Open Letter to the Austrian Parliamentary Deputy Dr. Andreas Khol
Unterzeichnet von C.T. und allen Gefangenen in Alessandria
Dear Mr Khol,
Together with other members of the "PublixTheatreCaravan / NoBorder - NoNation Tour", I have spent the last two weeks on remand in an Italian jail.
As a founder member of "Volxtheater Favoriten" I would like to point out to you that our project, which you too have now attempted to criminalise, goes back as far back as 1994. Works we have staged during this period as large-scale and successful music theatre productions include Brecht’s "Threepenny Opera", Dario Fo’s "We Can't Pay? We Won't Pay!", Kleist’s "Penthesilea", Heiner Müller’s "The Commission" and our own production "Schluss mit Lustig" ["That’s enough now"]. Besides arranging numerous Lieder evenings and small-scale performances, we have also, since 1995, been trying to get our message across via street theatre actions in public spaces under the title "Die schweigende Mehrheit" ["The silent majority"].
In the evening of Saturday, 4 August, in detention we received a copy of the daily Salzburger Nachrichten of 1 August, which quotes you, Mr Khol, as stating that "the (theatre) group, in the periodical ‘Tatblatt’ --- see below 1)---- , did endorse violent action" (?), and that there were "links to left-wing extremists and a close personal relationship with the Ebergassing --- see below 2)---- criminals".
Firstly, I would like to point out that so far we have never needed any conventional promotion via the press to be able to play to sold-out venues or to entertain hundreds of curious onlookers.
Even so, our work has been featured in numerous periodicals beside the ‘Tatblatt’, as well as radio programmes. Hardly ever was a secret made of the fact that in our performances we have also been addressing racism, nationalism, patriarchal structures or exploitative relationships. Or that we declared our opposition to deportation, pre-deportation detention and to the border regime in the context of "Fortress Europe", thus again and again explicitly confirming our opposition to the institutionalised every-day violence in our society.
Regarding your second accusation: On the one hand, it seems fairly irrelevant to me how you, Mr Khol, would define the term "left-wing extremism" (and whom you are trying to label thus. Whether dealing with post office staff or environmentalists, alternative schools, Burgtheater actors --- see below 3)---, squatters, data protection officials, trade unionists or political opponents, such terms come readily to hand when lashing out wildly in all directions.)
On the other hand, this does pose some personal questions. Even in my first few years in grammar school I was taught, in History, in what setting the term »Sippenhaftung« --- see below 4)--- inter alia played an important part: in National Socialism. I would certainly be interested to hear what education you have had, Mr Khol.
Would you like to know more about me? For example, that my father was finally persuaded, in the seventies, to stand in a municipal election, albeit in an unelectable position (twenty-seventh on the list, if I remember rightly)? Or that my mother has never been prepared to put up with any harassment or injustice, to her or to others, and has the courage of her convictions? That my brother, amongst other aspects, also was a wonderful human being? Or the colour of my children’s hair or skin?
You and some of your colleagues could surely do with a great deal more personal information in defaming a group of creative artists.
That’s how afraid you are of a small theatre initiative.
At any rate, we shall have to defend ourselves in Italian courts against construed accusations which, it seems, are based in part on suggestions from the Austrian authorities.
I am not afraid of that.
But in my dreams I am afraid when fascistoid policemen beat up people until they are willing to humiliate themselves utterly. And sometimes I am afraid of people like you, Mr Khol.
(Here in detention I do not have ready access to reliable legal information; nevertheless I remain hopeful of meeting you in court some day.)
With kind regards
1) A radical paper published in Vienna roughly fortnightly
2) In an apparent attempt to blow up an electricity pylon at Ebergassing some years ago, two activists were killed. The affair has never been resolved.
3) Burgtheater = Vienna State Theatre. Burgtheater actors (permanently employed) are therefore (normally) considered the epitome of respectability
4) Roughly translated: Collective liability. The group, family, race... is liable to be punished for the alleged misdeeds of any individual member