“The end of health”: a look at medicine between humor, delirium and the apocalypse
“You want to know, like everyone else, why you have cancer. I have rehearsed various explanations. But listen to this, which is the one I like the most. You have cancer simply because nature is clumsy (…). Who are we going to claim? nature sucks”, writes the Argentine playwright, actor and theater director with humor Raphael Sprefelburd in his delirious work the end of health.
Edited by IndieLibros, this hilarious piece is part, along with the end of art Y the end of the storyfrom the trilogy the end of europe. These three works, premiered in France, Belgium and Italy in 2017, are set in an area that the author calls “pseudo-apocalyptic”, and somehow they anticipated the catastrophe that would come to their business a few years later when, at the beginning of the pandemic, theaters had to close and the idea of performances without an audience designed for digital consumption began to be considered.
“How do I write a play, which would be released in a year, if I am not clear about which humanity I am going to be speaking to? Will we come out dumber or stronger? What things can we laugh at, and what not?”, he asked in an interview with Infobae Let’s read at the time of its publication in 2020. “Naturally, at first I doubted whether I should write virtual plays: these kinds of ‘pseudo-theatrical’ experiences. I refused quite a bit, actually… fifteen days, ”she confessed with a laugh.
In the end of healththe renowned playwright, who acted in films such as Zama Y The man next doortakes to the extreme the chilling idea of medicine as despair, as business, as delirium, as well as that of the “end” as a linguistic mechanism of domination and power.
Lucy walks into Dr. Castelli’s luxurious office in a Swiss clinic. Castelli greets her with great kindness and distant propriety, all the while struggling to close some unfinished business on her iPhone 7.
Castelli: Come in please.
Lucy: Thank you.
Castelli: Get comfortable.
Lucy: On the stretcher?
Castelli: Who is the patient here?
Castelli: Do you want me to put myself on the stretcher, do you want to check me out?
Lucy: Forgiveness. It’s just that since I came alone to bring this x-ray, I don’t want to…
Castelli: Of course, he doesn’t want to stain the paper with which we covered the stretcher, the oversized tissue with which we erased the patient’s remains from five seconds ago. Don’t worry. It is all included in the prepaid price. You can dump all kinds of fluids on the stretcher. Nothing happens.
Lucy: Sorry, sure.
He sits on the stretcher. She waits. Castelli continues to answer something on his phone. He suddenly puts it away violently and watches her, bewildered.
Lucy: Bad news?
Castelli: No. Not anymore. Ready. Fine. I am doctor Théo Castelli and I will be attending you today. This is my document. With my photo. (Shows it to him.)
Lucy: Thanks. Well, you don’t have to, I believe you.
Castelli: I think that it is necessary. Because now I’m going to have to ask for her identification and it seems like an abuse of authority to ask her for hers without offering her mine in exchange.
Lucy: I understand. No problem. (He gives her his document.)
Castelli: Oh. She is foreign.
Castelli: He is Belgian.
Lucy: Yes. Well, actually I’m…
Castelli: But he lives in Belgium. I’m not interested in his personal motives. She chose to live there, I don’t care where she’s from. I’m not going to mess with that. Do you like our country?
Castelli: I dont know. It depends. Let’s start with this canton where we are now. I am from this canton. Do you like this canton?
Lucy: If it is very beautiful. Is very turistic. Well, the truth is that I still couldn’t see almost anything, I was going to go to the lake, but this stupid thing happened with the bike and…
Castelli: Does the lake seem silly to you?
Lucy: No, that I had this silly accident and still couldn’t see anything.
Castelli: AHA. Belgium is flat.
Castelli: And what about Switzerland? Dumb? hilly? A danger?
Lucy: You want me to say?
Castelli: Nothing. I am a doctor, it is not my thing to imagine anything, I base myself on real information, temperature, pressure, history. You are for me a source of real information. He gets on a bike because he lives in a country that is flat as a pancake and suddenly realizes that there are other realities. Welcome.
Lucy: Well. Thanks.
Castelli: Do you have a health card in Belgium?
Castelli: Would you give it to me?
Lucy: Of course. Here it is.
Castelli: Thanks. Do you want me to show you mine?
Lucy: No, it’s not necessary.
Castelli: Well. He prefers to save that part. No problem. Does the camera bother you?
Lucy: What camera?
Castelli: It is for excellence. We monitor and record that our care meets the highest standards of excellence. But if it bothers you or if you think we’re going to upload videos of your exam to YouPorn, I turn it off. No problem.
Castelli: It is a joke. Clear.
Castelli: But he didn’t get it. She didn’t laugh. Or he didn’t want to.
Castelli: If that?
Lucy: No, there is no problem with the camera. I came anyway to leave the knee X-ray.
Castelli: Do you want to leave me things? Do you want me to keep things that you no longer know where to keep?
Lucy: No. It’s for me to see… They sent me from…
Castelli: I know where they sent it from. I have all the history here. How was the waiting time?
Lucy: That waits? He was very fast.
Castelli: It is excellence. Can I have your laugh card, please?
Castelli: Your laugh card, please?
Lucy: Ah, that’s another Swiss joke.
Castelli (Very serious.): Not.
Castelli: Does not have it?
Lucy: I do not know what it is.
Castelli: Isn’t it compulsory in Belgium?
Lucy: I just don’t know what it is.
Castelli: Fine. (He dials a number on his intercom.) Vanna. (…) We have a foreigner. (…) Yes, totally flat. (To Lucy.) Please excuse our rudeness, you Belgians do not have to know Swiss law. Does it seem intricate?
Lucy: I don’t know, I don’t know her.
Castelli: AHA. But still she risks riding her bike down a ledge sharper than a knife.
Lucy: Well actually it was silly, I fell on a perfectly flat area.
Castelli: Don’t joke. Here we do not have flat areas. We are not like you.
The video is self-evident. It is about a selection of the moments he lowers a movie screen and activates a video by remote control.
The video is self-evident. This is a selection of highlights from a speech by Johann Schneider-Ammann, President of the Swiss Confederation, as can be found on YouTube and elsewhere. It is a greeting to the sick and the healthy and to each other on Health Day.
♦ Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1970.
♦ He is a playwright, actor and theater director.
♦ He is the author of bizarre, Stateless Y Spamamong other works, and performed in The man next door, Cornelia in front of the mirror, Zama Y The criticAmong other films.
♦ Received the Casa de las Américas (Cuba), Tirso de Molina (Spain) and the National Award (Argentina) awards. In 2014 she won the Platinum Konex Award.