Storming Strongholds

The Summer School Südtirol for Dramatic Writing was organized by Maxi Obexer, former fellow and juror of Akademie Schloss Solitude, and the new Dramatic Institute which was founded 2014 by Maxi Obexer and Marianna Salzmann. The topic »Escape and Refuge« is reflecting the common refugee movement. As result of the workshop ten authors began a collaborative writing project, the literary series Balkongespräche (Balcony Conversations). Schlosspost will be featuring this project.


»Many questions followed the Summer School for Dramatic Writing. One of them was the question of a form, a way to think further, to continue to find out something together about our actions, about how we relate to the world and the present trough artistic creation. The literary series Balkongespräche (Balcony Conversations) only ever delivers a temporary answer to all of these questions since we – as ten authors – are reacting to one another in written form, answering, overwriting, and reformulating. And in doing so, a text emerges – simultaneously a chain reaction, a texture woven in cooperation, Chinese whispers, and letter correspondence – which, from various perspectives, tells of an urgency and longing for communication, the external, the other, the unfamiliar. A process which we test on its potential for the Political.« – Anna Gschnitzer


Storming Strongholds

It is expressed in innumerable songs: the history of the European migration. Heart-rending poetic songs, which confer to the people setting out into the unknown the honor of going forth. The calls of the others, their farewell, the gaze upon the ship, the sea, the swell, and the ruin. The separation rents open wounds whose tears do not heal and should not be forgotten, hence the many songs they compose, keeping the pain alive. When we hear them today, after so many years, it is as if it happened yesterday. And something else becomes painfully apparent: we hear in the stories of people’s closeness to one another; they are joined. Those who go are joined to those who cry for them and moreover to the many individuals who embark on their journey, goaded on by poverty and wars; led by hope and longing. The fates of human beings, which bind people of all kinds, an anthropological constant, human knowledge.

At present, we are seeing trains of refugees currently on the move on the streets, wide and narrow, proceeding through forests, meandering over fields, directed by a police patrol. We see them waiting in front of registration stations. We see them on ships, on boats. We see them united in their fate, something we cannot claim for our part. From our individualized lives, we observe them. What unites us? Us with ourselves, us with them?

One thought occupied the Summer School for Dramatic Writing: »We leave ourselves alone with hardship, with suffering, with ruin. But we also leave ourselves alone with our possibilities.«

Authors are considered lone fighters and keep themselves willingly in solitary confinement. Our careers keep us apart, but they also separate fields from one another. The how and the why of science takes place in the scientific world; the how and the why of art in the even more differentiated worlds of the arts. However, when it comes to collecting and asking the complex questions of the present, we should not settle for this. We should also find out what realities the present consists of and how it should be questioned and considered by those who live in it, not least to find out precisely where the borders to other forms of thinking and negotiating are to be drawn: political art is the opposite of pursuing policies.

For a week, we dived into the reflections of others. We found out what activists busy themselves with on a daily basis; what tricks they fight with; how the nomadic structures of the Sinti are put to rout through the sale of public assets; the many ways in which the necessity to flee arises; how important refugees are if we take them seriously as advisers. Without romantic competition, we could confront the questions which we encounter as writers. Like the question concerning the responsibility for what we are writing. Or the one which explores the nature of empathy: as a prerequisite for joint negotiation? As a prerequisite for art? At various moments this summer, the strongholds were also stormed by us. What resulted after the events were the balcony conversation in the afternoons and evenings continuing late into the night; and from this spirit, the future blog contributions.


Text by Maxi Obexer, translated from German by Johannes Brandis