Nuovo teatro tedesco - Stagione 2011/2012

Die Schutzbefohlenen (i.e. The Suppliants)en

In January 2013, 60 asylum seekers occupied a Viennese church to draw attention to their plight. Most of them were threatened with death if deported to their native lands. Many were then deported from Austria in the following summer. A few weeks later, hundreds of asylum seekers from Africa drowned off the coast of Lampedusa trying to reach Europe.

The Austrian Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek wrote Die Schutzbefohlenen in the early summer of 2013 as a direct response to the events in Vienna. In a biting polemic, she attacked the inhuman asylum policy of the affluent European countries such as Austria, where some refugees are naturalized immediately while others, whose lives are endangered, are mistreated and deported. She interlocks the events in Vienna, the disasters on the external borders of the EU, their causes and consequences with motifs from Aeschylus’ tragedy The Suppliants and lends a polyphonic voice and an analytical perspective to the stories of the asylum seekers. The people seeking help against deportation, the tragedy off Lampedusa, demonstrate the cynicism and bigotry of Europe in treating human rights, which are never valid for everyone but only for those who can afford to participate in Europe.
(Thalia Theater, Hamburg)

Comments on the play:

[…] the text [is] a great challenge. Elfriede Jelinek has packed anger at a Europe that rejects refugees and despair at their hopeless situation into a text that links motifs from an ancient tragedy with images of asylum seekers today. The drowned of Lampedusa, the occupation of a church in Vienna, the eurocratic regulatory jungle and hypocritical rules for togetherness from a brochure entitled Living Together in Austria provide the text with plenty of realism.

This is good. But at the same it is an artificial and imagined text. It continually talks of “gangs”. What is hurled at someone who is not desired in Europe by those who think up the regulations to keep him or her out. And how the incoming immigrants, if they made this logic their own, could only work for their own deportation. This is the vast cynicism through which they must pass before they are shown fellow-feeling.
(Katrin Bettina Müller, taz, 27.05.2014)


In the autumn of 2013, 60 asylum seekers occupied a Viennese church; by the following summer most of them had been deported from Austria. A few weeks later, hundreds of asylum seekers from Somalia and Eritrea drowned off the coast of Lampedusa. The Italian authorities sent the survivors to northern Europe.

Die Schutzbefohlenen, the most recent theatre text of Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian Nobel Prize laureate in literature, is a response to these events. In the text she interlocks the current tragedy of the asylum seekers at the external borders of the EU, the occupation of the Viennese church, the disaster off Lampedusa and their causes and consequences with motifs from Aeschylus’ tragedy The Suppliants, lending a voice to the stories of the asylum seekers. ‘Please help us. We have set our foot on your shores, but what is the next step?’
(Mannheim National Theatre)

Technical Data:

Premiere 23.05.2014, Theater der Welt, Nationaltheater Mannheim in Koproduktion mit dem Thalia Theater Hamburg
Director Nicolas Stemann
Cast variable
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