1993. Paris woke up on a cold winter morning and saw the Luxor obelisk covered by a giant pink condom. The installation, coming from Oliviero Toscani and several associations who stood against AIDS, came just after the first cure to the pandemic that made the whole world shake, despite the belief the virus only hit the gay community.
Revealing to have AIDS formally implied a coming out. The fact that the illness, unlike humankind, made no difference between straight and not didn’t matter at all. Many positives choose not to talk: a paradox to be forced to do so, in an era when people accept deaths for drugs, but not for sex and love.
Silence and paradox: it takes two words to describe the deadly rise of AIDS. The word is soon made flesh. France, where the fire of the greatest European revolution created the Enlightenment, raises with both its rebel spirit and its poetic language two one-of-a-kind thinkers: Jean-Luc Lagarce and Copi. Both will fall victim to AIDS, still after writing down on paper these whole absurd years.
Lagarce, just before finding out to be seropositive, foresees his fate in his greatest work: Juste la fin du monde, meaning It’s Only the End of the World, whose movie version was shot by Xavier Dolan. A boy affected by AIDS comes back after many years to his family, to announce he is about to die. The atmosphere is burdened with tense or broken relations, expressed through nuances switching from a conventional sense of parenthood to the most trivial rage. The main character remains silent, waiting for the right moment to confess his secret.
Copi chooses to talk about the noise instead, the chaos of those years, through lysergic trips in which mice have sex with men and women. The unsettling rattles of Beckett and Pinter are perfectly noticeable: in L’homosexuel ou la difficulté de s’exprimer characters, whose sex remains uncertain, live in a house in Siberia surrounded by hungry wolves, hoping without a chance to escape to some unexisting place.
Two authors who narrated their era and conditions, both with naturalism and surrealism. So, this is the fourth weekly challenge for the Carlo Annoni Prize’s participants: can playwriting talk about the present days in a creative and original manner?