The Revolt Against Order

/, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 29/The Revolt Against Order

The Revolt Against Order

D. Final result

If we take that the final result is the realization of the aim of the rebellion, we come to the following situation:
1. Arthur’s rebellion, imagined as a wish to make order, for strictly portioned freedom, which won’t be anarchical, is completed by Edek.
Mrożek’s Edek, according to the understanding of the other persons (Eleonore) is a natural man, as we would all like to be. This naturalism means that he is not burdened with principles, theories and philosophies on aspects of the purpose of life. As he says, he knows what he needs to know. And so, he will create order out of the sudden, as Arthur thought, through power. To accomplish totalitarian power, one doesn’t need an idea, nor value, nor meaning, because it is an aim in itself. As Esslin says, if the rational and ideological foundation of one code of conduct is ruined, only brutal force can make people adjust to one model, regardless of what model that is.
The drama ends with the vulgar Edek and the aunt Eugen, gentleman from the old generation, dancing the tango over Arthur’s dead body. This last tango is not just accidentally taken from the title, because it shows the “alliance of the brutal force, freed from the whole culture of the whole society, with authoritativeness that encircles a feudal order, where the brutal force governs under a thin layer of good manners and aristocratic kindness.”9F M. Esslin interprets this intricate family condition in the drama as a direct allusion of the situation in the USSR, where Arthur represents the revolutionary intellectuals, ideologists like Lennin and Trocky, i.e. those who struggled to make a new order, for introducing new order in the relationships among people. However, the ideological intellectuals turned out historically too delicate to bear the ultimate consequences of their own ideas, which didn’t exclude brutal force. But, what Arthur couldn’t do, was done by the primitive Edek (i.e. Stalin, Berija, etc.) because he was not possessor of any principles except cheap movie phraseology and gamblers’ terminology, and he says so in the drama: “he knows what he needs to know”.
2. The Grand Brilliant Waltz ends with Chopin’s waltz, on a dancing party organized by Vologja. At the end, he concludes that the party has to finish finally, because everything is set up, everyone is inside, they understand each other well. But he admits that the path to that situation was not an easy one: “Difficult and nasty work is behind me. I admit, I am a bit tired”. 10F Vologja is a character very similar to Edek, according to his position and characteristics. He is a primitive that takes up the situation in his own hands. It seems to him that what is going on in the institution is not all right, and decides to establish the order according to his understanding of it. He wants to establish order, to bring things to their end, so that there isn’t any chaos anymore, and so that people aren’t crazy, like they are here. He is not content with the reasoning and uncertainty of the doctor, and thinks that he can accomplish the doctor’s potential ideas much better. Vologja is the one who cuts off Weber’s leg, believing that with that method he externalizes the problem and therefore it would be easier to eliminate it. At the same time, according to him, he freed the doctor of the wish to be a surgical doctor. So, as Inkret says, Vologja translates the metaphors into direct meaning and immediate action, and by a surgical cut, he solves the situation. The situation here is similar to the one in Tango: here it is only suggested that the ultimate possibility for the intellectuals, that they oppose to implement, is accomplished by the primitives, because in their (primitives’) outlook of life things are much easier, they are not burdened with subtle meanings, with analysis of the consequences, with the “metaphors” which are hidden in every word. The symbolism of the waltz is that everyone dances it without exception, which means that it manages to erase the difference between the madness and the desire, and ultimately, there’s no freedom, only madness– with all the meanings that can be attached to this metaphor: dictatorship, loss of identity and individuality, creation of a chorus of subordinate people who will be subdued to a government lead by the primitive forces. At this point, the motto of the institution is actualized: the freedom liberates.
Just like in Mrożek’s drama, here also only the primitives realize their hidden agenda. They use their own freedom and the weakness of the intellectuals in order to take matters into their own hands, to grab power. (As A. Inkret says, apart of the similarity with Edek, this character is closer to some characters in Slovenian literature– they are replicas of Francelj, power without qualification, by Dusan Jovanovic, and also a character from The golden shoes by Dominik Smole. Obviously, the primitives are never lacking, neither in life, nor in literature.
4. Order is established in the retirement house as well. After the fall of the manager, lead by liberal ideas, an alcoholic who is sent to a sanatorium to be treated, his place is taken by Mutle. We should note at this point that this character is the weakest in comparison to the two previous ones, but the three share one common feature: in this case too, it is a primitive person, uneducated, but cunning (he pretends to be deaf) who comprehends things and successfully takes over. His name is a reflection of his character in the drama, Mutle (Silly), a name that signifies a person who cannot speak, and even more common as an incapable, simple man. Obviously, the author accounts for this meaning. But, apart from these external images, in the play he is portrayed as sly, he tries to comprehend matters, carefully observing everyone’s behavior, and at the right moment imposes himself as the manager of the retirement house.
If we agree that the environment of the three plays: a civil salon in decay, institution for rehabilitation of the politically inappropriate and a retirement house– is a metaphor of the world, or more concretely, of one civil society, we can conclude that all three dramas imply harsh social criticism.
That is why, the moment of revolt is common for the three of them, as a desire to change the social circumstances. This is the main idea of all three compared texts. A revolt for a decent order of things as opposed to anarchic freedom which certain groups of people are plotting for (parties, systems) who guided only by their own interests, lead towards total chaos. (Arthur’s parents, the manager, partly the doctor, as representatives of wider social classes). The revolt is based on examples of the past (Weber – Polish insurgent, Arthur– behavioral models from the previous century, the former order in the retirement house) and is directed towards the prohibitive limits of a certain regime. A revolt because of the abundant liberalism of the intellectuals, who demand radical changes in all areas of life.
The rebellion ends in the same way for everyone– using the weakness of the intellectuals, their insecurity with regards to accomplishing their own principles of freedom, the situation is used by the primitives to impose their understanding about the order of things. In other words, the noble revolutionary motifs of the idealists (intellectuals) are always misused by someone else, someone primitive interpreter who will simplify the situation to the maximum and thus, will conquer power.

