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Distinguished Speaker: Professor Dr Nikolaus Müller-Schöll (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main)
Post-Traumatic Theatre: The Question of the Other in Works by Laurent Chétouane and Rabih Mroué
Beginning with some thoughts about the notion of trauma in psychoanalysis, I would like to raise the question of how it might be possible to stage a traumatic “loss of language” (Blanchot) without universalizing trauma, but also without reducing it to a merely ‘personal’ traumatization. I will examine this by looking at two concrete works, which, in their difference to one another, enable us to measure the broad field of what I would like to call post-traumatic theatre: Laurent Chétouane’s staging of Heinrich von Kleist’s The Earthquake in Chile and Rabih Mroué’s piece “Riding on a Cloud”. Both lead us to the border of unrepresentability, to an experience of the other that we cannot access in any adequate way, and which, in the interests of justice, forces us into dual readings. By reading the signs of the other’s presence, we must envision the traces of its irreversible absence, and, in reading these, we must at the same time become aware of its illegibility. It is not by accident that both examples are closely related to what we might refer to as the reappearance of story telling or even the narrative turn in contemporary theatre.