Felix Mitterer - In the Lions’ Den and The Panther
Felix Mitterer’s reputation as a European dramatist of the first rank is by now firmly established. With his gift for sketching social milieu in a few salient strokes and creating almost unbearably intense moments of dramatic suspense, he has for over thirty years been riveting the attention of viewers on the suffering of such oppressed groups as the aged (Siberia), the mentally challenged (No Room for Idiots) and the workingmen and women in thrall to corrupt corporations (One Everyman). The two plays offered here, In the Lions’ Den and The Panther, fall well within the purview of Mitterer’s social concerns, portraying as they do, respectively, the plight of the Jews in the Third Reich and, once again, the aged in contemporary society. Yet they also reveal a deeper and more personal thematic vein having to do with the intimate symbiosis of language and individual identity. In Lions’ Den the Jewish protagonist Kirsch affects Tyrolean dialect to create an Aryan persona for survival purposes. You are what you can persuade others you are, and God help you if your powers of persuasion fail you! In The Panther the old man’s self-image, his very sense of himself, erodes with the chipping-away of age at his memory of the lines that make up Rilke’s immortal Dinggedicht. In both plays the bedrock ordering of experience imposed by language is strained to the breaking point, leaving the protagonists teetering on the brink of the abyss that looms just beyond personal identity.
Of his own life the self-effacing Felix Mitterer has said: “Its only unusual aspect is that I became a writer, that I was saved and others weren’t.” His words allude obliquely to the grinding poverty and backbreaking work he had to endure laboring on the farms of the Tyrol as he grew up. They also convey his solidarity with those “others” who could not make it out of the Alpine ghetto and suggest his deep commitment to make their plight, and that of other oppressed groups, the driving force of his dramatic art. Felix Mitterer has done what all true artists do, transformed his personal demons into angels of art. And in tracing, through that art, the correspondence between his own demons and those of society, he masters them, not only in himself but in the receptive viewer (or reader) as well.
- Author: Felix Mitterer
- Title: In the Lions’ Den and The Panther
- Binding: Paperback
- Translation by: Victoria Martin, Mike Lyons, Patrick Drysdale, Dennis McCort
- Edited by: Dennis McCort
- Afterword by: Gerd K. Schneider
- Preface by: Felix Mitterer
- Publishing House: Ariadne Press
- Pages: 209
- ISBN: 978-1-57241-180-7