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21 AUG 2013

published in: Drama

Mokhallad Rasem (Photo: Franziska Krug / Getty Images)
The Jury, consisting of Dr. Helga Rabl-Stadler (President of the Salzburg Festival), Thaddaeus Ropac (Galerie Ropac), Brigitte Hobmeier (Actress), Ulrich Khuon (Artistic Director) and Michael Köhlmeier (Author) awards the MONTBLANC YOUNG DIRECTORS AWARD 2013 for the best director to Mokhallad Rasem.

Jury Statement:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen! 

The animals and the children in the streets – they are conjured up on stage by Suzanne Andrade and her team, and this is accomplished with a lightness of touch concealing the great amount of work behind it entirely. We marvel at the perfection with which comic strips, video and pantomime mesh. The poetry of the text leads us into a cosily scary world reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, where we also encounter the strangest figures. Should we laugh at them, should we fear them? The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, directed by Suzanne Andrade.

How much Jedermann can Salzburg bear? Bastian Kraft has subjected this very symbol of theatrical respectability to a crash test. What remains after religion has been rocked out of the life and death of the rich man? Philipp Hochmair takes on the challenge of playing every role in the piece; the musician Simonne Jones plays electric guitar and Death. Jedermann is an old chestnut? Not this one! Death knows all the disguises, knows every piece of farewell music, every word of goodbye, be it whispered, shouted, rapped or prayed. – Jedermann, put on stage by Bastian Kraft.

The fact that love and hatred not only coexist within a relationship, but can both be active within one movement, one glance, one word – that they even need each other, that the most powerful of all feelings are dependent on each other when two people want to survive in a world of horror – this is the insight the Iraqi-Belgian director Mokhallad Rasem tries to introduce us to. He calls his piece Romeo and Juliet. Not that we understood the title immediately – but then not everything that is “immediately apparent” is satisfying. The play tells that part of the story which Shakespeare avoided. We think that shows remarkable ambition! 

During the Seventies of the past century, Luis Buñuel and his film turned all familiar habits of seeing and thinking on their head within less than one hundred minutes. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is nothing but anarchy. We are allowed, encouraged, even required to laugh about everything – about the transformation of a bourgeois citizen into a dangerous and ugly Quasimodo, and also about automatic shootings, revivals and repeated shootings, until both the victim and perpetrator are exhausted. Jan Mikulásek has made the classic film the model for his critique of the political situation in his homeland, the Czech Republic, and other Eastern European countries. And he has heeded the Surrealist recommendation of using humour as a weapon. And laughter turns into horror.

Sometimes we read a book or listen to a piece of music, look at a painting or watch a play, and suddenly we feel the gaze of the author, the composer, the painter, the director fall directly upon us – and let me correct that: fall directly upon me. Not on the person next to me. On me. Those are magical moments. That is what only art can accomplish. Afterwards, we say: the work “touched” us. We are embarrassed and use this phrase to render the pain we have suffered harmless.

The piece the jury has chosen contains such moments. It hurts us to suddenly recognise that of all people, we love that person most whom we also hate the most. We want to cry and rejoice. And are – touched.

The Jury advocates awarding the prize of the Young Directors Project to Mokhallad Rasem for his piece Romeo and Juliet.


Michael Köhlmeier for the Jury.


The MONTBLANC YOUNG DIRECTORS AWARD carries a cash value of € 10,000 and also includes the Montblanc Mozart Pen, exclusively designed for this occasion.