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The New Drama Programme 2014 – Presented by Sven-Eric Bechtolf

6 NOV 2013

published in: Drama, General

Sven-Eric Bechtolf
Dear Audience,

We are delighted to present the 2014 theatre programme, which on this occasion is devoted almost entirely to a single subject: precisely one hundred years ago Europe threw itself into a war which is now regarded as the primary catastrophe of recent history. In the summer months of 1914, ostensibly triggered by the murder of the Austrian heir to the throne and his wife in Sarajevo on 28th June, an apparently irresistible dynamic of events unfolded, with Germany’s ‘blank cheque’ given to Austria on 6th July, Austria’s declaration of war on Serbia on 28th July, the German declaration of war on Russia on 1st August, on France on 3rd August and which finally became irrevocable with England’s declaration of war on Germany on 4th August 1914. In precisely the days when we shall be celebrating the festival together in Salzburg, the fate of Europe and of the world was decided in most dramatic fashion one hundred years previously. The causes of this war remain the subject of contentious discussion to this day, but its consequences are indisputable and their effects are still felt today. Not just for the sake of the millions of dead, the new borders and balances of power, not simply for economic and political reasons, not only because Nazism and the Second World War would have been unthinkable without the First, but also because our traumatized collective and individual consciousness and notion of ourselves underwent or suffered a complete and radical transformation, which shapes our own destinies to this day.

Those who initiated the Salzburg Festival in 1920, two years after the end of the war, regarded their actions as ‘work for peace’. Only a few years later they were forced to experience that their efforts had been in vain. It is only natural that we feel a duty to concern ourselves in our programme for 2014 with those events which led to the foundation of the festival.

We begin with The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus.

‘The most improbable deeds reported here really happened: I have simply depicted what they did. The most improbable conversations had here were spoken word for word: the most lurid inventions are direct quotations’, Kraus writes in the introduction to this work, one which he himself regarded not only for practical, theatrical and logistical reasons as unperformable and which he therefore dedicated to a theatre on Mars. Matthias Hartmann and the company of the Vienna Burgtheater will build this theatre on Mars on the stage of the Landestheater in co-production with the Festival.

While Karl Kraus revealed the demons of his age caustically and analytically through the means of satire, Gustav Meyrink looked into the depths of the souls of his contemporaries through his imagination. His novel The Golem first appeared in serial form in 1913–14. In volume form it became one of the first bestsellers in the history of the book trade. In Meyrink’s version, the ancient Jewish saga of an artificial creature made of clay who has no soul becomes a nightmarish parable of the inescapably heteronomous nature of human existence. The British theatre company 1927, with director Suzanne Andrade and the award-winning animator and designer Paul Barritt, which attracted considerable attention in last year’s YDP, will bring the Golem to life on the Landestheater stage. This production is coproduced by the Festival together with 1927, the Young Vic in London and the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris.

In the first production at the Perner Insel English director Katie Mitchell will present her production The Forbidden Zone inspired, amongst other works, by the book of the same name by Mary Borden. Borden was an American who worked as a nurse for the French Red Cross at the beginning of the war. She subsequently ran her own field hospital on the Western Front. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her services and named a chevalier of the French legion of honour. In The Forbidden Zone she investigates her experiences in literary form and reveals herself to be a great writer. Katie Mitchell, renowned for her virtuoso combination of film- and theatre-making, will create a new work of fiction with the playwright Duncan Macmillan using this material as a starting point and linking it to other events of the war including the sinking of the Lusitania.

Also to be seen on the Perner Insel will be Ödon von Horváth’s Don Juan Comes Back From the War in a new production directed by Andreas Kriegenburg. Horváth, who had been banned from being performed in Germany since 1933, reworked Mozart/Da Ponte twice in the years between 1934 und 1936. The results were Figaro’s Divorce and this, his Don Juan. Mozart’s lively seducer and heartbreaker is sick at heart in Horváth’s play, rising pale and ghostly from the dead to search for a lost love in a world of hyper-inflation and post-war chaos. There’s no summer in Seville waiting for him, no Donna Anna, no Commander. Horváth’s Don Giovanni is the stone guest himself and the object of his inexhaustible longing is no longer every woman but a dead one.

In the YDP, the Young Directors Project generously sponsored by Montblanc, we present Ernst Toller’s expressionist masterpiece Hinkemann directed by the young Serbian director Miloš Lolić in a co-production with the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus.

The Salzburg writer Walter Kappacher has written a play for the Salzburg Festival about the Salzburg writer Georg Trakl. It is called The Parting and will receive its world premiere within the YDP directed by Nicolas Charaux.

Little Bulb Theatre from London, directed by Alexander Scott, can be seen with a humorous Orpheus who bears a striking resemblance to Django Reinhardt. And in a co-production with the Mozarteum University, students of acting, design and directing will investigate Salzburg in the period between 1914 and 1918 under the mentorship of Hans-Werner Kroesinger. Their working title is: 36,566 Days.

Accompanying readings on the subject of the First World War will also form part of our programme. The concert department will also enrich this main theme with a series of events – and we shall of course also perform our new Jedermann in the Cathedral Square with the same cast as last year.

In the following pages you will be able to learn more about each individual production and may note that while all the productions are concerned with a dark theme, they are also projects which encourage thought and feeling, which are passionate expressions both of the occasion they commemorate AND theatre itself.

We hope that reading these pages will stimulate your curiosity and that we shall be able to welcome you to Salzburg! We look forward to having you with us!

Warmest regards

Sven-Eric Bechtolf

(Translated by David Tushingham)