Estreia esta semana, quinta 29 de março, o espetáculo Naked Soldier, um monólogo “introspectivo, intimista mas também bem-humorado“. Alwin, um homem a viver em Viena de Áustria na década de 1970, após anos em que disfarçou a sua homossexualidade com uma postura arrogante, confronta e despe-se na sua busca pela identidade, encontrando – ele e o público – os seus sentimentos mais doces.
Em cena de quinta a sábado e até dia 28 de abril no Village Underground Lisboa, este espetáculo interpretado em Inglês da Buzico Produções Artísticas é baseado no romance de Belmen O e teve adaptação de Miguel Granja e Nils Wilkinson que também interpreta Alwin. Conversámos com ambos para entender melhor de que se despe este soldado em cena:
Alwin, o personagem de Naked Soldier, é um homem que se esconde inicialmente por trás de uma certa arrogância. Podemos falar numa máscara de sobrevivência que é comum, nestes ou noutros moldes, a muitas pessoas LGBTI? É este o de partida de Naked Soldier, tirar a máscara, a armadura, despir-se?
Miguel Granja: Sim e não. No início da peça, Alwin também conta episódios da sua infância e puberdade ligados à descoberta da sua orientação sexual. Logo de início ele revela uma visão muito carnal do que o rodeia, uma visão muito condicionada pelas suas preferências sexuais, o que acaba por limitá-lo, já que essa postura não era aceite nem sequer tolerada na sociedade burguesa de Viena de 1970. Sim, o ponto de partida é esse mesmo, o tirar a máscara, o despir. Alwin não se resume a contar episódios da sua vida. Ele aborda os seus sentimentos e emoções ao longo da sua vida.
Nils Wilkinson: Yes, I think it is common for LGBT people to hide or learn how to wear a mask depending on the context in which they move. Even today, the topic of visibility and invisibility is important. If you decide to hold hands with your partner or kiss in public, it means you will be visible. Some people I know still decide not to hold hands just to avoid conflict. They will even go so far as to say it is your fault if people make derogatory comments, because you could have chosen not to hold hands. So you’re being made responsible for negative experiences and you’re given the advice to stay invisible.
The city has always been the place where you could both hide and be seen whenever you wanted to, so the mask has always been an important cipher for LGBT life in novels and plays. Some are probably better at wearing them than others. Alwin surely has an arrogance to him, which is part of that need for survival, a necessity.
Quentin Crisp once wrote, if you constantly look into hateful faces, you learn to hold your head up high, not look left or right and walk with an arrogant grace through the streets so as to protect yourself from others. In my view, the title “Naked Soldier” is not so much about wearing or taking off the mask. You can’t take it off, because once you undress, culture has already imprinted yourself onto your body and your sexuality. You have become the mask. The soldier is naked, but his nakedness is his uniform.
We like to think of sexuality as something natural, stripped off of culture, but for Alwin sex reflects culture. The way you look at somebody, the way you touch him, your idea of sex is a uniform. In the anonymity that “Naked Soldier” addresses, uniformity in sex becomes a necessity, because you don’t communicate verbally. There are established rules how to fuck. There is a certain repetitiveness in his sexual encounters. Nakedness at the same time in the play stands for the fear of exposure, of losing control of that visibility-invisibility play. Only twice in his life he seems to make a deeper connection that he understands as pure devotion for another.
O romance de Belmen O situa-nos em Viena de Áustria nos anos 1970, porventura tempos drasticamente distintos dos de hoje, em especial para um homem que se batalha com a sua própria sexualidade. Ainda assim, onde encontraram as pontes que o transpõe para o presente?
MG: Há duas formas de abordar esta questão. Primeiro, a qualidade de documento que as vivências de Alwin constituem, vivências essas numa época anterior à internet e revolução sexual a ela inerente. Segundo, os conflitos humanos do protagonista sempre estiveram presentes nas vidas de todos nós, LGBTI ou não. As tensões das primeiras experiências, brincadeiras sexuais, os primeiros namoros, o amor, o confronto entre o que sentimos e aquilo que nos rodeia, ou mesmo aquilo que esperam de nós. No fundo, as barreiras com que nos deparamos em relação à autenticidade de cada um, as máscaras que vamos experimentando, colocando e abandonando. Tudo isto é atual, ou mesmo eterno.
