Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.” - Wishevoke

Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.”

The novel was written in 1983 in the author’s well-known delusional style The loser tells the story of the fictional friendship between the legendary Canadian pianist Glen Gould and two Austrian former classmates of his Vladimir Horowitz, who lived their lives as failed pianists. It is a short novel that is also a biting treatise on envy, ambition, fame, genius, perfectionism, obsession and frustration. The author narrates the despair with relentlessly biting humor but also with deep love for his crippled heroes and seems to order the entire story around the repetitive, circular structure of “Goldberg Variations” by Johann Sebastian Bach, which portrays the characters’ egocentrism, obsessions, compulsions and fixation in their insurmountable dead ends in both torturous and delightful ways. At the same time, however, he does not forget to mercilessly cauterize the moral decay of post-war Austria, which, even decades after the fall of National Socialism, is still imbued with cynicism and cruelty, operating according to the law of absolute winners and desperate losers.

The performance brings Bach’s music into constant dialogue with his spoken word and musicality, thus composing an idiosyncratic “spoken musical” that moves in the space between prose and musical theater.

«The failed one “It’s a novel by Thomas Bernhardt that I’ve wanted to turn into a play for a long time,” says the director. “Since I read it, I really love the theme, the whole thing about failure and obsession, failure and unhappiness, and because it’s actually about Glenn Gould, I thought it would be very interesting material for a show.” He is a guy who addresses even the hardest things with humor and really opens up the topic a lot, making it very playful without losing any of its depth. And in fact this was achieved quite effortlessly in the show. I worked on the arrangement with a lot of joy and inspiration.

It’s inevitably an adaptation, because I had to reduce the book by 1/5, but also give it a structure again, make it smaller, so to speak, and structure it according to the pieces of music. One of the show’s arrestees is Glenn Gould, played by NiarrosHe’s constantly on stage and it’s like he’s learning, like he’s practicing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” at home, so I basically created a new script based on the way these pieces work together and the way they play , how they interact with the speaker’s reason.

In general, I work musically with language to create content and pleasure for the ear, so things that I had tried to do in previous performances, mainly in Moliere, in the School of Women, with the parallel use of music, became much more comprehensive and informed were for mediation. It just seemed much more theatrical to me from the start, in the sense that the characters, apart from the narrator, who is played by me and is a more neutral person, are essentially the “passersby” in it, they are very theatrical in that Sense that they step on realistic faces. On the other hand, they have the minimum of caricature that Bernhard brings, which is both fun and a great challenge for the actor who will portray it.

The translation was his Vasilis Tomanas, which I edited sufficiently to create a new structure – in any case, the setting of the novel is very charming and everything takes place in a hotel. I got all the action in there, even some scenes that were outside I managed to get them in there. I naturally relied on the language of Tomanas, who found a way to render Bernhard very beautifully, because his text is difficult. I also consulted English translations and created a text that has its own rhythm.

Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.” Facebook Twitter
Aris Balis. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos
Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.” Facebook Twitter
Hector Lygizos. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos

The music of the piece is the “Goldberg Variations”: of the 30 plus the aria, I chose the half that Gould plays. We’ll also make use of Gould’s habit of humming while playing. In some places there are things we whisper to each other, even as choral parts. It’s like a piece gets stuck in your head. In this way, movement is created, something like an improvised dance – everything is based on ballroom dances of the Renaissance.

In researching the show – and I still have a lot to learn in rehearsals – I found out that, aside from his odd part, Gould only performed publicly for two or three years and then decided to develop this thing in-house at a recording studio and play a lot with technology. It is characteristic that many of his recordings are composed of many takes, and for ideological reasons, because he believed he represented something clean, which is a question of composition. I confirmed that he was a man with a frightening knowledge of the music in which he had immersed himself. I also didn’t know that he had done much on both television and radio to publicize his work in any way. I learned that in addition to those who admire him, there are also those who are his opponents because they cannot recognize the pieces from his performances, especially Bach.

I also didn’t know that he created his myth mainly through absence, that he changed himself over the years, d obsessed at a very fast pace and found other ways again. The interesting thing is that Bernard never met Gould, he just made up an imaginary contract. It’s funny that he recomposed it, and of course he didn’t die of syncope while playing the piano. Anyway, the one we are going to see is not the real Gould, but Bernhard’s Gould and then our Gould. It’s nice that mythical things like this fall into your hands and continue to transform.”

Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.” Facebook Twitter
Yannis Niarros. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos
Hector Lygizos directs Bernhard’s “The Failed.” Facebook Twitter
Amalia Moutousi. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos

The setting of the play, as in the narrative present of the novel, is the foyer of an abandoned Central European hotel, where the nameless narrator unravels his recurring thoughts after Gould’s death and the suicide of their mutual friend, while the dead are constantly present around him like ghosts , which reproduce conversations, aphorisms and events from their shared past. At the same time, the performance brings Bach’s music into constant dialogue with his spoken word and musicality, thus composing a peculiar “spoken musical” that moves in the space between prose and musical theater.

“The piece is about the struggle with ambition, but also about the reason why one pursues art, about all the competition that reaches mastery levels, especially in these genres, opera and classical music.” At the same time, it is also about life beyond art, where it is difficult to wake up in the morning and reinvent yourself. Both the narrator and Gould envy Wertheimer, who says that he wakes up every morning with a new feeling, that he has found a way to throw away the past and find a reason for being. I think we’ve all been through a decade of back and forth, and if we had one reason to be depressed, now we have ten. I would say that while I’m very interested in everything I’ve done over the last few years, this project interests me a little bit more.”

Further information about the show can be found here

The article was published in LiFO-Print.

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