quarta-feira, dezembro 24, 2008

Stage play "Isto não aconteceu"/"This did not happen" by Álvaro Cordeiro

Paulo Vaz has staged another Play, this one in comical vein.

Álvaro Cordeiro is much more interesting when he uses the screwball mode. When he goes for more philosophical/introspective plays the audience stumble upon some difficulties. His plays with the burlesque mode turned on are easier to stage. When the introspective mode is on the hurdles that Paulo Vaz has to overcome amount to a lot. Sometimes those hurdles are almost insurmountable and the play doesn’t really succeed on all levels.

This play, staged by Paulo Vaz and Vicente Morais (plays Pedro in the TV-Series for children “A Ilha das Cores”), is one of the most successful by Álvaro Cordeiro that I had the grace of watching. Downright funny. It works as a sort of pastiche to the American movies and plays of the thirties. All in all it’s a combination of three vectors: Capra, Howard Hawks/John Huston and Michael Curtiz. The comical vein comes from the Capra mold (“It Happened One Night”), the “thrillerness” from Howard Hawks/John Huston pot (“The Big Sleep”/“The Maltese Falcon”) and the “adventureness” comes from Michael Curtiz. This play brought me back a few years to the times at the Cinemateca Portuguesa. I went and watched it a second time, so that I could pin-point the fine points that I’d missed previously. While watching the play I kept thinking about the movie “It Happened One Night”. This is a good thing, because it’s not an easy task to emulate to today’s frame of reference the rhythm and nonsense that pervades and dominates this particular movie. On this and other aspects the play is entirely successful.

This play is about a group of grifters, who want to rob a very notorious piece of jewellery. The leader of the gang is a chess player and as a byplay he also recites Portuguese poetry (Fernando Pessoa, etc). The effect is quite hilarious.

The plot takes place mainly in a joint owned by a simple woman, whose only aim in life is to get by, that is, she needs to meet the day-to-day bills in order to survive. Having to make ends meet is no trivial task. Genoveva is her name and she’s played by Ana Correia. There’s also another regular to the joint, that spends the days playing chess with himself and questioning the basic truths of life (Armando played by Paulo Martins). He keeps jotting down the “lines” that are worth remembering…. In my opinion these two are the most effective and consistent characters in the play. The interplay between them on stage is quite up to the mark. They seem to be having a blast! Their performance on stage rubbed off on the audience, that kept on laughing. I had someone sitting behind me that was on the verge of having a fit…

The set was quite impressive coming from a non-professional theater group. And it was really funny. Miguel Almeida did also a great job as Hugo, and as I stated before I thought the relationship between Genoveva and Armando was absolutely wonderful, as did most of the audience to judge from their laughter.

By cleverly using the clichés of the screwball comedy genre, the play becomes something else that fully works.

I hope that Álvaro Cordeiro's next play will be in the same vein.

In a range from 1 to 6, I’d give it a solid 5 just for the sheer joy.

Eindrücke des Buches "Verblendung" von Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson hat hier etwas Unterschiedes geleistet, aber nicht in literarischer Hinsicht.

Es gibt ein paar Dinge, die mir nicht gut gefallen haben. Zum Beispiel, die Zufälle, die der Handlung des Buches “hilft”.

Zentraler Zufall des Buches, d.h., die Kleinigkeiten, von der das ganze Buch abhängt.

Der Zufall ist Folgender: Der Herzanfall von Henrik Vanger hat der Handlung sehr gut gepasst. Ohne diese erzählende Künstlichkeit wäre das Buch nicht möglich! Daher nach meiner Meinung ist die Handlung kunstgemäss. Es fehlt dem Buch einen anderen Autor, den eine andere Schreibfähigkeit hätte. Ein Beispiel: “Cecilia Vanger ist auf vielen Bildern zu sehen. Sie scheint zwischen verschiedenen Gruppen hin und her zu wechseln. Nicht im Geringsten. Es waren zwei Personen, und zufälligerweise waren sie nie auf demselben Foto zu sehen […] Henrik hatte den Unterschied zwischen den Schwestern wahrscheinlich die ganze Zeit erkannt, aber für Mikael und Lisbeths Augen war die Ahnlichkeit so gross gewesen, dass sie davon ausgegangen waren, es müsse sich um ein und dieselbe Person handeln” (Seite 510). Das ist nur einen Zufall des Buches, den der Handlung des Buches gut gepasst hat. Es gibt mehrere Beispiele mehr. Darum schreibe ich über eine konstruierte Handlung, die nicht durchsichtig für den Leser ist. Es fällt auf, dass wir ein Buch lesen… Folglich habe ich ihm nur 4 Sternen gegeben (maximum 6 Sternen). Man muß sich schon im klaren darüber sein, daß Larsson nur Krimis im herkömmlichen Sinne schreibt. Wenn man zieht es vor, Krimis mit einer literarischen Neigung zu lesen, muss man einen anderer Autor auswählen ( z.B. Heinrich Steinfest). Larsson ist kein Literat!

