This is an essay by one of the most important playwrights of the so-called Postdramatic Theatre. I liked it, so I translated it. lil

    Who knows the world well enough to depict it? I sure don't. You also don't; maybe you think you do, but you don't. It always shows you just one face. So why should the theater try to depict it, the theater, which doesn't know anything, which just tries to create with what the audience think they know? They want to fill their wakefulness with something they can see, just so they don't have to sleep yet, they want to be entertained! (Supposedly the one deadly sin of the theater: boring the audience.) But if you enter the entertainment, you won't find anyone. If you think you've found the entryway, it'll lock before your eyes. So maybe we need to release our wakefulness-- everything we know of ourselves and others. Then, exhausted from the day that was never a day, we're overpowered, no, overwhelmed by the being of others that don't exist and have never existed. Today we present Don Carlos, but we don't even have him. Awkward. Characters on the stage, whose speech has never existed– you asked for them, but they're not what you wanted. They get their speech from people like me, who also don't know anything– who sometimes, like in my case, know much less than the audience. Is this release a jump, up onto the stage, or is it a plunge into the grave? Does theater work when we leave everything behind, throw it all away, ourselves, and everything we see? When we stop trying to see anything? Reality, tightly bound to us, it can't hurt us, because we're on its back, and it's on ours, and we mostly don't like it, for just that reason: it's stuck to us, overpowers us, we can't get rid of it. It's drinking us out of a straw that we were trying to climb up. But maybe, since we can't get rid of it, we can throw it onto the stage before we're completely empty. Until the characters jump into the abyss, unable to take it, everything we expect--demand--from them. What do we demand? An image of reality? Every single theatergoer throws their reality, which they don't understand, at characters they know nothing about, because they can't know anything, because they don't want to know anything. Entertainment, that's what they want. But it's uninteresting to talk to themselves, they have no partners, only parts played by others. But that's no good partie with the actors. Sometimes they even get spit on, if they sit in the front and the actors get into it.

    Theater should be a kind of refusal. That can't be so difficult, if we recognize that no one knows anything, but everyone believes they know something. Why not hold everything back (leave it behind, with a tired wave of the hand, everything goes, yes, anything goes. Everything is possible, just like the lottery ads: "break through class barriers with a new fortune, one that's not yours, but it could be, if you just bought it, and if you don't buy it, you've just got your old stale hard one")? Why not a theater of restraint, where strangers speak strange text to strangers, from other mouths, also strange, but which know what someone else said? Strange text, one time sometime familiar to someone, who felt at home with it? Everything's been said. Why should the theater depict something we all think we recognize, but none of us know? Who understands their own life? It's all indecipherable, most of all our own lives, who can explain it, where's the tutor? The theater won't do it, it's not paid enough. If the audience create from nothing, which they also doesn't understand, because it's bottomless, and no flashlight reaches its ground, why should the theater create from life, a life that no one's ever seen, and if someone had seen it, they wouldn't understand it? And even the theater's refusal to represent reality, yes, this refusal is nothing new, but also the refusal to show anything, to house anything, no, to give something out, no, to hand something over that no one knows, this refusal is no austerity (we invite people into the theater and show them: nothing), it's precisely this jump into the abyss, a jump over the desire to see something, to be shown something, but that's not a jump into unconsciousness, no. We are perhaps unconscious when we're overpowered by the theater, when we forget that we're throwing away our own lives, which we don't recognize, giving our lives over to the characters while we're unconscious (which we are anyway, we just don't realize it, of course we don't, we are, after all, unconscious). We're unconscious, but we know that something's there, giving us to fake people, played by real people, denying our unconsciousness. We don't have control, we'd have to be conscious to have it, and if we were conscious we'd be in control and we wouldn't need the theater. We'd be ourselves, and we could finally make decisions. But this jump over the grave and onto the stage is unavoidable. Although we know nothing of ourselves--I've said it before, and it's still the truth--although we know nothing, we refuse the possibility of restraint, of not-doing; we want to fit as much life as possible in as little time as possible, because our property isn't ours forever, our lives certainly not. We can't avoid this jump. All exits are locked. Because we're unconscious, we don't notice that either, but even while unconscious, we know: we want control. Get back in control, at any price. Even through characters on stage, in control in our stead, just 'cos we allow it. That's our power. A small one, I think, but if you really want...

    Or better, we jump up on stage or we throw everything we don't know about ourselves, but think we know, up to those who also don't know anything, but who show us what we think we are, when we can't see our true being. (We've got to have one somewhere, but where, but where?) We just know that it exists. What's it like, that's what we want to know, not to imitate it, but to have one in the first place. Strangers' speech hastens ceaselessly towards it, can't and mustn't stop, then comes more speech, from someone else. No one knows anything, but they all speak, just like they will later, as if they knew something. And maybe our refusal would be even more babbling than all the words there could ever be. Onstage, feelings join fullness, fullness joins with feelings, we shove it into ourselves, but it never fits, because it plops from unknowing into unknowing, like a toad with a hole on top, pecked in by a crow that chewed out a little life, picky eater, it only takes parts that taste good, the liver, the eagle thought that was Prometheus' tastiest part, and there are so many toads, even we have to swallow them, again and again, what for? and eventually the toad bursts, after it blows itself up. Its life shoots through this little hole that the crow pecked out. Maybe that's how it is in the theater. Nobody knows anything, but out of this tiny, indiscernible hole, pecked out by a greedy animal that wanted our being, our restraint, everything that we did without wanting to, everything that nobody wants, even that which the unconscious call free will, clinging to it, although they can't hold on while they're unconscious, out of this hole, bored by an animal into another animal, something leaks out, a thin stream of hot steam, a watery flash amongst many strangers' speech, which we pretend is ours, and so much money, also not ours, but this thin hot stream, maybe that's it! It's so high-pressured, it can never join with the whole. We can't throw out the baby with the bathwater, we could never draw a whole bath with this tiny stream, we'd have to sit in the theater for years, uninterrupted, yes, maybe it's precisely this thin, hot stream. If the tub were full, it'd be too hot. Or too cold, because it took to long to draw, and we'd have preferred to stay at least as tall as we once were. And I can still say: it didn't come from me. It wasn't me. I don't know. I don't know anything.

Original here



posted by galen: 221 days ago