2020 ODER DAS ENDE (2020 OR THE END)
World Premiere JunE 2020
A woman swims. A woman sits on a plane. A woman hands out vol au vents in a steel kitchen.
The woman swims through rivers. The green gathers falls around her body as she moves. Her body is strong, muscular, efficient at navigating the water. We hear her thoughts as she pushes into the river and drags the water with her fingertips. She describes the feel of the water, the motion, the rhythm. The plants around her, the fish beneath her, the trees at the river's edge, the exact change of temperature that hits at various different points on her body. She talks about her body. About her life. About all that she has done and all that she will not do anymore. The world is ending. She is greeting it. A woman walks onto the stage soaking wet and lies down.
A woman sits on a plane. She is nervous. The man next to her is wearing a suit and he pulls his tie every so often, but does not remove it. He is looking at the air stewardess (who is perhaps the swimmer) and making it clear he wants to fuck her in the plane toilets. The woman drinks vodka. She doesn't eat the meal, the meat on the plate looks like an organ. Perhaps the plane begins to flood with water. Not much. Just a little. No one notices but the woman. The drinks trolley rolls through the shallow water and hands out ham sandwiches. The woman wants to vomit. She's waiting for the plane to crash. She's waiting for a terrorist to pull a gun out. She's waiting for the dead body in the hold to climb up into the plane and lie down in front of her.
A woman is in her kitchen. She's staring at another woman in her kitchen who is heavily pregnant. She hands out the vol au vents she spent all day making. She tops up the glasses of champagne. She smiles. Her face threatens to crack. The kitchen is immaculate. Steel surfaces and huge glass doors look out onto a green garden that slowly begins to burn until it is desert. The guests laugh. They talk about golf and politics and weddings and the gender pay gap. The pregnant woman begins to breathe deeply and clutch her stomach. The Man who was on the plane rubs a pile of coke into his gums.
Outside the trees burn and the birds scatter.'
The English author Alice Birch has written a play for the Burgtheater, in which her characters are physically experiencing the environmental catastrophes that are our present and imminent future. The stories of this triptych revolve around private tipping points, around the intimacy of the catastrophe. In Austria, Alice Birch is known for her screenplay for the film Lady Macbeth, which earned her the prestigious British Independent Film Award. In recent years, she has staged four productions together with the director Katie Mitchell, who is returning to the Burgtheater for the first time since Peter Handke’s Wunschloses Unglück (A Sorrow Beyond Dreams) five years ago.