London - March 1, 2011


Most critics hate it. Living on a tightrope…

When Village Voice critics – such as Michael Feingold and Erica Munk – used to trash Robert Wilson’s pieces in the 1980’s, they would get a letter from the director saying “I hope you’ll die”. Wilson is alive and well and continues to work. As for the Voice, well it’s on the brink of death.

I heard this “hope you’ll die” story from both sides. Wilson used to saying it laughingly. Yet, the critics were outraged. It’s a funny notion when you see that a critic can feel “hurt” after hurting so many people. But they do. Critics are the most vulnerable of beings because their lifespan is short, none of them are ever remembered in the future and – the majority of them end up specializing in writing biographies on this and that author or director. So, historically, they throw one’s private life against one’s work. Is it fair? It’s vile, venomous, but (I guess) fair. In the case of Time Out, the reviewer takes his time and uses up his lines to quote me, myself, and my manifesto, written 1 and a half years ago. Fine. Really? Let’s think. This time the critic didn’t review the play. He reviewed me. He researched my manifesto. He quotes my past and whom I have worked with. And this hardly matters to an audience member. What matters is what he saw. And what he saw was a group of fantastic actors performing a piece. He is such a lazy thinker that he asked our own PR people to feed him with the line with which he ends his review. Lazy writer, blind as the blind boy in Throats itself.

No actors are mentioned. He goes and vilifies me. So, it’s personal. A review should focus on THE PLAY and not on what the playwright declared a year ago or whom he or she have collaborated with. Where is this guy from? What has he proven to the world? He compares me to a playwright or director of whom I have NEVER EVER heard. But the critic feels as if he’s the ultimate truth teller. He’s just a teller. As in a bank, he hands out cash but does not OWN the money or the intellectual property. In the end, it’s all quite ridiculous. The guy is called True Man. Another reviewer is calle Love It (Lovett). In NY, the guy who reviewed Anchorpectoris in 2004 was called Travisd (pronouced Travesty). Walter Kerr said goodbye to the NYTimes when he realized (after trashing the American opening of Waiting for Godot, by Beckett), that he had made a HUGE mistake. He apologized 25 years too late and acknowledged having ruined thousands of talents.

The Time Out and an Italian review below. Have fun. This is part of living on a tightrope where the incredible lightness of being can feel as heavy as a hard hard brick, between a rock and….a sponge, really. Not a hard place!!!! A sponge! I wish you a long and healthy life mr. critic (opposite what Bob Wilson would have said).

Time Out first said:

Internationally acclaimed experimental theatre director Gerald Thomas brings his ‘dry opera’ concept – an original play performed with the heightened theatricality of opera – to the UK for the first time.

Then it said:

A sometime collaborator with Beckett, Heiner Müller and Phillip Glass, Gerald Thomas gave up on theatre in 2009. ‘I do not believe,’ he wrote at the time, ‘that our times reflect theatre as a whole (or vice versa).’ On the evidence of this vitriolic return, which does little more than outline his gripes, it’s tempting to suggest that theatre gave up on Gerald Thomas.

Tiresome and time-warped, bold but boorish, ‘Throats’ feels like sub-par Howard Barker. It shows a host of symbolic figures, among them a black orthodox Jew, a Shoreditch dandy and a severed head, banqueting beneath the rusted carcass of the Twin Towers. On Jan-Eric Skevik’s scab-like set (a rare positive), it’s The Last Supper painted by Banksy.

Before long, playful surrealism is suffocated by generic, scattergun rage. Legitimate targets – celebrity, vanity, egotism, ideological vacuity – are splurged together to form an ineffectual litany of grievances.

When it comes to railing, however, a little specificity goes a long way. Thomas is so intent on rebuking ‘the emerging generation’, that he shouts himself hoarse, spouting nonsense like, ‘Respectability and absurdity are first cousins secretly fucking each other. While status films it. Wanking. Over the tits of culture.’ Quite.

GERALD THOMAS é autor e diretor teatral.