NW: I see the bridges to the present first of all in my own reading experience of the novel when I was 26. I was deeply impressed by the arrogance and self-confidence of the character. I resonated a lot with what he was saying. My personal biography, especially with coming out as a gay man was joined by the experience of being visible in that village, at school, in pubs which you entered and people looked at you knowingly. I was a public topic. Up to today, living in the city, I am constantly aware of being visible when I hold hands with my partner. Like Alwin says, “I scan the surroundings in anticipation of possible observers.”
Also, the places to have sex that he describes are still there today: the saunas, the parks, the public toilets. And even though they may seem anachronistic today, obviously they still have a function for a lot of men. The aspect of remaining anonymous in sex, I think, is still an issue today. How much communication is taking place? How open are we? Do we allow the experience of devotion or do we keep that for a romantic relationship? Alwin despises the domestic family life. He’s aware he can’t escape the dominant culture and chooses isolation. He admits there is a certain bitterness in him, however, the others are bitter too. Gay isolation and straight domesticity are just two sides of the same coin. I think, it is an issue at the moment whether we all feel represented by the idea of marriage and domesticity or whether there can be other forms of living. Surely, the gay movement for a long time did not want marriage.
Another still vital question today, which the play addresses is, are we becoming soldiers in our sexuality through the standardization of profiles which we adapt to? We ask for clear features: active, passive, top, bottom, fetish – full stop. In German we call it the “porn dramaturgy” when you feel there is a clear script when you have a sex date, even though you haven’t discussed it with your partner. It is simply a given, you expect it. Is it easier to just go with the standard, because being open for unexpected erotic encounters is too ambivalent and you have no time for that? If you live in a culture which values competition and efficiency, it will not leave your sexuality, your ideas and expectations of it unaffected.
A música original, de Luís Filipe Silva, é também um dos elementos do espetáculo, como foi feita essa ligação de elementos?
MG: O espetáculo tem uma espécie de prólogo, uma pequena „performance“ introdutória. Quando eu falei ao Luís Filipe Silva, eu dei-lhe liberdade total para compor o tema de abertura da peça. Ainda que eu não queira revelar muito do que acontece nesse prólogo, o verbo ilustrador que eu dei ao Luís foi “desmontar emoções“.
Tendo passado por vários palcos – desde Dublin, onde estreou, a Bratislava – existe alguma distinção entre os públicos que o tornem o espetáculo permeável aos mesmos?
NW: An interesting moment in Dublin was when on one day there was a lot of laughter. A lot of older gay men were in the audience and recognized a few things from their own lives. On the next day I was expecting the audience to react in the same way, but it was dead quiet. I think a younger audience reacts to it differently. Maybe they seem shocked by Alwin’s cold pragmatism whereas older gay men can laugh about it and at the same time not wish that time back.
For the Irish, Alwin’s dealing with religion was a strong aspect and how he remembers his first encounter with Jesus as very erotic. Someone who wrote a review said the character was very unapologetic and that there was no “gay angst” as usual, which I liked. The character does not necessarily make you feel pity for him, but many are used to hearing tragic stories of gay men and identifying with them. Some visitors were taken aback by Alwin, especially how he addresses the power constellations between men.
In Bratislava I was told the explicit use of sexual language was very provocative and unusual. A German visitor, remembering his own way of life in the 70s and 80s, similar to that of Alwin’s, said “wow, were we fucked up!”, realizing how the social conditions made you become cold and hardened. I wonder how the Portuguese audience will be.
Não deixem pois de conhecer o enigmático Alwin. Poderão arranjar bilhetes para o espetáculo, que estará em cena de quinta a sábado e até dia 28 de abril no Village Underground Lisboa, na Bilheteira Online.
Nota: Obrigado ao Miguel Granja, ao Nils Wilkinson e ao Bruno Valente pela disponibilidade 🙂