On The Royal Road
by Elfriede Jelinek
“Attention, here comes the new king…!” The champion, the pioneer, the leader, the winner, the father, the redeemer, the god. The newly elected king goes by many names, but nobody ever mentions his real one. Elfriede Jelinek’s new work is inspired by Donald J. Trump, but this is not a play about him. She poses more fundamental questions: Why does right-wing populism tend to go hand in hand with supercapitalism? Doesn’t the victory of this king signify the uncanny return of “the historically transmitted old ways”, “even though millions had to die because of these”? And why isn’t the blindness of the new right countered by insights of their opponents? Why is everyone in this drama blind?
Right at the beginning of the play, the author appears as a blind seer, bleeding from her eyes, and later from the mouth as well. The king enters as a blind Oedipus. He brings the plague and will soon be banished, but for now he still sits in his golden tower on his little golden chair, drinking from golden cups with his little golden family. Meanwhile his followers and adversaries are beating each other up like Punch and Judy. Where are we? In a monster horror picture show? On trashy reality TV? In a badly made Imperator movie? In a superhero cartoon? Trump’s performative self-dramatisation offers the perfect blueprint for Jelinek's brilliant parody. Yet feelings of despair, powerlessness and shock remain palpable: about the hatred and anger of the new white groupings, about nationalism and racism which are resurrected from their ancient graves like monstrous zombies.
Directed by: Falk Richter Set Design: Katrin Hoffmann Costume Design: Andy Besuch Composition and music: Matthias Grübel Video: Meika Dresenkamp, Michel Auder Lightning: Carsten Sander Dramatury: Rita Thiele