All things are well with asylum processes and rights in my home country, are they not? This, at any rate, is often the official government line. Of course it all depends whose side you are on. The current performances by Theaterkollektiv Hybrid on Vienna´s Judenplatz in cooperation with Werk X-Petersplatz, pitch the side of the (fictitious) official government representatives, against the side of human rights defenders and witnesses.
Asyl Tribunal – Klage gegen die Republik (Asylum Tribunal – The Case against the Republic), is a staged public court case by Theaterkollektiv Hybrid in cooperation with Werk X-Petersplatz, directed by Alireza Daryanavard. Based on actual occurrences in Austria, this symbolic tribunal questions and looks at the justices and injustices of the Austrian asylum system. In a multi-day show process, the State and the Defense make their case in front of an audience and in front of a fictitious tribunal of judges (if only our courts really looked like this in terms of composition of judges!). The problems being discussed are real, the setting is theatrical. A series of suspenseful evenings in Vienna´s Judenplatz, open air and freely accessible to all.
Thanks to the collaboration of asylum experts and lawyers, this piece comes very close to real life. We all read again and again in the newspapers about cases of seemingly unreasonable deportations of asylum seekers, injustices, judgments in which human rights are hardly observed – here in our wealthy country, where one would think that one could afford a generous asylum policy. The problem is complex, factors such as racism in the broadest and closest sense play a major role.
I had a chance to see and photograph the third evening of the stage trial, and I found it a very well directed and staged performance with poignant themes around justice, illegal pushbacks, the Geneva Convention and the European Human Rights Convention.
It is probably not a coincidence that the piece was staged on the Judenplatz, with the Holocaust memorial in the background, even if the topic appears to have nothing to do with it at first glance. But actually it has. It is about which human lives we want to save, whom we tolerate among us. And whom we´d rather not.
From behind, the statue of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, famous German poet of the Enlightenment, watches with bemusement. Lessing was primarily committed to the idea of tolerance in his dramas and theoretical writings that remain as current today as they were in his time.
The next rounds of negotiations of the tribunal vs. the State will take place this evening, and the pronouncement of the judgment on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. If you have a chance, check out one of the final performances of this production. It is thoughtful and also quite sad brainfood.
The play is being translated simultaneously into Farsi and Arabic, the streams can be viewed online during the piece. Admission is free! Clear recommendation!
Incidentally, there is again an Instawalk with Instagramers Vienna today, after which the participants have a chance to watch the play.
This was (only) the second time I saw a play produced in collaboration with Werk X-Petersplatz, and I hope many more will follow.
More about the play on the theatre Werk-X website.
All photos © Karin Svadlenak-Gomez
P.S. I have to say it – “free advertising”, I am not getting paid by anybody to write this.