Die Schutzbefohlenen (The Supplicants)

In the end, after various attempts of representation by accomplished actors from the Thalia Theater’s company, finally the Lampedusa refugees from Hamburg’s St. Pauli Church raise their own voices in Nicolas Stemann’s production of “Die Schutzbefohlenen” by Elfriede Jelinek. Jelinek’s angry, forceful text refers to Aeschylus’ 2500 year-old play “The Suppliants” as logically as it does to the occupation of Vienna’s Votivkirche in 2012 by Pakistani refugees.

To this mythological foundation and current suffering, Nicolas Stemann adds the question of the representability of this suffering: Who can speak for whom here? How can this be acted, how can we come even close to grasping the whole scope of this problem’s hideousness, never mind to solving it. It is a grand circling of the failure of civil society – and of art: “We can’t help you; we’re too busy playing you.” And at the same time: The plea for us not to duck away. To look into our own frightened eyes. To acknowledge the misery of the world in our own comfort zone.