ST. PÖLTEN, Austria — The day after the 2016 election in the United States, the Nobel Prize-winning Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek began a play inspired by President Trump’s surprising victory. The result was “Am Königsweg” (“On the Royal Road”), a lengthy monologue about a tacky autocrat whose sordid path to leadership is narrated by a blind female seer.
Roughly a year later, “Am Königsweg” had its world premiere in Hamburg and has since been performed throughout Germany. (In early 2018, English-language excerpts were performed as a sneak preview at the City University of New York Graduate Center). It has taken somewhat longer for Ms. Jelinek’s play to reach her native country, where it is premiering this season at the Landestheater Niederösterreich in St. Pölten, outside Vienna.
Ms. Jelinek’s play is a screed of outrage at the political, economic and cultural forces that have brought us to an unprecedented — and for many, unimaginable — moment of crisis for modern democracy. Mr. Trump is never mentioned by name, but the narration sketches an undisciplined, uncouth monarch who has been propped up by obscene wealth, a nonstop media circus and a remarkable talent for self-aggrandizing. Draw your own conclusions.
Best known in the English-speaking world as the author of the 1983 novel “The Piano Teacher,” which inspired the 2001 film by Michael Haneke, Ms. Jelinek writes unconventionally for the stage. Her 2004 Nobel, which came as a surprise to many, was awarded “for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power,” according to the Swedish Academy’s statement.
Ms. Jelinek’s long monologues, which are both analytic and associative, pose challenges to directors. Nikolaus Habjan, this latest version’s director, populates his phantasmagorical production with an army of diseased- and degenerate-looking Muppet-like ventriloquist’s dummies. Portions of the text are divided among the puppets, which also include seemingly putrefied versions of Kermit the Frog, Gonzo and the two old hecklers Statler and Waldorf. With their deformed, blotchy skin, melting features and splotchy hair, they look as if they were left in a closet for several decades and eaten by moths.
“Am Königsweg” contains no conventional characters, unless you count the prophet narrator, variously represented as a blind Miss Piggy or the author herself. From the Oval Office set (designed by Jakob Brossmann) and the multiple Trump puppets — yes, they have tiny hands — down to the orange nail polish worn by the six energetic performers, the Austrian premiere makes Mr. Jelinek’s critique of the president very explicit.
And then there’s the text, outraged and funny, mixing Greek tragedy and Shakespeare with political, pop cultural and social media references. At two hours, this production uses roughly 30 percent of the full script, which has never been done live in its entirety. (A radio version on the German broadcaster BR runs to over four hours. )
Mr. Habjan, a talented puppeteer, does not himself perform in the production. In a program note, he describes “the wandering I,” a narrative voice and perspective that deftly shifts, sometimes in the course of a single sentence, and how puppetry is particularly suited to capturing this effect.
During a post-performance talk earlier this month, the actors (who double onstage as puppeteers) spoke of carving up a monologue into a dialogue among characters as both challenging and liberating. The actors cavort nimbly around the elaborate stage, effigies in hand, firing off the propulsive text wile dexterously operating the hideous puppets.
To attempt a summary of “Am Königsweg” would be impossible, and many audience members seemed thoroughly confused afterward by the lack of a straightforward narrative or dramatic arc. “Am Königsweg” is neither a polemic nor a historical dramatization but an of-the-moment allegory for our deeply troubling political, social and economic reality. Mr. Habjan’s disturbing production is a particularly effective showcase for this difficult but urgent material.
When it comes to controversial, politically minded and sexually frank writers, the Viennese dramatist Arthur Schnitzler is one of Ms. Jelinek’s most important predecessors. His 1912 play “Professor Bernhardi” jolted Viennese audiences with its frank, unsparing discussion of anti-Semitism in a society that viewed itself as sophisticated and enlightened. In it, a Jewish doctor refuses to allow a priest to administer the last rites to a woman dying of sepsis after an abortion, to spare her the knowledge that she is about to die. An ugly media campaign and trial follow, and the doctor is stripped of his post and his license to practice.
