiness. The runway is the road back to the street. At seven in the tedious afternoon of your dull, evil, beginning of the century island, over saturated with institutions and defenseless with love. I’m dying. The Canon is heavy. I can never shoot again. I don’t want to return to this theater. I don’t want to see her, see him, again. I cannot not come back. Or stop seeing her, seeing him.
It is unjust. All art is dreadful and dangerous. An attack against desperation. An assault against solitude. Eat your faces now, scavengers. Unroll her in the emptiness of cyberspace, pixel to pixel for me. Don’t give me anything back. Not even the left overs of your rhetoric of an actress, of an actor. Annihilate what the Canon could not capture, accomplice of my brain destroyed by a September without her, without him.
Translated by: Claudia D.
September 6 2011