Ein Berg, viele (UA)

by Magdalena Schrefel
//Winning play of the 2020 Kleist Advancement Award for young Dramatists

This course of the river can’t be right. In a study crowded with stacks of records and measurements, every little detail must be included in the accumulating map. The geographer is at his wits’ end and so is his entire household. In order to make sense of a bend in the river Niger on the African continent, he postulates a natural obstacle. From the distance of old Europe, he enters a fictitious mountain range called “Kong” into his map, filling its final blank spot. The distant country has now been surveyed. The map has outlined an image and created a scientific tool for travelling. The geographer soon becomes famous. There’s just one thing: Not a single journey confirms a sighting of the Kong Mountains. And yet, the European gaze continues to dominate even when there can no longer be any doubt in the field.

In a different time, a young female documentary film maker sets out for “Mountain Kong”. At the gates of this fictional state, she runs into Ismael. Even though the border guard refuses her entry into his strange country, meeting him becomes the central encounter of her research. In these two characters, an interest in the supposedly Other and the hope for the promised continent of Europe collide. Together, they look at the world as it lays before them. Which does not mean that they always see the same thing. Until finally, turbulent conditions at the country’s borders reveal the kind of separating line that runs between them.

A scenic landscape emerges from these superimposed narrative threads between Africa and Europe, spanning wide temporal and cultural distances. The characters living in this landscape are seekers. They are negotiating varying strategies of surveying, and ultimately understanding their world. In doing so, they challenge the implicitness of existing norms and regulations. As a consequence, they are confronted with the collapse of their own thought mountains – an experience that is liberating and painful in equal measure.

Magdalena Schrefel received the 2020 Kleist Advancement Award for young Dramatists for “Ein Berg, viele”. This is the 25th edition of this award for emerging authors, which is bestowed by the city of Frankfurt (Oder), Dramaturgische Gesellschaft and Kleist Forum Frankfurt (Oder) and entails a world premiere production.  “With her dramatic positing”, the Viennese author manages, as the jury states, “to reveal the construction of borders, whether they are geographic, political or ideological. She questions what their benefits may be and who established them, and describes how illusory worlds and authorities are created. In order to achieve this, Magdalena Schrefel superimposes contemporary, historical and fictitious references. At the same time, along her wide range of linguistic colours, the potential of common lines to describe the world and formulate utopian ideas is revealed.”

Magdalena Schrefel’s Leipzig debut is also an introduction to director Pia Richter. Apart from presenting her work at the Salzburg “Young Actors’ Week”, the “Your Chance”-festival in Moscow, “Körber Studio Junge Regie” in Hamburg and “Summer UP” at Theater Heidelberg, she has created productions at Landestheater Schwaben, Landestheater Tübingen, Theater Regensburg and Theater Koblenz.
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Playwright: Magdalena Schrefel
Director: Pia Richter
Stage Designer & Costume Designer: Julia Nussbaumer
Dramaturgy: Marleen Ilg
Light Design: Thomas Kalz
Theatre pedagogy: Babette Büchele