The trunk

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The trunk is the first full-length theater piece by the Austrian playwright Wolfgang Bauer . It was considered lost for more than five decades and was premiered posthumously on April 20, 2018 in the Akademietheater in Vienna under the direction of Christian Stückl .

Work history

The trunk is a full - length one - act act with eleven pictures. The author wrote the play in the summer of 1962, when he was just 21 years old. Even before it was fully published, he gave up his manuscript, "because he apparently did not attach too much importance to the work," suspects the cultural journalist Thomas Mießgang. Until his death in 2005, Bauer could not reconstruct the whereabouts. The work was considered lost.

A first written draft of a scene plan for Der Rüssel was found in a sketchbook by Bauer. The existence of the piece was proven in 1970 when the fourth picture was printed in the literary magazine Ver Sacrum, published by Otto Breicha . In 1987 it was included in the seven-volume Bauer edition of the Droschl Verlag . The editorial commentary on the first volume reads: “It cannot be completely ruled out that the manuscript may still be found.” According to Wolfgang Bauer, one copy went to Otto Breicha, another to the composer Diether de la Motte . However, it is not communicated when this should have happened. Even Alfred Kolleritsch said 2015 compared to the press that Wolfgang Bauer have always believed to have given the manuscript Breicha. According to the literary scholar Thomas Antonic, there are no references to the piece either in Otto Breicha's estate or in the archives of the journals he edited . An inquiry from the University of Vienna to the composer de la Motte as part of a research project on Bauer's work, estate and impact did not provide any clarification. De la Motte wrote in a letter to Droschl-Verlag that he “remembered the plan to set something by Bauer […] to music”, but not that he had owned the typescript . In the end, it is not known how the author lost his trunk .

Wolfgang Bauer's signature on the cover of the
Der Rüssel script

In February 2015 the curator of the Stadtmuseum in Leibnitz , Klaus Dieter Hartl, discovered the carbon copy of the typescript of the drama text with the dedication “For Stella Rehnmark” and a greeting to Alois Hergouth in the estate of the composer Franz Koringer . The undated entry on the cover of the manuscript, written with a typewriter, reads: “Dear Lois, please allow me to reply to your Christmas wishes with one of my writings. The warmest wishes yours [handwritten signature] ”. As is assumed today, Alois Hergouth received the text for the theater from Bauer and passed it on to Koringer, perhaps to suggest a possible setting. According to Jack Bauer, the author's son and estate administrator, the manuscript is not the original. Several copies were probably made. Both in Ver Sacrum and in the 1987 edition of the work, the piece is identified as a "comic tragedy", in the typescript found only as "tragedy". According to Antonic, this shows that there were at least two, possibly slightly different, versions. However, the text of the fourth image printed in Ver Sacrum is identical to the manuscript found in the Koringer estate.

Der Rüssel was published in full for the first time in March 2015 as a facsimile of the typescript in the literary magazine manuskripte , accompanied by a literary essay by Thomas Antonic (The Second Birth of the Elephant) and a linguistic-critical epilogue by Elfriede Jelinek (on Wolfgang Bauer's “Der Rüssel”) . On the tenth anniversary of Bauer's death, Antonic published the early work Der Rüssel in a volume with four other not yet listed pieces and microdramas. The Burgtheater secured the performance rights. The copyrights of the text lie with the family of Wolfgang Bauer, the manuscript itself remains in the possession of the Leibnitz City Museum.

According to Antonic, finding the piece is important for understanding other texts by Bauer, as some motifs can be found in the trunk that recur in later works. Due to its remarkable quality, it could in no way be described as a youth work. At the beginning of his career, Wolfgang Bauer's writing was shaped by the theater of the absurd . The trunk is the highlight of his works "with an absurd tendency, a mixture of the 'microdramas' and small early pieces", said Alfred Kolleritsch . Elfriede Jelinek dealt with the language of the play. Bauer worked out "sentences like arrows from something hard". "This piece is something in which everything is said perfectly logically and precisely, and yes," formed ", no matter who says it, but it's just sheer madness."


