‘The Inheritance’ Arrives at a Festival of German Drama
Austrian Peter Handke, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, is often controversial. For many, Handke has been tainted with sympathy for Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. The news of the writer’s Nobel Prize was seen by some as unbelievable, with his 2020 play Zdenek Adamek premiered at the Salzburg Festival after threats of protest. Yet Handke, now 80, continues to publish and perform in memorable clips.
His latest stage text, Zwiegesprech, was published as a book shortly before its world premiere at Vienna’s Burgtheater. The author dedicated a dramatic dialogue to actors Otto Sander and Bruno Ganz, stars of Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire, which Handke wrote. Much of this short, poetic passage has to do with the nature of acting and storytelling. There is also a sense of the bitter struggle between his grandfather, father and son.
“Zwiegesprech” at Theaterteffen takes place on Saturday and Sunday As one of the closing works of the festival. Most recently, it headlined Radical Jung, another major German theater festival at Munich’s Volkstheater, where I saw the film last month.
Directed by Berlin-born young director Rieke Schuskow, this dazzling production further heightens the dialogue’s generational conflict. Set in a nursing home, she distributes Handke’s texts to actors playing frail residents and their evil caregivers, somehow convincing without having distinct characters or conventional plots. created a certain dramaturgy.
Much credit goes to her stage designer. Myryam Stengl. Shuskopf and her team, thanks to the meticulous artistry of Handke’s, 60-page pamphlet Memory, loss, regret, and the nature of art are brought to life in an emotionally resonant performance.
Separating art from the artist should not mean giving the artist a free pass. But given this delicately paced and meticulously crafted work, there seemed little doubt that Handke was attuned to the moral responsibility of storytelling.
Until May 29th at various venues in Berlin. berlinerfestspiele.de.