In “Doktor Alici” at the Münchner Kammerspiele, in Munich, Olga Bach presents a loose adaptation of “Professor Bernhardi” set in the not too distant future. The young, Berlin-born playwright swaps out the Jewish physician for a lesbian police chief of Turkish heritage, who is subjected to xenophobic slurs and struggles to keep her job after a right-wing conspirator dies in prison on her watch.
The dazzling staging by Ersan Mondtag, one of Germany’s rising young directors, situates us in a sinister Munich in 2023, where the rain rarely stops (umbrellas are a big prop element) and fluorescent lights and neon colors are the only respite from the penetrating darkness.
But as a contemporary reimagining of Schnitzler, “Doktor Alici” is only half successful. While the political maneuverings around Dr. Alici and the anti-Turkish prejudices they bring out are well dramatized, there is little sense of moral outrage. I’m not sure why pushing the story into the near future was necessary: The dystopian mood gets in the way of the present conflicts that the play examines, and Ms. Bach’s social critique is not as strong as Mr. Mondtag’s finely honed aesthetic. With its stark lighting, ghoulish makeup and cartoonish sets, the production looks great, but the conflicts that Ms. Bach dramatizes seem neither as ethically fraught nor as socially urgent as the ones that Schnitzler explored over a century ago.
While Ms. Bach’s political tenor seems off, she has produced a well-made play, and the Kammerspiele has cast it sensitively. Neither of which can be said for “Rojava,” a world premiere by the Kurdish-Viennese playwright Ibrahim Amir at the Volkstheater in Vienna. “Rojava” is about an idealistic student who sets off for the Kurdish self-governing region in northern Syria that the play is named after, to create a utopia alongside the local freedom fighters. There he finds danger, adventure, camaraderie and, yes, romance.
Mr. Amir’s first play, “Pleasure to Meet You,” done at a small theater in Vienna, won the prestigious Nestroy prize in 2013. “Rojava,” at one of the city’s main theaters, explodes onstage with a megadose of melodrama, kitsch and self-importance.
One bright spot is the Kurdish music, performed live by four musicians and co-written by Sandy Lopicic, the play’s talented director, who was given the impossible task of making Mr. Amir’s clunky and repetitive dialogue seem anything less than amateurish and inept. What with the awkward time leaps, the narrative gaps, the tiresome speechifying and a highly predictable love story, I wished I could have left at intermission.
