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16/05/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

At the Wiener Festwochen Luc Bondy directed the German premiere of Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse's new play "Sleep".

Luc Bondy and Jon Fosse are incompatible, concludes Christopher Schmidt in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Bondy's directorial hyperactivity paralyses Fosse's melancholy in "Sleep". "And when to top it all a child's toy rolls across the stage as if moved by a ghostly hand and there's no end to the poltergeist noises, it all seems a little twee. The heterogeneous acting does the piece no good either. The young Philipp Hauß heaves himself around the stage as a monosyllabic goblin with the wooden charm of a Nordmann fir while Edith Clever performs a sort of shuffling ballet in furry shoes like an old Eskimo squaw cirlcing a totem pole. With a thousand limp gestures of a trained tragic actress she evokes the afflictions of age. And Bondy ironically forestalls her later collapse by having her younger double, Mareike Sedl, slip over a toy car."

Barbara Villiger Heilig of the Neue Zürchner Zeitung was overjoyed by the performance. "No, neither Jon Fosse nor Luc Bondy give any instructions on achieving happiness within the family unit! Instead this play, which dream-walks alongside the depths of the human soul elevating everything complicated into simplicity itself, shows what theatre is capable of. A rare thing by today's standards."

And Ulrich Weinzierl in Die Welt is in awe of the actress Edith Clever, who "is virtuous to the point uncanniness, even as a corpse."


Die Welt, 16.05.2006


Mexican immigrants demonstrated recently in several American cities for the recognition of illegal immigrants and dual citizenship. Wolf Lepenies sees in them a model for immigrants worldwide: "The 'Latinos' want to become Americans – and remain Mexicans. The Mexican government encourages this. When an 'illegal' immigrant finally becomes American and gives up his or her Mexican citizenship in the process, the Mexican authorities turn a blind eye: 'No lo digas!' - 'Don't tell me!' they say. Dual citizenship has in fact existed for a long time, however it is recognised neither by the USA nor by Mexico."

Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene talks in an interview about the role of women in Islam and the practice of female genital circumcision, the subject of his latest film "Moolaadé". "Circumcision rites differ widely from place to place. These are cultural practices, not religious ones. In Egypt women are circumcised aseptically in large hospitals. That's the Arab-Muslim tradition. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait they aren't circumcised at all. There are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other country, but there's no female circumcision. In Ethiopia women are circumcised then almost completed stitched together. But I know Eritrean women who had themselves circumcised while fighting for independence from Ethiopia. In Senegal, genital cutting of girls and women is illegal. The practice is full of contradictions, and has nothing to do with religion. People who fight against it should only be supported."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16.05.2006

Does South Korea need of a new national anthem? Embarrassingly, the current one was composed by a supporter of Japanese colonial power, reports Hoo Nam Seelmann. "In 1940, Richard Strauss composed a 'Festmusik' and dedicated it to 'His Majesty the Emperor of Japan' as part of the 'Celebrations of the 2600-year existence of the Japanese Empire'. And the work premiered in Tokyo the same year, under the conductor Ekitai Ahn, who is none other that the composer of the national anthem. Recently a short bit of film appeared in Berlin showing Ahn conducting the premiere of his own composition at the celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Manchukuo, the Japanese puppet state in Chinese Manchuria. That was in 1942 and he was conducting the Berlin Philharmonie before high-ranking Nazis and Japanese diplomats. The composer and conductor - whose Korean name is Ahn Ik Tae – has added new fire to the still hotly disputed issue of collaboration with the Japanese colonial masters.


Die Tageszeitung, 16.05.2006

Sociologist Dirk Baecker deplores the effect the "Wende", or the fall of the Berlin Wall, had on the citizens of East Germany: "In fact the Wende demonstrated only that society in the GDR had failed. So people in the West only talked with people who believed exactly that. Everyone else was subjected to a paradigm case of philosopher Carl Schmitt's 'command of silence'. Their jobs, businesses, schools and universities, political plans, economic markets and academic ideas were all taken from them."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 16.05.2006

For young Turkish academics, Germany holds very little appeal as a foreign study destination, as Jeanne Rubner learned from scholarship holders at the Humboldt Foundation in Istanbul. "The best students get state scholarships to do their doctorates abroad. Half of them go the USA, 40 percent go to the UK and exactly three percent go to Germany. And after the reunification, Germany became entirely caught up with itself, and lost interest in Turkey. Plans for a German university in Istanbul have been scrapped for lack of funds. Now the USA is filling the vacancy."

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