Script for a culinary theatre show based on the myth of King Midas, by Chef Rø [aka Rogério Nuno Costa]. First published in 2015, commissioned by Portuguese art magazine Retina (Issue #1: Myths). It was then adapted for the performance “The War of the Worlds”, premiered at “Pôr-do-Sol nas Virtudes” (Sonoscopia) and Maus Hábitos (Queer Porto Festival). An English version/translation was made in 2018 for the journal “Food and other practices in the Arthouse” edited by Ali Akbar Mehta & Vidha Saumya (Aalto University, Finland).
A digital comedy, promiscuous and polyamorous, in many acts: a theme party with an interactive performance for an interpassive audience, an indie’gestible cinema festival, a tasting menu provided by Special K’tering (serving culinary experiences since 1998), and a DJ set, of course. All meant to take place in any nightclub in Lisbon and/or Porto during the year 2015. And beyond.
Genre: Stand-Up Tragedy. Target Audience: Bare Backstreet Boys. Dress Code: All That Glitters Is Not Gold [subject to free interpretation, provided that it features a pair of Ancient Greek sandals; mandatory]. Duration: until the MDMA [stands for “Many Different Masks Allowed”] trip is over. Password: Lame.
A product by Chef Rø, Creative Industries, Oy. Under the content management of Rogério Nuno Costa and the participation of at least one queer performer.
It doesn’t look like, but this is a recipe. A recipe for SUCKCESS. The SUCKCESS is written in capital letters since it is the name of a character (probably the protagonist) of the play that I am currently writing to accompany the event FINGER FOOD™, which is also the name of a collective, a platform, a company, a project, an organization, a group, a cluster, a startup, and many other territorial congregations coming out of the brand new contemporary neo-feudalism. The SUCKCESS is always dressed up in gold, the favourite seasoning of the poor’tuguese clubbers. And the text is written in a style invented by the Greeks called MEME’sis: silly wordgames, SMS language, smartphone generation, the implosion of capitalism. It’s not a solo, but has selfies. It’s not a group performance, it’s a groupie performance. Inspirations: me, my middle finger, and my fans. It begins with the triumphant entrance of SUCKCESS. Drums, wind machine, conffetti, and the first cue:
— You’re not a foodie! You’re just foodie’do! (Portuguese for “fucked”)
(leaves by the left high of the stage; SUCKCESS always leaves by the left high of the stage.)
Revenge is best tasted cold. If Aristotle was a cook, he would starve. That’s logical. After the tragic departure of SUCKCESS, a Voice explains the meaning of finger food, referring to Lacan’s objet petit a whilst showing an irritating tendency to say velouté instead of puréed soup. Asking who is the man and who is the woman in a homosexual relationship is the same as asking whose finger is the knife and whose finger is the fork in a metrosexual meal. That is: more Fasc’ion than Fashion. Syllogism: since the invention of Language, the World has been evolving backwards. Now the Telescreen reveals an hologram of Carl Sagan showing us in which part of History the Homo Sapiens started to exist, his feet stepping on the last seconds of the 31st day of December in the cosmic calendar. Man is already a man, and yet keeps celebrating réveillon as if there is no tomorrow: a flûte of dead champagne in one hand, eleven raisins still waiting to be eaten in the other, tongue battering the teeth, a line of blood dropping out the left nostril. The Voice shuts up. A big canvas with a printed image of Warhol’s Campbell soup can starts coming down the cyclorama. Sound landscape: a glitch resonance, resembling a scratched vinyl, of Samantha Fox moaning “Touch me, touch me, I wanna feel your body”. Clapping. Enters the King. He has no clothes, of course, but hanging H&M and Zara labels can easily be seen. Vociferating:
— Man wills, the Work dreams, God is born!
(and leaves by the right high; the King always leaves by the right high.)