Dramatizing current events in a compelling artistic way, without brimstone or treacle, is devilishly difficult. If Ms. Jelinek’s acerbic play has a whiff of Vienna’s storied bitterness and cynicism, Mr. Amir shows us the opposite side of the coin: sentimentality and schlock.B:
【一】【夜】【之】【间】，【风】【云】【骤】【变】。 【权】【倾】【天】【下】【的】【刘】【千】【岁】【到】【底】【没】【能】【千】【岁】【千】【千】【岁】，【倒】【在】【了】【他】【六】【十】【二】【岁】【这】【年】。 【不】【过】，【他】【家】【的】【银】【子】【倒】【真】【有】【千】【万】【千】【千】【万】【两】【之】【多】。 【不】【枉】【他】【素】【以】【王】【振】【为】【偶】【像】，【这】【祸】【国】【殃】【民】【的】【程】【度】【虽】【略】【逊】，【没】【把】【小】【皇】【帝】【折】【腾】【敌】【国】【去】，【贪】【墨】【程】【度】【却】【是】【远】【远】【超】【越】【偶】【像】【了】。 【当】【初】【王】【振】【被】【抄】【家】，【乃】【是】“【金】【银】【六】【十】【余】【库】，【玉】【盘】【百】，
“【丑】【八】【怪】，【老】【子】【就】【打】【你】【了】，【你】【来】【打】【我】【啊】，【你】【个】【没】【种】【的】【死】【肥】【狗】……” 【谷】【少】【宁】【嚣】【张】【之】【极】，【反】【正】【没】【人】【看】【见】，【他】【可】【以】【肆】【意】【羞】【辱】【这】【个】【丑】【八】【怪】，【只】【要】【一】【想】【到】【当】【初】【为】【了】【上】【位】，【和】【这】【丑】【八】【怪】【虚】【与】【委】【蛇】，【他】【就】【恶】【心】【得】【想】【吐】。 【肥】【妈】【强】【咽】【下】【恶】【气】，【这】【笔】【帐】【他】【记】【下】【了】，【以】【后】【再】【报】【仇】，【他】【想】【赶】【紧】【离】【开】【这】【儿】，【可】【每】【走】【一】【步】，【谷】【少】【宁】【就】【会】【挡】【住】，【还】2017年112期藏宝图“【起】【床】【了】，【起】【床】【了】【吗】，【月】【月】【你】【怎】【么】【还】【在】【睡】【啊】？” 【珞】【珞】【废】【了】【九】【牛】【二】【虎】【之】【力】，【才】【稍】【稍】【拉】【动】【了】【她】【一】【点】，【结】【果】【她】【又】【倒】【了】【下】【去】。 【没】【办】【法】，【只】【能】【是】【姐】【妹】【几】【个】【一】【起】【上】【了】！ 【而】【她】，【仍】【然】【是】【一】【直】【迷】【迷】【糊】【糊】【着】，【所】【以】【上】【妆】，【换】【衣】【服】【都】【是】【姐】【妹】【几】【个】【亲】【自】【帮】【她】【弄】【的】。 【正】【给】【她】【打】【扮】【着】，【她】【突】【然】【觉】【得】【一】【阵】【的】【恶】【心】，【然】【后】【马】【上】【跑】【到】【了】【洗】【手】
【第】307【章】【抵】【达】【妖】【都】 【楚】【南】【天】【笑】【了】【笑】，【示】【意】【楚】【秋】【云】【出】【去】。 “【楚】【南】【天】，【不】【知】【道】【你】【这】【次】【的】【运】【气】【还】【在】【不】【在】，【楚】【家】【因】【为】【你】【这】【次】【赌】【博】【到】【底】【是】【兴】【还】【是】【亡】？”【楚】【南】【天】【在】【楚】【秋】【云】【出】【去】【后】，【靠】【在】【椅】【背】【上】【有】【些】【出】【神】。 【楚】【南】【天】【其】【实】【是】【在】【赌】，【他】【赌】【自】【己】【的】【推】【测】【没】【有】【错】【误】，【赌】【叶】【晨】【没】【有】【骗】【他】，【赌】【他】【没】【有】【看】【错】【叶】【晨】。 【如】【果】【他】【赌】【输】【了】，【那】【楚】
【拿】【到】【录】【取】【通】【知】【书】【几】【天】【后】，【李】【瑜】【还】【没】【回】【过】【神】【来】。 “【可】【以】【啊】【昕】【昕】，【没】【想】【到】，【你】【还】【是】【隐】【藏】【的】【学】【神】【啊】！” 【沈】【昕】【抱】【着】【零】【食】【慢】【慢】【吃】【着】：“【你】【这】【话】【每】【天】【都】【重】【复】【好】【几】【遍】，【你】【不】【累】【吗】？” “【但】【我】【好】【奇】【啊】，【你】【是】【怎】【么】【做】【到】【的】？【我】【们】【每】【天】【都】【在】【一】【起】，【就】【没】【见】【过】【你】【看】【过】【一】【本】【书】，【是】【怎】【么】【考】【上】【的】？” “【天】……” “【别】【拿】【天】【赋】【应】【付】
【忍】【不】【住】【就】【争】【辩】【起】【来】。 “【没】【有】【就】【没】【有】【了】，【你】【管】【我】【有】【没】【有】【啊】？【我】【找】【不】【到】【男】【朋】【友】【你】【很】【有】【快】【感】【啊】？【找】【不】【到】，【就】【说】【我】【没】【本】【事】，【我】【没】【事】【不】【也】【是】【你】【生】【的】？” 【老】【太】【太】【一】【听】，【气】【了】，【一】【拍】【床】【头】，【震】【了】【震】。【大】【叫】【道】： “【是】【你】【自】【己】【不】【听】【话】，【给】【你】【介】【绍】【了】【多】【少】，【你】【就】【是】【不】【听】【不】【见】，【自】【以】【为】【自】【己】【是】【天】【仙】【下】【凡】，【一】【般】【凡】【夫】【俗】【子】【配】【不】【上】【你】【呢】，