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Name: Christine Rigler
[ book tip by Christine Rigler ] Peter Turrini’s play “Kindsmord” (“Infanticide”) was written in 1972 in the aftermath of a real case of child murder in Austria. A young woman from a middle-class background drowned her baby in the bath. Turrini visited this woman in prison and the institution where she was later transferred. He wanted to find out how she felt and understand the background.
With “Kindsmord”, the then 28 year-old author advanced to subjects that were as controversial as performances of his provocative plays “Rozznjagd” (première, 1971) and “Sauschlachten” (première, 1972). By taking up the case of a woman who neither claimed social deprivation nor material needs to justify her action, he exposed middle-class society to public debate. He tracked down patriarchal terror in a bourgeois milieu. This is not always manifested in physical violence, but apparently in more discreet forms of manipulation. The murder of an infant is the terrible background for this detective work, thus giving the project a sense of urgency.
Theoretically, literature in the early 1970s was long since emancipated from the requirement to vouch for the morality of fictional characters’ actions. The reactions to the play and the ensuing debate emphasized, however, that in practice the omission of any moral evaluation was highly criticized. And this was despite Turrini choosing a script based on a court case, where the audience is required to form an opinion. Yet the more practical societal solution is to cite reasons for individuals’ misconduct based on their personal lack of character, rather than the system. The emerging conflict between the middle class and the ideal of literature’s unmasking social grievances is characteristic of 1970s art and cultural production that was based on a political agenda for change.
Turrini’s play also ventured into another controversial area – 1970s feminism. As an author, he becomes an advocate for women’s repression, yet without overruling his male viewpoint. These approaches earned him not just praise, especially from women. Radical feminism at the time preferred to cast men as perpetrators, not as partners and certainly not as victims. While Turrini points out that this play was also concerned with him as well as his own stereotypical roles and identity problems, he calls into question this rigid feminist attitude.
The première of “Kindsmord” was on 11 March 1973 in two theatres and two different countries – at the Stadttheater in Klagenfurt and the Staatstheater in Darmstadt.
[ book info ] Turrini, Peter: Ein irrer Traum.
(Book language: Deutsch)
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