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Immer noch Sturm (Still Storm)en

'The Jaunfeld district, Carinthia, southern Austria: A man's ancestors gather around him (or is he actually hovering on the fringes?): his grandparents and their children, his own mother among them. They follow him into his dreams, appearing to him in various sequences of scenes that feature the most diverse forms of performance and speech – a panorama that reaches out far beyond all literary genres at the same time as it appropriates them. Is Peter Handke composing an exemplary family tragedy in scenes? (After all, two of the brothers died in the 1940s.) Is he using these individual episodes to relate the epic story of a whole people, the Slovenes? (They were the only group to put up armed resistance to the National Socialist regime within its original borders.) Is he sketching out the historical drama of eternal losers (who once thought history was on their side and yet achieved nothing)? Or is he taking this dramatic narrative as an opportunity to look back at his own biography, the conditions that have shaped it and its consequences? Prose and drama, the theatrical and the poetic, the historical and the personal intermingle in the new text by Peter Handke. It is therefore questionable at the end whether the mother's surviving brother really does have the last word: "There is still a storm blowing. A permanent storm. Still storm. Yes, we have done wrong – the wrong of being born here, especially here."'
(Suhrkamp Verlag, Theater und Medien)

Responses to the play:

'A great song to life: the new play by Peter Handke is a trip between times, dreams and worlds. Handke leads us from the Europe of the last century into the contemporary world. He remembers the history of his Slovenian forebears. Inspired by letters passed down in his family, oral accounts and the images he recalls himself, he follows the tracks of his memory: "It is not me who will not leave you in peace. It will not leave me in peace, not in peace. You will not leave me in peace." The play features a family of Slovenian tenant farmers from Carinthia. During the National Socialist period, they found themselves threatened by the ban on the Slovenian language and the policy of resettling minorities, and got involved in the resistance. Once the war was over, after brief weeks enjoying the freedom for which they had struggled, they felt displaced and ostracised once again. Reminiscing, the narrator summons up his ancestors, describing this scenario like an old black-and-white photograph into which he paints himself, a photograph that gradually comes to life. The central figure, the author as an old man, the dreaming narrator, sees himself growing up as a child. He sees himself sleeping in the nest of roots at the bottom of an apple tree, and as a young man who emerges from his mother's shadow, determined to take charge of his own life. He invents playfully comic figures who argue with one another, who express delight or sadness, and he meets up with his grandparents, aunts and uncles. The narrator himself becomes a guest of this remembered community, which takes him home to the locus of his childhood. He is no longer a stranger now.
(Thalia Theater, Hamburg)

'When Handke sends his Slovenian ancestors travelling through the past century, beginning in 1936, when he leads them out of his memory into this (self-)construction, his text always remains light, almost floating. When Handke describes things, it is above all a quest, for language, for memory, for possibilities, for, yes, truths. And for the protagonists of his own family history in the storm of political events, in which they found themselves caught up between resistance and conformity. It is a complex drama of dreams and traumas that Handke has written.'
(Hartmut Krug, in: Nachtkritik, 12 August 2011)

'Still Storm: a black mass, a raising of spirits, once again. His texts always call the audience into the echo chamber of history, and what they mark out are maps of the disappeared, maps that relentlessly cast their shadows on the here and now. In Handke's work, the tragic, the theatrically dramatic is always embedded in the shadows thrown by the past, especially in this play.'
(Dirk Pilz, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, 15 August 2011)

'A bizarre idea to have his own ancestors step forward in a kind of raising of spirits. Summoned up by a narrator, they nevertheless retain their own reality – in a journey through time that does not just proceed in a linear fashion, that functions in loops, discontinuities and complex palimpsests of different chronological levels: political and natural time, the time of landscapes. In its filigree hermetics, in its dramatic form, it is unparalleled.'
(Thomas Oberender, interview with the literary critic Hans Höller, 2011 Salzburg Festival programme, p. 46)

Technical Details:

Premiere 12 August 2011, Salzburger Festspiele (Pernerinsel)
Director Dimiter Gotscheff
Cast variabel
Rights Suhrkamp, Theater und Medien
Translations Theatre Library


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