It’s not often playwrights from different traditions, cultures or countries manage to get together, and I’m grateful for the opportunity which arose this Summer at the International Research Centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ in Berlin. Playwright Dea Loher came to speak at the centre where Femi Osofisan and I are fellows. What became clear after even the shortest introduction was the serious intent with which we all write – the impulse often triggered by a desire to dialogue with or about injustice, war, or conflict. The photograph, above, is courtesy of the centre’s newsletter, as is the short commentary, below.
Award-winning author and playwright Dea Loher offered fascinating insights into her sources of inspiration and her work processes. She talked about her impetus for writing, concentrating especially on her play “The Last Fire”. It premiered at Thalia Theater Hamburg and was named 2008 “Play of the Year” by Theater heute. “The Last Fire” brings into focus the concept of the drama of reality, the recurring theme in Loher’s work. The basis of the play was a newspaper article about a family tragedy caused by the accidental death of an 8-year-old boy. Dea Loher reconstructs the breakup of the family and the changes in its members’ psyche in the face of this tragedy. Her characters long for an encounter beyond the pain. She also described to us the moment of speechlessness she experienced during a workshop in Kabul, Afghanistan, that stimulated a discussion on the value of life in war and crisis zones.
IRC Interweaving Performance Cultures newsletter
Dea Loher is one of Germany’s most esteemed German playwrights. Her plays have been translated into many languages and staged all over the world. She studied “Creative Writing for the Stage” at Hochschule der Künste Berlin under Heiner Müller and Yaak Karsunke. Since their first collaboration on “Stranger’s House” in 1995, almost all of Dea Loher’s plays have been directed by acclaimed German stage director Andreas Kriegenburg. This collaboration became one of the most fruitful artistic relationships in contemporary German theatre. Dea Loher received such highly regarded German drama awards as the Else-Lasker-Schüler-Dramatikerpreis (2005), the Bertolt-Brecht-Preis der Stadt Augsburg (2006), the Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis (1998 and 2008), the Marieluise-Fleißer-Preis (2009) and the Berliner Literaturpreis (2009). She has lived in Berlin since 1989. (Source: http://www.aoiagency.com/2010/07/dea–loher/)
‘Femi Osofisan is a playwright, poet, theatre director, university professor, literary theorist, and newspaper critic, and he is part of a generation of Nigerians who feel they have experienced Nigerian independence as an empty slogan. Thus he fashions a committed literature designed to shatter the enduring shackles of religion, custom, and colonialism and to stimulate a confident, imaginatively self-critical sensibility capable of charting a course toward a more humane, egalitarian society. Writing in English, he aims his dramas at those whose education enables them to manage the nation’s destiny, but his manipulation of the theatre’s rich nonverbal resources, coupled with an exploitation of indigenous, African performance aesthetics, means that his work has the potential to reach a wider audience. Within Nigeria he is often viewed as a radical intent upon completely destroying the past, but his radicalism actually builds on the best of tradition while seeking to encourage pervasive change.’ (Source: http://www.bookrags.com/biography/femi-osofisan/)