Ewald Palmetshofer

tier. man wird doch bitte unterschicht
(‘animal. let us say underclass’)

A place on the periphery, somewhere. Erika goes to lend a hand caring for the old headmaster now and then. His son lives in the city and cannot look after the father. It is Erika who does this. At the weekend, she finds casual work as a waitress. So she gets by one way or another. When the son drops in one day to make sure everything is alright, in the country, which is slowly dying, it becomes evident the three were once very close to each other many years before. Since then, however, the old man has settled into his yearning for death, while the young man has made a home for himself in his city. Only Erika is still seeking the warmth that makes the human in her start to melt, so the words come, the words that tell stories. Because animals do not talk.
(Ewald Palmetshofer)
Responses to the play:
'The question of how much animal there is in a human or how much human in an animal ceases to be relevant at the latest once the only human in the play has become an animal. However, we do not have to trust the author here. For one of the most reliable differences between humans and animals is Ewald Palmetshofer's original key: language. […]
The other keys to this work are sound and rhythm. For Palmetshofer has framed his village horror trip in a highly musical language: a tremendously varied, iambically founded ringing and singing; a patterned soundscape that has to be spoken out loud if you are to discern its insidious background elements. It blends a balladesque tone, the gruesomeness of the murder ballad, Wilhelm Busch and German folk song, Schiller, Fontane and the classic poetry of the German schoolroom, recited by six voices that skip from one register to another: a melodiously burbling harmony of horror, which is capable of surging up into ancient tragedy in massed choral passages. Almost unbelievable what has become of the good old social issues play in an age when it seems a lost cause.'
(Franz Wille, Theater Heute, October 2010)


'After his successful versions of Faust and Hamlet, Palmetshofer could have become a specialist at transplanting great men into a new era, Parsifal or Jesus for instance. Instead, his latest play sees him moving to the provinces and the narrow confines of petit bourgeois life. Secrets and places of refuge play a role, bashful talk and false rumours. The pub is a den where people can gossip, whisper with one another or mumble into their drinks. Sentences break off, attempts to articulate ideas remain attempts, it is only as they chime together that they meld into the common speech in which the everyday life of a village plays out, an everyday life characterised more by disintegration than the routines of rural life. Palmetshofer's latest play is a peripheral drama. As if the photographer's hand slipped just as the shutter was opening, it shifts the focus onto something that is supposed to remain covered up and unseen in the self-image of the villages' residents. And so his language constantly moves along the margins, always close to becoming incomprehensible or falling silent. Yet it does not lose its way. On the contrary, it teeters on the furthest edges of the comprehensible. The artificial dialect, which only pretends to be an Austrian regional variant, the elliptical utterances and the abbreviated phrases create distance between the audience and the characters.'
(Julia Weinrich/Martin Heckmanns, in: Jahrbuch Theater Heute, 2010)

Technical Details:
Premiere 11.09.2010, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
Director Simone Blattner
Cast 3 women, 4 men
Rights Fischer, Theater und Medien
Translations Theaterbibliothek