E. The question of the theatre (the auto– referentiality of the texts)

All three texts, as we already said, are metaphorical, with multiple meanings and so it would be wrong to connect them to certain concrete events. As a result of the multiplicity of meanings, especially in Mrożek’s text, the whole situation may be interpreted as a discussion on the theatre. The Arthur’s revolt and the demand for order and rules, may also apply to the drama and the theatre itself (as he is told in the drama– he wants a tragedy, but the tragedy is dead, it is impossible in our situation, only the farce is of people’s interest) On the other hand, Stomil favors the experimental theatre, whose purpose is to surprise, to shock, and so he manages to do that. On one hand, the situation may be interpreted as a revolt against the anarchy in art, a fight for the old forms, and then victory of the primitive taste, which will create the art using old clichés, brutally changing them, and then simplifying them to a trivial form.
Janchar mentions the theatre only once (as an institution, where everyone is crazy– that’s why the doctor wouldn’t like to be a manager there). If we interpret it more generally, although the text doesn’t imply that, we could draw a parallel: in the theatre everyone is crazy, as they are in the institution the freedom liberates (the state), with accidental managers– primitives, who determine the repertoire. (Analogy with Madman by Dusan Jovanovic)
The question of the theatre is present in the text of Andonovski as well. That is the scene when two artists– amateurs, arrive in the retirement house and offer to play a text by the well-known collector of Macedonian traditional texts and songs from the nineteenth century, M. Cepenkov. The play is a dramatization of a legend about the custom to leave exhausted elderly people in the mountains, to die. The play is one of the reasons for elderly’s rebellion– because the text is altered – there are interventions.
(“On the Balkans a war may start because of a change of a word in a traditional story”– it is said in the text) The traditionalism and conservatism of the environment if emphasized. This fact will be symbolically presented through the refrigerator– it is a space where everyone can fit, and the young amateurs are hanging as pieces of frozen meat. The symbol is clear: it is a wish for conservation, for freezing the situation in general, but also of the theatre, which is obstructed by forces like this. So, the experiment for a creative approach towards tradition (the folklore inheritance) according to Andonovski, is unsuccessful. The creativeness of the younger generation is frozen by the traditionalism. (In this text there is a line by Stevo: this kind of theatre has no chances. The society imposes rules that must be respected– in order for someone to start a theatre, one must graduate at the Academy (an institution), which on the other hand requires minimum of certain grade. All these are rules, that are enforced by the system, that model the young generation and make them similar to one another, and therefore their creativity and freedom is smothered.

Instead of a conclusion

The three texts that we analyzed originate from three different environments– Poland, Slovenia, Macedonia, from three different periods in time, 1965, 1985 and 1996. But as we said, several crucial problems that are the foundation of all three are obvious: the discontent with the situation in the society, revolt, rebellion of the intellectuals; all desiring to change the situation in the state (and the theatre). The rebellion fails, because as a rule, the revolt is used by the primitive forces, who establish new order, guided by their own primitive comprehension.
We should emphasize that Tango has the most coherent structure, consistent and precise expression of the attitudes of the author, successfully included in the problems of one family. Each new reading stirs admiration and revelation of new subtle meanings. Therefore it is not surprising that the text inspires the younger writers as well. But this interest is creative, inspiring for discovery of new, and different ways to express one, essentially eternal theme about the non-freedom, for the revolt and the wrong implementation of the outcomes of the fight for it. Although metaphorical, the pieces by Mrożek and Janchar still refer to the totalitarian systems, their establishment and operation, while the drama by the youngest of the three, V.Andonovski, the totalitarianism means respect of the authoritative figures and the tradition. At this point we have to say that in his play also, the firm and consistent structure which leads to the defined aim, i.e. idea is not adequately achieved.

Translated by: Panorea Buklevska

9. M. Esslin: Au dela de l’absurde, Op. cit, 189
10. D. Jančar: Veliki briljantni valček, Op. cit. 72

2018-08-21T17:23:35+00:00 November 1st, 2002|Categories: Reviews, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 29|0 Comments