Who are some underrated contemporary writers

Contemporary playwrights : The underrated

When the BE boss Claus Peymann noticed a few years ago that the stages are all about problems “the authors have with their grandmother or their dad or their dick”, many colleagues in the industry nodded eagerly. Peymann is not the only one who constantly sees privatistic relationship boxes in the theater. De facto there is the complaint that new plays are lacking in “cosmopolitanism”, similar permanent boom as the funny accusation of “modern director's theater” that it just puts constantly roaring naked people on the stage. Especially among people who don't go there that often (anymore).

However, there seems to be at least one instance where the dramatic symptoms of the crisis persistently pass: the jury of the Mülheimer Theatertage, the contemporary dramatic equivalent of the Berlin Theatertreffen. The 41st edition of the festival is currently running in the Ruhrstadt, at the end of which the renowned Mülheim Dramatist Prize will be awarded. The selection jury reads or looks through all of the hundred or so pieces that are premiered each season in Germany, Austria and Switzerland - excluding novel and film adaptations. The seven to eight most remarkable of a year then come to the festival.

I've been a member of this jury for three years and I wonder where people actually see all these relationship boxes that they moan about in unison. Personally, in view of the current dramatic heavyweight situation, I would not have any objection to occasional relaxation escapism in the boy-meets-girl (or boy) genre. But: No dick, nowhere in the premiere list! The Mülheim jury could have curated at least three festivals on the refugee issue this year, last year on the NSU and the penultimate one on the criticism of real capitalism.

The authors and schools of thought have become younger

In each case from a purely quantitative point of view, of course. It is undisputed that by far not everyone achieves the quality of an Elfriede Jelinek, a René Pollesch, a Wolfram Lotz or an Ewald Palmetshofer. In this regard, the 2010s are likely to differ only marginally from the 1960s. Back then, not everyone who wrote was a Peter Weiss, a Rolf Hochhuth or an Edward Albee - to stick with the authors who, for example, Peter Stoltzenberg, former chief dramaturge of the Free Volksbühne Berlin and ex-director in Bremen and Heidelberg, recently ( Tagesspiegel from March 6) declared the last triad before the dramatic collapse in relevance.

At one point times have indeed changed. In contrast to today's authors, it is often said, the canonical dramatists used philosophical glasses: no Molière without Descartes, no Schiller without Kant, no Brecht without Marx. And that dramatic Marxism has not been seen on a stage for a long time is indeed correct. For not only the authors have naturally become younger since Brecht, but also the schools of thought to which they refer.

Rebekka Kricheldorf's social satires pose the question “what is it worth living for” with the theoretical fitness of the contemporary philosopher Robert Pfaller. Heinz Bude's “Society of Fear” is deeply rooted in the self-realization zombies who slip grandly on their own punchlines in Felicia Zeller's play “Second General Uncertainty”. René Pollesch's great dramatic changes in perspective are unthinkable without the post-structuralists - without Foucault, Derrida, Lacan or Judith Butler - anyway. And those who immerse themselves in the lucid folk pieces by Ferdinand Schmalz will be given in passing how the Italian contemporary thinker Giorgio Agamben relates to Hegel's dialectic and the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger.

Old-fashioned wisdom does not have to well up out of every pore

Thankfully - and in turn today's generation of authors is not so dissimilar to the entertainment fan Brecht - the intellectual-historical fitness does not well out of every text pore precociously. There should certainly be one or the other audience who does not immediately read the call for the socialization of the means of production from the “Threepenny Opera”.

It is only a matter of copying reality instead of condensing, is the main reproach older theater people make of contemporary drama: Instead of the symbol, the image dominates. The playwright Wolfram Lotz contradicts this thesis not only in every sentence of his clever play "The ridiculous darkness", but also in his "speech on the impossible theater". It says: “When we write, we do not just copy the world (how should that work at all), but we draft proposals, changes, demands in that we do not see the world as it is, but how it is for us is, and how it could be if we were left, or how it would not be, never. "

Incidentally, Lotz had a terrific world premiere director for “Die ridiculous darkness” in Dušan David Parízek at the Vienna Akademietheater. The production also ran at the Berlin Theatertreffen last year and was voted “Production of the Year” by the critics of the specialist magazine “Theater heute”. But at least as often as directors allow texts to outgrow themselves on stage, it naturally also happens that they sink them beyond recognition. After all, there are directors who are just as capable and incompetent in their field as there are authors or critics.

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