Robert Waltl, The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests
On Tuesday, May 11th at 20:00, MINI TEATER Ljubljana will present The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests, a drama text in the form of a one-phrase monologue
written by Bernard-Marie Koltës in 1977. The first staging of this text was directed by Ivica Buljan and it is performed by Robert Waltl.
After the performance the spectators will have a toast with the actor Robert Waltl to celebrate the Ljubljana City Award 2010 given to the actor for his exceptional achievements in the field of cultural creativity. MINI TEATER is known for their quality performances, their genuine contact with the audience, and their numerous awards, so spectators over 16 yet young in their hearts and years may expect another beautiful and unforgettable experience.
The search inside
This exceptional drama text written by Koltés marked his entire literary opus which – after his own words – started with The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests in 1977. In appearance, the text complies with the form that in theatre is defined as a monologue. It is however not an ordinary monologue but rather a solisoquium, a pseudo-monologue, a speech directed to someone who gives no answer. In The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests, the fate of the speaker is turning around the topics the author liked most: loneliness, search of his own identity, dreaming about a better and nicer life, exclusion from the society, incapability of expressing demands, incapability of resisting the desire. This pseudo-monologue is directed towards a fictitiously present co-speaker - a lonely man in the street, in the rain talking to another man, a young man. He demands nothing from him and even if he wanted anything, his desire is so strong and so confused that it represents almost its own denial. With this text the author achieved the balance between the spoken and the written language for the first time, and it became the trade mark of his entire drama work. There is no action here, no answer; the text structure is defined by the fading and the loss of the speaker's thoughts. It is however impossible for the spectator not to peceive something dark within this plea.
Rain, rain, rain …
Within this text one can find all the things that later become a recognisible trace of the greatnes in Koltès' writing. First the character, who in his loneliness, in his desire for the Other, in his supplication for love is so much alike the writer himself. Then the exclusion, the violence, the passionate yearning for a relation that involves no money or sex. And in the end, the non-repeatable balance between the spoken and the written language. This is a pseudo-monologue where the meaning of the entire monologue in Koltès' work has been delineated. And this is also the first text the author himself decided to publish.
The structure is paradoxical: the text flows in one breath, with no sharp punctuation marks, as if the speed of speaking made every subconscious break in thoughts impossible. 'The speaking' is driven by no external event, as if any intervention from the external world could only disturb the flow of the speaking. Paradoxically, the discourse is not following the rhythm coming from different themes or speech actions, which differ from one another or marki 'moments' within the discoursive flow. How is it possible to articulate a text where the only supporting point is this addressing the unchangeable 'you'? This 'you' is just faintly defined, with no identity, with no clear features. 'You' – a clean and almost abstract relation with the Other. The articulation represents a problem for the actor. A musical structure. A fugue. And then the problem begins to elucidate when one remembers that Koltès was never far from musical writing.
The overture to The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests sets the basic themes upon the encounter in individual parts of the text. And there are motives placed among these themes recognisible for their connection with the speaker's personal experience. Themes: first the rain, a theme of constant discomfort: it rains up to the very last line
(… and constantly this rain, rain, rain …); the rain is always mentioned as an element of ugliness or perhaps even of pain. Then the hostile presence of the others – the jerks hanging around; these jerks will always be here, as the 'French jerks' who in the end turn into 'a brothel', a general definition for horror surrounding the speaker.
From the victim to the spectator
The theme of the room: 'I'm looking for a room as it's not possible to go to my place.' A room, an image of an escape from the external world, from the rain, from the jerks; a picture of a place where it would be possible to talk, to be with the other, to love him, perhaps? The room and the nostalgia it arouses – they cover the first four pages. This room is unreachable, just like the picture of an escape. Because the 'I' - the speaker in this text – is a stranger in the first place. And the theme of a stranger – when these 'French jerks' see him washing and 'quenching his prick' - goes on and on almost in every page. And in the end, the theme of the encounter, of meeting that 'you' standing right in front of 'me'. This 'you' finally gains more accurate features of a 'not too strong... sweetheart'. Later in the text we can find 'bunnies, true mummy's darlings', a 'bunny' who in the last page becomes 'an angel standing in the middle of a circus, and here you are, and I love you'. Here, a parallel can be drawn to the syndicate topic in the international level – a dream of brotherhood which is neither political nor trade-unionist. And then suddenly, the theme of yearning for the Other, for the fair-haired, or for the boy who suddenly appeared at the corner of the street.
Motives: These are reports; in the first two and in the last one, the speaker appears as a victim, while in all the others he is just a spectator, yet a shocked and a sensitive spectator. As if the yearning for a beautiful girl was cut by the dazzling eyes, 'as if one could only imagin', as if she was inviting him to go with her 'to chase the rats'. As an opposite to his love for Mum, for the promised girl from the bridge. Then there is the story of a woman, a whore who ate and filled herself up with earth in the graveyard because she wanted to die. And about another whore who threw her customer's clothes through the window so he could not pay her. All the women motives speak about love, hate, death, depression. Death is already here, the crazy soldiers, the general in Nicaragua killing birds so they would not fly - and their victim is the poor speaker.
Finale: The episode with the old-lady's song is the introduction to the finale, where motives and themes meet and interlace in a mere enumeration and without any cause-consequence connection: the girl in a sleeping gown, whores and the graveyard, doves flying over the forest, and soldiers shooting at them…, mother, the companion and the rain, and constantly this rain, rain, rain, rain…
More about the performance and the author of The Night at the Very Edge of the Forests by Bernard-Marie Koltesu on:
Duration of the performance: 45 minutes
Production: Mini teater, ARL Dubrovnik and Novo kazalište Zagreb
Mini teater, Križevniška 1, May 11, 2010 at 20.00