WORLD Premiere June 2020
Thomas Pere belongs to a minority group – or, more precisely, to two. He was born in Romania into a family descended from the “teitsche” (German) population that emigrated from the Salzkammergut and Tyrol in the 18th century. When his family moved to Germany in 1991, he was again a member of a minority group that should actually always have belonged to the majority. Upon his immigration, he was asked, “Do you avow yourself a German?”
karpatenflecken places three generations of women at the centre of a historical panorama originating in a small region in the Wooded Carpathians of Romania. Grandmother Margarethe and her daughter and granddaughter cross political, geographical and linguistic boundaries as they race through the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. Thomas Perle, one of the few people who still speak Zipser German, an amalgamation of old Austrian, Romanian, Hungarian and Yiddish, has written an unsentimental work that knows all these languages well. karpatenflecken deals with the way politics shapes languages and shifts their boundaries and meanings, and examines how much sense of self is nevertheless preserved in the languages – and tells the story of a small patch on the map that could be called Europe.
Every two years since 2003, the Graz DRAMA FORUM has awarded the Retzhof Drama Prize, which has now become one of the most prestigious young talent awards for contemporary drama in the German-speaking world. The prize is worth 5,000 euros, and since 2015 the chosen text has been granted a premiere performance in one of the Burgtheater’s venues. karpatenflecken is the winner of the Retzhof Drama Prize in 2019. Recent winners include Ewald Palmetshofer, Ferdinand Schmalz, Özlem Özgül Dündar and Miroslava Svolikova.
The 2019 nominees worked on their texts all year – with regular help and guidance from drama and film experts. An international panel of five judges chooses the winning text from among the completed works.
“Ever since the Retzhof Drama Prize was established more than 15 years ago, it has become one of the major prizes for dramatists at the start of their careers. This is not only because it is associated with a premiere performance. What makes the prize so important is the regular networking with other authors and the collaboration with the director, cast and dramaturge. The author is supported by a network whose constructive criticism is essential to the ongoing development of his or her own writing. With this in mind, I congratulate this year’s winner most warmly and look forward to our discussions and exchange of ideas!”
– Gerhild Steinbuch, winner 2003