In the backstage, the performers stick their fingers in Acipenser Ruthenus sturgeon’s caviar, the only naturally golden food product known in nature. They ignore the etimology with the same repudiation they show for the wheat crackers, but don’t mind indulging in vodka shots and rushing to the toilets too many times. According to a new Orthographic Agreement, bohemia is now written booh!emia. Outside, the audience is being fed with crudités; gastronomic pedophilia meets vegan nazism meets severe sexual dysfunction. Little girls (both sexes), dressed up in Made in Bangladesh from head to toe, yawn their mouths out; they switch off their iPhones to save battery, drowning in their own soporific vanity. There’s one who stands up: ironic shirt, transgender headband, super-tight tights climbing up her ass. She remains still for some seconds, three-quarter position, duck face, bended wrist, then gaggles:
— Gawd! Relational Aesthetics is soooo last season… Where’s the after-party?
(…doesn’t leave, stays; eternally.)
The performers leave the backstage. They are extremely focused, but pretend to be relaxed, walking on a white linoleum (brand: EUROPA™) with their gourmet colored sneakers. The linoleum shines, it seems to have own light, looking exactly the same as all the other white linoleums featured in all the other spectacles we’ve already seen. It is concave and convex at the same time. It is vegan. The performers do some neutral movements with their arms and necks, as if they were saying: “This is neither meat nor fish”. Just like the spectators, who remain darkly seated, while eating Belgian™ cookies they brought from the foyer. One of the actresses ultimately wiggles her head, glaring at the audience, lastly reciting, with a fashion blogger voice intonation:
— Tzatziki is the new guacamole.
(and keeps on sliding her sturgeon-scented fingers through the white linoleum, pretending to be poor, though anxious to return to the backstage, where she pretends to be rich.)
The spectators read the synopsis:
“Cosplay, orコスプレ (Japanese: kosupure), is the portmanteau word that agglutinates costume and play (or roleplay), and refers to a playful activity performed by human beings who love to dress up as characters. Those characters can come from anime and manga-inspired videogames, cinema, music, comics, but also vintage theatre, gastronomy, and Nightlife™ (a recent cosplay movement where the players pretend to be in a REAL party, and that party is being REALLY amazing, and everybody is having so much REALITY fun together). The goal is to give a form (without content) to that generic and trans-epochal idea that we can call “meta-theme party” (the operational concept that grounds all cultural/artistic production since Man started writing the word Man with a capital letter until nowadays). As Slavoj Žižek points out…”
(the reading is interrupted by the gong; the audience is called for the second part of the Fake Yoga session.)
The scenery is one of those Euro-cosmopolitan entrepeneurship cathedrals that serve raw cakes and chia smoothies. Many individuals, showing their ankles in rolled up slim fit trousers and sockless shoes, are eating ruccula, mozzarella and dried tomatoes in fair trade slices of bread that look like having been polished, varnished and trimmed in Photoshop. The room is covered in rustic-wannabe wallpaper, retro lamps and fake antique souvenirs. All the waiters have a degree in Graphic Design: they all have Helvetica faces. The speakers spit some trendy easy-listening album with a warranty seal by Pitchfork. Drums. Enters the PATRON SAINT OF CLICHÉS, wearing a dress that is white & gold for those who believe, and black & blue for those who believe they believe. She brings a Madonna-like microphone, it looks as if she is about to give a TED talk, but she actually speaks the language of an artistic director. She calls for the A(R)THLETE, who appears on stage wearing an Emerging Artist mask:
PATRON SAINT OF CLICHÉS — Hey, you, vainglorious! Come here! I am planning to open a restaurant called El Bullying! What do you think? (laughs)
A(R)THLETE (speaking in Continental English) — Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! I don’t know!!! Am I gonna die? (calling) The Great Other! The Great Other!! Where are you, The Great Other? Can I answer this question, The Great Other? Oh no… (throws up)
PATRON SAINT OF CLICHÉS — You stupid scoundrel! Didn’t you understand that my question had a trap? I was testing your conceptual endurance, your social stamina, in order to assess your ability to stand on your knees until the next season. Praying, no staggering! Or are you one of those who bites the hand that feeds you when the opportunity arises?