The setting is the living room of the Tilo farmer family in an alpine village. Grandfather Ulpian and grandmother Heloise pass the time together with the mayor Trauerstrauch and the village chaplain Wolkenflug playing a game of 17,000 cards. Meanwhile, the grandchildren Schoscho and Georg go hunting. The youngest grandson Florian with long red hair took after the late great-grandfather, who was a traveler to the tropics and after his return from the Congo was obsessed with the idea that an elephant could be born in the village. Florian is filled with continuing the work of his great-grandfather. He dreams of an exotic world, wishes for an elephant and seems to be endowed with supernatural powers, because suddenly the African tropics come over the village: palm trees sprout from the rocks, giant snails populate the surrounding area, the torrent gives birth to lightning and thunder an elephant that wedges its trunk in the window of the farmhouse and remains trapped there. The spirit of the great-grandfather proclaims: "The day 'Africa' has arrived!" It is getting hotter and hotter. The smart grocer Kuckuck delights the mountain people with a collection of loincloths and tropical helmets. Florian pretends to be the village chief and triumphs. The villagers revere the former outsider and follow his instructions, creating large quantities of egg dishes, dates and bananas every day for the trapped elephant, which now grow in the area. Your palm-overgrown mountain village should soon attract tourists, the press and the date industry. They are so busy taking care of the elephant that they forget to go to church on Sundays, which makes the chaplain the adversary of the elephant and Florian, whom he calls the "devil". After his wedding to Anna, Florian can be celebrated at a feast as a "guide" and asks the village population to be greeted with "Long live the great Florian and his elephant and Anna" from now on. The celebration ends with a shot: Wolkenflug shot the elephant. In revenge, Florian kills the chaplain and is lynched by the villagers.

Immediately after the birth of the elephant in the fifth picture, Bauer interrupts the chronology of the plot: In the sixth picture, Florian, who is hanged by the mob, dangles from a gallows. Anna praying under the gallows is harassed by grandfather Ulpian and seduced with shaving foam that tastes like whipped cream. The vultures shred Ulpian, who dies next to the gallows.

With the seventh picture, which begins on the village square overgrown with "lush foliage", the story continues chronologically. After Florian's death, the palm trees freeze to death and an icy wind blows through the village.

World premiere in the Akademietheater (Vienna)

For the production in the Akadamietheater, director Christian Stückl shortened Bauer's text, which had never been edited. Bauer had planned a break after the sixth picture. Stückl had the piece played in two hours without a break. A six-member Herrmann chapel accompanied the event with folk songs, hits and yodelling . Stückl changed the gallows scene into a crucifixion. The stage set designed Stefan Hagen eggs led a mountain range, whose foothills through the parlor. Stückl saw in the play the direct connection to the Volkstheater: “Seppl, Gretel - all the staff are there. As with Ludwig Ganghofer . "


Thomas Trenkler titled the piece in the Kurier as “snail ragout with palm salad” and referred to some serious changes made by the director and dramaturge of the production in the academy theater with regard to the current references: “They filled the absurd piece, in which Bauer of course not climate change and the Foreseeing migration from Africa with sense. ”However, in his literary essay, Thomas Antonic had already pointed out that Bauer also dealt with ecological problems of his time in his plays. In the trunk it is now global warming. In 2015, Thomas Götz called the play in Falter an “insane climate change theater”. “Under the impression of global warming, which was first widely discussed in the 1960s, the young playwright talks about a climatic metamorphosis that conjures up a tropical world out of the Alps.” Wolfgang Kralicek from the Süddeutsche Zeitung could not gain much from this interpretation . Mainly, "Africa's invasion of the Alps is just the grotesque framework of a political parable listed as a parody of the homeland ".

As a parody of the genre of the alpine folk play , "including the fatal mixture of traditional narrow-mindedness, authoritarian Catholicism and nonchalant sexual violence," commented Leopold Lippert in the night review . The word artist Bauer walks with his trunk "on the fine line between coarse folk theater and post-Dadaist joke", said Thomas Mießgang in Die Zeit . “The Alpine Midsummer Night's Dream bluntly crosses farmer's farce with absurd theater and looks as if someone wanted to translate a delirium tremens into a theater text.” Ute Baumhackl described it in the Kleine Zeitung as “juicy fun about elephants, snails and the effect of the Outside world on a crumbling order ”.

"This type of magic theater could have been thought of by Eugène Ionesco and Ferdinand Raimund together", wrote Ronald Pohl in the Standard and criticized the "less daring spirit" of the staging of Stückl, in which the traditional folk plays still prevail. But at the same time the climate of a tremendous upheaval is "richly ominous" in the air. “The valley heats up - with it the mountains -, thunder smashes the dialogues, and as the mood warms up, the alpine folk gradually get out of their skin. The mayor ( Falk Rockstroh ) even speaks in the Carinthian Janker like a Thuringian AfD functionary. The chaplain ( Markus Meyer ) gives an eager Tartuffe of the Alps. They all more or less hysterically perceive the signs of a turning point, which one still cannot grasp with hands. ”The reviewer found the premiere in the Akademietheater“ rather puny ”. The genius Wolfgang Bauer should not be prevented from enjoying the fame.

