Constant target of criticism and, sometimes, also of the public, the writer and playwright Nelson Rodrigues (1912-1980) did not act as a plea: he used his own art to defend himself. It was like that in several of his articles and also in some pieces, notably Widow, But Honest, which opened on September 13, 1957, in the São Jorge Theater, no Rio de Janeiro. It was what Nelson called “an irresponsible hoax in three acts”.
It is with such unconcern for realism and supported by a sharp cast that the director Marco Antônio Braz (specialist in rodriguiana’s work) directs an online version of the play, which will be presented this Sunday, 23, starting at 3 pm – free tickets can be purchased on the Sympla platform (www. sympla.com.br). It will be a reading in honor of the playwright, who died 40 years ago.
The plot is priceless: newspaper director The Sledgehammer, one of the most influential in the country, JB de Albuquerque Guimarães (whose speeches will be spoken by Renato Borghi) fails to convince his only daughter, Ivonete (Lucélia Santos), to stop watching over her dead husband, Dorothy Dalton (Leonardo Silva), and return to a normal life – after all, he is only 15 years old and can remarry.
As the girl proves to be irreducible (she doesn’t even want to sit in honor of the deceased), her father hires ex-prostitute Madame Cri-Cri (Miriam Mehler), the psychoanalyst Dr. Lupicínio (Kiko Marques) and the ENT doctor Sanatório (Caco Coelho), all evident charlatans, to dissuade Ivonete. It is good to remember that Dorothy Dalton was a former fugitive from SAM (an entity that should then take care of the welfare of minor offenders) and was chosen by Ivonete when her father, trying to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy, forced the girl to choose someone the newsroom to get married.
Yes, Dalton, who was a homosexual, worked in The Sledgehammer as … theater critic. “Isn’t the theatrical critic of the new generation written and sputtered?”, Proudly JB, echoing the malicious thinking of Nelson Rodrigues, then under strong mark from the specialized professionals. As none of the “specialists” is able to resuscitate Dalton (who died run over by a Chicabon ice cream cart), the solution found by the businessman is to hire Diabo da Fonseca (Nilton Bicudo) that, during a seance, revives the deceased and, as a prize, marries Ivonete.
“Willing to go to the last consequences, Nelson gave himself up to the most unbridled caricature”, he observed Sábato Magaldi, critical of Estadão who, in the 1980s, organized and classified all the writer’s pieces, a work still considered definitive today. “He deliberately forgot all the rules of dramaturgy, or rather, he insisted on transgressing them and introducing on the stage a wide madness, in which the ephemeral brilliance of the moment would be worth.”
“Nelson wrote this text in revenge on a critic who had spoken ill of Forgive me for betraying me”, Comments Braz. “He built a rotating machine gun with phrases that shoot for all national institutions. For us, the text became a form of comic and artistic outburst that rises up against all that is there, as Nelson would say. Their criticisms are absolutely pertinent and current. ”
“Yes, current”, agrees Renato Borghi. “The country’s metaphor is shown by means of outrageous debauchery, the parody is made in a blatant, clear, explicit way. In this sense, Nelson’s play is sister to The Sailing King”, Completes the actor, referring to the text of Oswald de Andrade, and in whose celebrated montage he participated.
The director has the challenge to remotely command a large group that, despite extensive experience, is still crawling in the online format. “I never interpreted it that way, without an audience”, comments Miriam Mehler, who has a valuable career spanning over 60 years. “But it has to be pleasurable – in my case, I think of Madame Cri-Cri as a fake Polish, with a false accent and obsessed with making money from sex.”
Lucélia Santos follows the same path: “I also believe that it will not be possible to transpose this theatrical language in which you have an actor and audience complicit, close, almost close, with an eye to the eye – this should not happen online, in a digital transposition”, comments the actress.
As he always does, Marco Antônio Braz, who will read the rubrics, intends to be faithful to every comma in the text. “Treat each sentence as if it were a monologue”, he observes. “And have fun and let off steam – I feel that people in this country need this text. The Rodrigues theater is the best vaccine against stupidity, ignorance and hatred around us. ”