A(R)THLETE (bowing to receive the gold medal) — I promise I will refrain from doing any work that might be affiliated to some context-oriented art movement, or inspired by the critique of power and politics, or addressing subjects of identity, posthumanism or queer studies. As far as I know, that’s the air du temps. And I’m intolerant to air du temps! If I breathe air du temps, I can hyperventilate, get swollen, and start feeling an uncontrollable desire to do workshops…
PATRON SAINT OF CLICHÉS — OK, enough! Time for handing out some brochures…
(They both leave, arm-in-arm, heading to the vernissage. The most frequent word they say is “interesting”.)
Enters Rogério Nuno Costa dressed up as Facebook. Observes the audience with the exact same condescending gaze he has been rehearsing every day in the mirror since 1978. Playbacking his own voice:
— If we are what we eat, then we also are what we shit.
(leaves; there’s nothing more to do than leaving.)
My fingers hurt for having touched so much. (Do not try this at home!) This text, being a recipe for success, has to be thrown out of the window. It is there, in the outside, that the secondary effects, written in very small letters, may be read, but only by those who are patient, or who have totally lost their patience for Patience. Thus this text, this recipe, should be seen through a magnifying glass. Selective myopia. For all that glitters is not gold, it’s just cheap spraying and Instagram filters. That among the poor, a camouflaged man is king. That success is not for everybody, it is for everything. That this is just a serving suggestion: the milk is white glue and the fruits are made out of plastic. That theatre shows are the front and back, all at the same time, of an American™ package of breakfast cereal. That the best sellers are the Lucky Charms, twink’le twink’le little stars with fashionable hairdos, big on social (chla)mydia. That reading is fundamental, but with modesty. That vegan does not only apply to food; also tourism, spirituality, science, art, economy, sports, charity, and journalism can be vegan — more chaff than wheat! We’re all eating seitan steaks that taste like beef, soon to become beef steaks that taste like seitan. Mediocrity is the new avantgarde! And less, I’m really sorry to say, is just less.
Poortugal™, The Best Country In The World, Oy, is now this homeopathic medicine wrapped up in recycled paper, InDesign logo and special discounts for professionals. Never fails! Just like that Macintosh-lover DJ that make little mistakes on purpose while playing live so to prove that he is actually playing live. We have to believe! Fervently! That 0,1% of talent diluted in 99,9% of water can go unnoticed…
In Poortugal™, The Best Country In The World, Oy, there are two recipes for success: the social one (Life doesn’t imitate Art, it imitates Facebook), and the artistic one (Life being constantly annihilated by Art, even if only on Facebook). Both recipes are not equivalent; they don’t complement. For Artists are nothing but Actors playing the part of Artists. That 0,1% of artistic recipe diluted in 99,9% of social recipe can go unnoticed…
[Enters Chef Rø. Monologue:
“There is only one work of art, the most abstract of all abstractions, and the most powerful too: Money. All the rest is just cannon fodder. Sadly, we are not all artists. Jobs for the Beuys! We have been laughing at serious things and we even dare to demonstrate in front of the Parliament, in our clean neo-punk attires, complaining for having been raped… By ourselves! Also Midas has been swallowed by his own vanity, did you know?, chocking in the vacuity of that innocuous gesture that turned everything into pieces of illusory value…”.
But nobody is listening to him anymore.]
Golden rain is now falling down in the audience, each and every spectator looking at the stage waiting for someone to say “The End”; they refuse to play the fool by clapping in the wrong cue. They refuse to be an audience, so to speak. All the abundant twink’le twink’le little shows that happen everywhere today can be reduced to that moment of foolish indecision, to that redundancy that never ends. That the only art genre that exists is the artistic genre. A very tiny one: Finger Food! We need our fingers to eat, even when we are just eating metaphors, or using our tongue only for speaking. Fade Out. Enters THE AUTHOR, drawing a stage diagonal upon SUCKCESS, ultimately abandoning the stage by the left low, his two middle fingers wagging at the same time. Crying out:
— Father, forgive them, for they DO know what they do…
(a choir sings, innocently: tonight’s a hole-y night, sleep in heavenly piss…)