April 23, 2014
Linda Peretz: 14 years a wife
Stage production of No seré feliz... graces local marquees againIt’s been probably 14 years since actress Linda Peretz first heard the question: “How do you relate, personally, with this very intimate text?”
The piece in question was Viviana Gómez Thorpe’s bestselling book No seré feliz pero tengo marido, which Perez devoured and found so piquant and acidly humorous that she decided to bring it to the stage in a version starring herself as Gómez Thorpe’s alter ego, Viviana, who narrates her married life’s tribulations from a woman’s perspective without alienating male audiences.
“I can identify with many of the issues Gómez Thorpe deals with in her book, such as the joys and happiness of a couple deciding to share their lives and look ahead to the future, however uncertain this future may seem in today’s volatile world,” Peretz muses today over a glass of mineral water.
Directed by Manuel González Gil, the stage production of No seré feliz pero tengo marido was as successful as the book itself, which continues to see reprints to this day, because new generations of women continue to identify with the author’s plight and the comely, graceful manner in which she handles them.
HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE. Peretz’s stage version went on several tours of Argentina and played all over Latin America and Spain with equal success, albeith with slightly different reactions.
“Take Spain, for example,” Peretz says by way of example. “While Madrid’s was a highly receptive, warm public, it was in Barcelona where No seré feliz... had a bigger resonance with audiences. May be it’s because Catalonians, in general, have more cultural affinities with Argentines,” she muses.
And what about Mexico, widely regarded as the bastion of male chauvinism?
“I found no problem with Mexican audiences,” says Peretz, recalling the Mexican leg of her international tour with No seré feliz..., which touches on sensitive marital issues head-on.
“Perhaps the audience was already prepared for what they were going to see, may be they were already fully aware of the play’s mordant take on married life, the female’s woes and complaints about marriage as a sacred, male-driven institution, even if we all know that, contrary to general perception, it’s almost always women who take the lead.”
OPENING NIGHT. The year 2014 marks No seré feliz...’s 14th anniversary with uninterrupted performances here and abroad, making it one of the longest running shows on local marquees as well as a milestone on the international scene.
But Peretz, a seasoned performer who comes on stage every night as though it were always opening night, is nonchalant about it and not afraid of repetition. “It’s a different experience every night,” she assures, adding that new audiences expect new things from the show and add a new perspective to it. “Although many modifications were introduced in the course of time and after so many seasons, the essence of my character, Vivi, remains very much intact. I feel great respect for the text,” she assures.
Are there repeat audiences, or is it newcomers every evening? This one Peretz is quick to tackle: “There’s a high turnover and there are repeat audiences as well, because, as years go by, and it’s been a long ride at that, people change, as do the social situation and human relations.”
And what about generational change? Has the play been so rewarding that audiences pass it down to younger generations to rejoice over the same jocular take on domestic affairs?
“The speed at which society has been changing is astounding, but the problems at the core of human nature and human relations remain mostly the same, save for surface variations, such as the technological developments that change the modes of acting and interacting with your partner,” Peretz said.
Technological advance, indeed, must have been among the very few things that needed updating in Gómez Thorpe’s text.
When Peretz, who does an engaging soliloquy as Vivi (Gómez Thorpe herself, after all, for the book is based on her own experience of married life) addresses a very young couple in the audience, she jokingly asks if, as in the show’s previous scene, they will communicate via SMS, email, tweets, whatsapp messages, all of which contribute but also hinder the nature of today’s spousal relations, and also the way individuals interact in an increasingly alienated and alienating world.
It’s not an ingenious, candid question. This must have been Peretz’s coinage, the scene about a man sneaking into the bathroom to text a lover or a flirt.
“Although it’s mostly women coming to the show and bringing their spouses along, men have a very positive reaction, very lovely, in many cases. They will tell me their name and some will even recite love poems,” she enthuses.
Although Peretz is a very private person and likes to keep a very low media profile, she will agree, without going into specifics, that, “I am an actress, and people should remember that this is an actress playing a character, Vivi, and not Linda Peretz, the woman, wearing her heart out on a sleeve, as though she were in a confessional mood.”