The Stage / Features / Elfriede Jelinek: Game on

An interesting (albeit short) little interview wth Elfriede Jelinek in The Stage, with Simon Stephens, sparked by the premiere of Ein Sportstück (something like, A Piece on Sport, here translated as Sports Play).

What do you learn from watching your plays?

Unfortunately I can no longer watch my plays because I suffer from an anxiety illness and can no longer visit the theatre. So I lack this experience. In earlier times, when I could still go, I did watch the plays but I didn’t learn anything, except that I had to find a different form than that of dialogue, but that was something I already knew beforehand.

We’re shamed by your absence from our major stages. How Austrian do you consider your writing to be? How Germanic?

I’m sorry, too, that British stages don’t seem to have an interest in my texts. I think that’s also due to the different tradition. I simply don’t write any ‘well made plays’. I wouldn’t be able to either, even if I tried.Owing to my illness, I live a very reclusive life, so I wouldn’t even know anymore how people talk to each other nowadays. Therefore I have to let ideas and ideologies compete against each other – another sports metaphor. In any case, I come from the Austrian literary tradition, which is really quite different from the German tradition.In Austria, there has always been a receptive audience for texts that critique language – texts that let language itself speak, as it were – from the language philosophy of early Wittgenstein and the language critic Karl Kraus through to the Vienna Group of the postwar era. In Germany I don’t see this. I drive language on, all the way to the worst pun – something I am always accused of – so that language has to say the truth, even against its will.

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One thought on “The Stage / Features / Elfriede Jelinek: Game on

  1. You two guys should meet some time. It’s geographically impossible, but it would be lovely.

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