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Peter Turrini

I always yearned to be at home in Theatre

AS A ‘MERE’ MEMBER OF THE EDITING TEAM OF THIS JOURNAL, IT’S NOT AN EASY TASK TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTORY ‘HOMAGE’ ABOUT THE FAMOUS, GREAT LANGUAGE AND SPEECH ARTIST, DRAMATIST, POET, AND NOVELIST PETER TURRINI FOR THIS INTERVIEW. I’LL KEEP IT SHORT AND LET OUR AWARDWINNING GUEST, BORN IN ST. MARGARETHEN IN THE LAVANT VALLEY, TAKE THE STAGE.

Turrini’s works were trans­la­ted into count­less lan­guages and his theat­re pie­ces were per­for­med all over the world. Howe­ver, the fol­lowing pages deal with his opi­ni­on on ‘revo­lu­ti­ons’. His first pie­ces were also revo­lu­tio­na­ry, and inclu­ded works the likes of ‘Rozznjogd’ (1971), ‘Sau­schlach­ten’ (1972), the fan­tasti­cal ‘Alpen­sa­ga’, and a 70s legen­da­ry TV seri­es just to name a few. They all spar­ked a revo­lu­ti­on in both the histo­ry of Aus­tri­an lite­ra­tu­re as well as in the hearts and minds of rea­ders and view­ers. Years later, ‘Alpen­glü­hen’ (direc­tor: Claus Pey­mann, per­for­mance in the Burg­thea­ter 1993) cau­sed an upro­ar. He reached cri­ti­cal acc­laim with his ‘Josef und Maria’ theat­re pie­ce, among others. Tur­ri­ni wro­te the libret­to for the ope­ra ‘Der Rie­se vom Stein­feld’ which pre­mie­red at the Vien­na Sta­te Ope­ra in 2002.

Peter, when did it all start?

Very ear­ly. I took refu­ge in lan­guage, in thoughts, when I felt more and more exclu­ded in this vil­la­ge from the 50s in the Aus­tri­an Carin­thia regi­on. It wasn’t wri­ting per se, rather an attempt at crea­ting a world using my thoughts whe­re I could feel at home. Short­ly after, at the age of 15, I wro­te the first sce­nes and poems of my fledgling career.

In 1971, your first major thea­tri­cal suc­cess ‘Rozznjogd’ debut­ed and brought down the house in the Volks­thea­ter: how did you feel?

Pure bliss, becau­se I always year­ned to be at home in theat­re. During the pre­mie­re you men­tio­ned, the audi­ence was bes­i­de its­elf, the theat­re resem­bled a bubb­ling and frot­hing witch’s cauld­ron. Echo­ing screams and a hea­ving mass of peop­le. I stood on the sta­ge, arms cros­sed, and thought, ‘You’ve final­ly reached the place you’ve always year­ned for, and nobo­dy can ever keep you from it.’ The direc­tor, stan­ding back­stage, kept on cal­ling me back, but I sim­ply stood the­re. And I was happy.

And, after 45 years, what do you expe­ri­ence now after such a gre­at and reco­gnis­ed care­er? Are the fee­lings still the same?

My care­er as an aut­hor isn’t only made up of my suc­ces­ses and Moments of joy but also of doubts and fail­u­res But the joy of being a play­w­right who­se works are per­for­med time and again all over the world? That’s never stopped.

Peter, you’re cur­r­ent­ly working on a new pie­ce. Can you let us in on it?

It talks about Hedy Lamarr. She was the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world back in the 30s, per­forming as a Hol­ly­wood actress and the first who ran across the screen with an unbut­to­ned blou­se. It’s unfair she’s only remem­be­red becau­se of that moment, becau­se truth is she was a gre­at inven­tor; her inven­ti­on (‘Fre­quen­cy Hop­ping’) lar­ge­ly con­tri­bu­t­ed to the deve­lo­p­ment of telecom­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and today’s mobi­le pho­nes. This dicho­to­my, intel­li­gence and beau­ty, fasci­na­ted me and I wan­ted to immor­ta­li­se this extra­or­di­na­ry woman. At the moment I’m pen­ning the final draft of the Piece.

What does the word ‘revo­lu­ti­on’ mean to you?

Today? The word ‘revo­lu­ti­on’ means not­hing at all. If every car com­pa­ny dubs its new model as revo­lu­tio­na­ry, if even cer­tain plastic bags are descri­bed as revo­lu­tio­na­ry, what’s left? The con­cept has beco­me pas­sé and lost its ori­gi­nal mea­ning, i.e. describ­ing a radi­cal opposition.

T[/eltdf_drop­caps]he school of thoughts pre­sent in 1968 are still ali­ve and kicking in many ide­as of our modern socie­ty. When you think of this time, what memo­ries stay with you?

As many others from my genera­ti­on, I grew up in a reac­tion­a­ry and post-fascist, post-war. The ruins of the world had to be rebuilt, peace had to reign once again and, more than anything else, nobo­dy could ask ques­ti­ons about fascism. Yet we loo­ked for ans­wers, we wan­ted to know why our par­ents’ genera­ti­on had blown the world to smit­he­reens, and by the end of the 60s we’d ask the­se ques­ti­ons so wild­ly and loud­ly that nobo­dy could pre­tend they hadn’t heard us. We wan­ted to dis­sol­ve all past models, from mar­ria­ge to reli­gious faith – and I’m still har­bou­ring ple­nty of rage.

Fast-for­ward to today and the cur­rent migra­ti­on issu­es, the unfet­te­red rise of radi­ca­li­sa­ti­on, the ‘pos­si­ble’ sho­ring up of poli­ci­es against migra­to­ry flows, clo­sed bor­ders: what moti­va­tes and moves you now? For instance, the EU obtai­ned the Nobel Peace Pri­ze in 2012. What do you think about that?

The Nobel Peace Pri­ze was unde­ser­ved. Right now, the EU is trea­ting refu­gees in a mean way, giving them the cold shoul­der, takes refu­ge in its fort­ress of well­being and crea­tes bor­ders whe­re­ver. And the bor­ders rise even in the hearts of a lot of Euro­peans. ‘For­eig­ners’ should stay out. The­se peop­le wan­ting to come to us aren’t that for­eign or stran­ge, after all. They have more in com­mon with you or me than you’d belie­ve. The lion’s share of the wea­pons used to kill them in Syria, for examp­le, Comes from Euro­pean wea­pon manu­fac­tu­rers. We’re here to help and not to turn away People.

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Sie arbeitet seit über zwei Jahrzehnten als freie Journalistin. Sie profilierte sich mit Beiträgen in verschiedenen österreichischen Zeitungen. Unter anderem schrieb sie für die „Kleine Zeitung“, Krone Steiermark, Falk-Zeitung „täglich Alles“ sowie für einige renommierte Magazine wie zum Beispiel das Wirtschaftsmagazin der „Top-Gewinn“ (Gewinn Verlag). In der österreichischen Finanz- und Wirtschaftszeitung „Börsen-Kurier“ (www.boersen-Kurier.at), für die, die Journalistin seit 15 Jahren aktiv schreibt, informiert sie, neben Berichten aus der Finanz- und Wirtschaftswelt, auf der Seite „Kunst und Kultur“ auch über Kunstthemen wie Kunstinvestment. Sie interviewte österreichische Größen der Kunst wie Arnulf Rainer, Arik Brauer, Herbert Brandl und andere. Schweinegger hat an der Entstehung des Buches „Investieren in schöne Dinge“, erschienen im Herbst 2012 im Gewinn Verlag, 1070 Wien, mit anderen Autoren mitgewirkt.

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