Some days before Paris attacks on the 13th November, Dirk Laucke, guest at Théâtre Ouvert for Fabulamundi Project, wrote this journal.
Who cares who the people is?
by Dirk Laucke
Success is not very reliable. Especially when you have it. You spend even more energy to hold on to a certain state of fortune than it was neccesary to achieve it.
But before we all start thinking: In which kind of Babylonian logorrhoea we are trapped in here? let me say: Excusez-moi, Mesdames et Messieurs at the Theatre Ouvert for my bad English. Coming from the Eastern part of Germany, the former socialist country called German Democratic Republic, I even decided to learn Russian in school instead of your beautiful language, French (which I partly regret). Why? My parents had to learn it when they were young and now during my school years eventually they could help me with my exercises, I thought… But that’s not the whole truth. The backside of my statement is: In socialism my father was a commander of eastern army’s tank troops. During my whole childhood I was fascinated by that – the military, the vehicles and airplanes, guns and weapons as well as, yes, the ideas of socialism and communism itself and the horrible way how those stupids tryied to realize them. After the Berlin Wall fell (I was aged 7) I still felt attracted. Probably – no, pardon: for sure I read more Russian poetry and prose than for instance French pieces (okay, Sartre and Camus were a must) or Spanish or Italian etcetera. After some novels and reports of former Sovyet commanders with names like Katukov and Shukov about their battles in World War II I had my initial experiences in the lesson called reading with Gorky, Dostoyevsky, Anna Akhmatova, Platonov, Yewtucenko and of course – the best of all – Anton Pavlovic Cechov …
And a few lines later he will tell us about his first pet called “Hansi” and how he felt when his girlfriend “Gretchen” refused kissing with tongues?, you might think. And you are right. But give me a chance.
I wrote my first play called “Ford Escort Dark Blue” about my own experiences at a job where I had to sort out different crates of empty bottles at a store far out in the Eastern parts countryside. The play was a success, awarding prizes and it was staged several times in Germany. When I went home by train from my first award with my medal and my bank cheque and my hands still sweaty from shaking officials I was … well how to say? Sad … Yes, I think it felt like that, because now the real work would start, I assumed. Luckily, I met two guys in the smoking area of the cabin – which existed in these days around 2006, dear kids. They let me think of something else. About borders in Europe. How comes? Well, after a while of talking they told me they were just coming from Poland were they bought some cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes, I have to add. The tall guy grapped into his sleeve and pulled out two or three big boxes of Marlboros. Of course they intended to sell me some of their smuggled articles, but in fact they offered me a story. At least: the characters for a new play. Back home I did what young author has got to do: I wrote down some sketchy notes. But it did not fit out for more. I wrote and even directed some other plays, which rootet more or less in my Eastern-part-of-Germany-background, slightly concerned about the rise, or in Germany we can say: the survival of right wing ideology.
Now he takes the turn to his “Pas pour tout le monde.”
When I was asked in 2009 to write a play about the Fall of the Wall – I was happy and in the same second again a bit sad about the honour. You know, like they asked the wrong guy or something. The permission was granted by the State Theatre in Dresden and the Goethe Institut – an international big thing. Thinking about the fall of the Wall I realized that I was … well, not going nuts for the topic. I was interested in my smugglers! And I was interested in the tanks of my childhood and my father’s stories. And I was concerned, really concerned and angry, too, about one more occasion for Germany to celebrate itself and it’s historic anniversary, one more chance to present itself as the country of freedom. (Which is a thing they like to do here – as if we decided to get rid of the Nazis and the GDR.) No, no, not with me, was my first internal reaction. And I started mumbling to myself: You want me to tell the story of how we became such a free and nice country after we had to suffer dictatorship (yes, forget those who suffered our will to power). Why that? Germany is one of the most powerfull countries in Europe. What do I say? In the world! What gives German filmmakers a living? Fairy tales for kids and Reflecting Our History. One more drama about the Wall with about 300 victims who died in fourty years of socialism? Spin the wheel of time: Today we have to count tens of thousands dead in the Mediterranean! There are new fences! The enemy is not trying to escape, he is trying to get in! Into to the same freedom and rights you want to worship and praise! Look at Lybia! (I mumbled in 2009.) Shaking hands with Gaddafi, a main suspect of terror for British services, to let him handle the problem of refugees before they cross the sea to Europe. And what is the situation in the former Eastern part of Germany now? All grinning winners? No! Lots of people who are conditioned to strict rules of obediance and a small gap of freedom are attacking everyone who is different – people of colour, migrants, punks, homosexuals … Vaguely that is what I monologised when I started writing “Pas pour tout le monde.” I remembered my trips to Eastern Europe, going to Russia by train. Going to Prague with my schoolclass by bus. Another bus trip, I was in primary school, to the Baltic sea, where normal Eastern parts youth (Nazis? Yes. But they wouldn’t even call themself like that, or realize it.) attacked and burnt a refugee’s residential home in a town called Rostock. In my memory it must have been the same time when in the harbour of Dover a cargo truck coming from Calais was opened – inside the authorities found the bodies of Asian refugees, frozen. The German author Maxim Biller wrote a play about it. I read it and – sorry Maxim, you are a great novelist – was not convinced. So I put all these together and … And I forget it as quick as I could. Because I had to write a play.
Of course today the refugees are not coming from Asia as they do in the play. Of course I could not know of the new anti-muslim, anti-migrant right wing movement called PEGIDA in Dresden, the city were “Pas pour tout le monde” was premiered. Of course I was aware of the xenophobic and sometimes absurd reactionary climate in the town. Which is, by the way, less covered in the look of right wing fighters then in the deep and serious concern and, yes, sorrow about what happens when they come. Do Germans and maybe the whole Western culture have to die? No kidding, that’s the language, but I am sure you heard it from family Le Pen – the phenomenon is a European. But in Dresden the fun with the language goes on: like in 1989 in other towns of Eastern Germany nowadays demonstrants are walking through the streets yelling the same slogan: “Wir sind das Volk!” “We are the people.” Which implies that the others, the migrants and refugees are not. What kind of attitude is that? The people is the people and bullshit is bullshit. Who cares who the people is? Appealing politicians not to forget who is the simple German? I am sure there is even more behind using the same historical phrase. Basically the marchers want to say: We (which is the first lie) have achieved our goal (which is the second), we want to keep it. For us.
And partly they are right. I said partly, because, we will keep our “freedom”, more or less. But the wellfare systems? The economic stability? Are they not, in all over Europe, for ten years, step by step, on the way down to the minimum? Unfortunately the marchers did not recognize that this fact, which they really should concern, has nothing to do with migration.
Allthough the staging of my play in Dresden five years ago proves that art, in this case theatre will have little to no influence to the people – it won’t stop them marching and attacking when they want – I am really glad that you will read “Pas pour tout le monde” at the festival in Theatre Ouvert. I really put some of my heart in it and hope the team will do the same. And have some fun with it!