Direction team and cast

Direction, equipment, lighting Actresses actor
Christian Stückl staging
Stefan Hagen eggs Sets and costumes
Herbert Markl light
Tom Wörndl music
Hans Mrak dramaturgy
Barbara Petritsch Heloise Tilo, grandmother
Stefanie Dvorak Kellerbirn Anna
Branko Samarovski Ulpian Tilo, grandfather
Sebastian Wendelin Florian Tilo, grandson
Simon Jensen Schoscho Tilo, grandson
Christoph Radakovits Gregor Tilo, grandson
Falk Rockstroh Mrauerstrauch, Mayor
Markus Meyer Wolkenflug, chaplain
Peter Matić Kuckuck, grocer
Dirk Nocker Willenmantel, reporter


Wolfgang Bauer: The trunk (2018)
  • The trunk . In: Ver sacrum , 2 (1970), ZDB -ID 282108-4 , p. 41 f.
  • The trunk . Sessler, Vienna / Munich 1984, OCLC 709617550 (scope: III + 6 pages, reproduced as a manuscript ).
  • The trunk. Fourth picture from the comic tragedy in 11 pictures . In: Wolfgang Bauer: Works in seven volumes . Edited by Gerhard Melzer. Vol. 1: One-act plays and early dramas . With an afterword by Manfred Mixner. Droschl, Graz / Wien 1987, ISBN 3-85420-126-5 , pp. 129-135 (shown as a fragment in the table of contents ).
  • The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur , Issue 207, 1/2015, ISSN  0025-2638 , pp. 5-75.
  • The trunk. Scenic texts from the estate , edited and provided with an afterword by Thomas Antonic , Ritter Verlag, Graz / Klagenfurt 2015, ISBN 978-3-85415-530-0 , pp. 7-109

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Anne-Catherine Simon: Dramenfund: “Wolfi was always looking for it!” , Die Presse, February 18, 2015
  2. a b c Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, p. 78
  3. a b c Thomas Mießgang: Africa is here! , ZEIT Austria No. 17/2018, April 19, 2018, online April 23, 2018
  4. a b Wolfgang Kralicek: Lost & Found: An elephant is mistaken , in: Theater heute November 2015, p. 71
  5. ^ Appendix to the first volume of the work edition by Wolfgang Bauer: Works in seven volumes . Edited by Gerhard Melzer. Vol. 1: One-act plays and early dramas . Droschl, Graz / Vienna 1987, page 299
  6. Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, pp. 83/84
  7. Thomas Antonic: The third birth of the elephant . Epilogue , in: Wolfgang Bauer: The trunk. Scenic texts from the estate , 2015, p. 267
  8. Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, p. 84
  9. Lost Bauer manuscript surfaced , ORF Landesstudio Steiermark, February 20, 2015
  10. Reinhard Kager : When Africa comes to the Alps , Deutschlandfunk Kultur , April 20, 2018
  11. Thomas Sessler Verlag : Wolfgang Bauer DER RÜSSEL , accessed on May 13, 2018
  12. Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, p. 85 fn7
  13. Contents of the manuscript magazine for literature, issue 207/2015,
  14. a b Ronald Pohl: Theater safari in the Styrian Alps , Der Standard, February 17, 2015
  15. Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, pp. 82/83
  16. ^ A b Hermann Götz: Climate change for Wolfgang Bauer , FALTER 35/15
  17. Elfriede Jelinek: On Wolfgang Bauer's "The trunk" . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, p. 86
  18. a b Wolfgang Kralicek: An elephant is late , Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 23, 2018, features section, p. 10
  19. Thomas Trenkler: Wolfgang Bauer's "Der Rüssel": snail ragout with palm salad , (, April 21, 2018)
  20. Thomas Antonic: The second birth of the elephant . To Wolfgang Bauer's The trunk . In: manuscripts . Zeitschrift für Literatur, 207 / March 2015, p. 81
  21. ^ Leopold Lippert: A toast with (dis-) harmonic sounds ,, April 20, 2018
  22. ^ Ute Baumhackl: Bauer's early work. An elephant makes many things possible , Kleine Zeitung, April 18, 2018
  23. Ronald Pohl: Wolfgang Bauer's "The trunk": An elephant path , Der Standard, April 21, 2018