Wirklich ein mittelmässiger Krimi. Man kann das eine oder andere kritisieren. So zum Beispiel der gar streng oben erwähnte konstruierte Aufbau der Handlung. Vielleicht liegt dies daran, dass das Buch “Verbledung” heisst. Das Ziel ist die Leute zu bleden und zu verwirren, und um das zu machen, muss man über etwas Ausgesprochenes schreiben. Einige der Abschnitten sind sehr anschaulich, z.B. was Lisbeths Erfahrungen mit dem Anwalt betreffen. Konnte der Autor ohne diese Details diese Wirkung auf uns auslösen? Vielleicht nicht. Alles hängt vom Ziel des Autors ab.

Was ich auch störend finde ist die Tatsache, dass der Hauptcharakter ( Kalle) mit jeder Frau ein Verhältnis hat. Das muss wirklich nicht unbedingt sein…

Bottom-line: Hochspanned und flüssig zum Lesen, aber es fehlt dem Buch viele Dinge.

segunda-feira, dezembro 15, 2008

More on Rilke

Answer to Wolfgang Ritter (now in English in order to have a greater audience):

The themes in Rilke are very varied: the mirror, the unicorn, the doll, the death of a young woman, animism (all things are possessed with inner “life”), death evolving like a tumor inside us, the rose, etc. Everyone that has read Rilke with some depth can always find something very particular that has some kind of special meaning. The themes I mentioned above are more or less the ones that are commonly associated with Rilke. The one that speaks volumes to me is when he writes about the Rose. He has one poem that for me is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever read.

What makes Rilke such a great poet? What is it that distinctly defines his craft? I don’t have the answer. What I do know is that Rilke is quite unique. When reading Rilke we look for something that he’s not elsewhere, but we know that we can find in his writings.

Rilke has a “special” language all of his own which seems to open another way of seeing und understanding the world. His nature is one that reflects upon life and art in a way that it’s quite distinctive. When I read Rilke I feel myself transported into another world. The way he perceives each object and the way he writes about it is something that permeates us. We feel somewhat different by reading his writing. How does he achieve this result of strangeness? I think it’s due to his way of constructing sentences, his word-ending inventiveness, the transformation of adverbs into adjectives and vice-versa, sometimes the use of adjectives as nouns. As anyone who has tried to produce some form of translation of his work, it’s quasi-impossible to achieve a result that it’s at least equivalent in terms of meaning to the original. The best is to read his work in the original, but even in the original sometimes it’s difficult do discern the true meaning of what he’s trying to convey. Sometimes there’s meaning within meaning, producing a Pandora-effect that it’s quite mesmerizing. That’s his technique to produce the other-worldly effect that I mentioned above.

I read a few months ago a bilingual work of the “The Sonnets to Orpheus” (“Os Sonetos a Orfeu” in Portuguese, “Die Sonette an Orpheus” in German) with a translation from German into Portuguese by José Miranda Justo. I quite appreciated his efforts. His solutions would not be necessarily mine, but who would claim to produce the perfect translation of a work by Rilke? Not me! Sometimes I was hugely surprised with the choosing of words. The Sonnets are written in a light, flowing, yet terribly condensed language of incredible musicality and verbal playfulness. An example (VIII, 1, pag. 26):

“Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Nierderschlage,
das er klar sei an demselben Fels […]”

And the poetic translation (pag. 27):

“Só no espaço da celebração é permitido à queixa
entrar, a ninfa da fonte chorada,
Cuidando do nosso precipitarmo-nos,
Para que seja claro […]”

In Portuguese this construction sounds somewhat odd. My own would look something like this:

“Apenas no reino da celebração pode o lamento
funcionar, a ninfa da fonte que chora,
olhando pela nossa precipitação,
de modo a que seja claro na mesma pedra […]”

For those of you who read Portuguese the difference is clear cut. I’m not stating that my translation is better. It’s just different. I’ll let you be the judge of the merits of each translation. I wouldn’t dare translating this into English. Does anyone want to have a go…? I can post your efforts in my blog.

I’ll leave here the 8th sonnet in its full splendor:

Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Niederschlage,
daß er klar sei an demselben Fels,
der die Tore trägt und die Altäre.
Sieh, um ihre stillen Schultern früht
das Gefühl, daß sie die jüngste wäre
unter den Geschwistern im Gemüt.
Jubel weiß, und Sehnsucht ist geständig,
nur die Klage lernt noch; mädchenhändig
zählt sie nächtelang das alte Schlimme.
Aber plötzlich, schräg und ungeübt,
hält sie doch ein Sternbild unsrer Stimme
in den Himmel, den ihr Hauch nicht trübt.

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