Friday, October 4, 2013

Teatro 9: Nasty!

OK "Viejo, sólo y puto" was fascinating. I'm loathe to translate the title because it sounds jaunty in Spanish but kind of nasty and self-pitying in English (Old Lonely Faggot maybe? Terrible.)  This is something the Argentines do really well. It reminded me more of Tolcachir than anything else I've seen here, though of course this is a different writerly voice (it belongs to Sergio Boris). It's a super rough dark comedy set in the back room of a run-down pharmacy in a seedy suburb, where our sadsack young pharmacist comes back late at night to find his older brother, the brother's friend (a guy in the "pharmaceutical industry," wink wink), and a coupla tranny hookers holding court.

A little bit seventies, right?  In a totally good way.
As usual I'd gotten hold of the script in advance, and it was a truly eye-opening experience. I did not understand a word of it. Read it twice, dictionary handy, might as well have been Sanskrit. There were a few reasons for this. As you might expect, it was a LOT of slang, BA trannyhooker street language.  And partly it was about what happens in the play, the characters are kind of drunk, sometimes high, lot of sentence fragments, not always making a lot of sense. But the real reason the script was tough to read was interesting: compared to North American scripts, Argy scripts are mostly written from the other end. By this I mean: North American plays are typically written by a playwright at a desk who will probably do some development but then hand the more or less finished script to a director.  This sometimes happens in BA but the more typically Argy process is one where a playwright/director works up a piece on a cast (we talked about this right?).  This means the script is really just an internal reference for the people who made the thing and therefore know it inside and out.  A North American script is an instruction book the playwright makes for strangers: here is how to do my play. In Argy, there's no expectation that a successful play will ever have a second production, since the first one can run for years.  So the script isn't really instructions.  So it's hard to read.

I'm starting to be able to tell one kind of script from the other, and when it's this hard-to-read kind, the piece is likely to be really special in this typically Argy way: VERY alive, very (for lack of a better word) organic, more about action, behavior, non-verbal sounds, gestures, the body-- a really messy, truthy kind of feeling-- rather than our "well-wrought script" feeling that at its extreme feels like, if the people just say the lines in the right order, the story will get told fine. (I've heard Artistic Dirctors say basically this exact thing about a play like, say, Proof.)  There's nothing wrong with that-- in some ways it comes straight down from Shakespeare and a tradition of theatre as a poetic text to be declaimed.  But this rough organic funny raw Argy thing is something else, and quite special.

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