THE MAIN DISCUSSION SITE
"The first casualty of war is language," Peter once said.
If I were to state the theme of this new play, I would add that the first casualty of war, as also the first casualty of peace, is language.
Michael has laid out the plot in an admirably straightforward way. The plot / Handlung / what happens is exactly as he writes, from act 1 through act 5 (they read like chapters rather than acts in the book of the play).
My response is to point to another structure or set of structures at the heart (or spleen) of the play.
Language is the topic that dominates the play. From the first musings of the character named "ich" (and the quotation marks point out that even he is a creation of language) to the last line of the play, language is the question:
"Eine Heide, eine Steppe, eine Heidesteppe, oder wo." / A heath, a steppe, a heathensteppe, or where. (. . . a heathsteppe . . . A moor, a steppe, a moorsteppe. . .)
The first sentence, then, is a question without a question mark. It includes a probing neologism. In short, it draws attention to itself as language.
The main character, on this line of thinking, is the Slovene language spoken by a Slovene minority in southern Austria.
It could be any language spoken by any minority (Athabaskan, for instance, in Alaska, as the penultimate scene of the play points out).
But it is Austria, a Carinthian village, and so the language is Slovene.
The enemy in this play about Austro-Slovene partisans is the dominant German-speaking culture that oppresses the Slovene language. What will be won, ostensibly, when the war is over, is the right to speak Slovene.
It's a battle, of course, that was fought before the Germans ever came to town; and it's a battle that must be fought after they are sent packing.
Thus the title: Still Storm / Immer noch Sturm. It's a Shakespearean stage direction (Still Storm) that in the German, especially with the middle "noch" not capitalized, reads as "always . . . storm."
The first casualty of war, as of peace, is language.
Much more to come. I'll end this first post with a section of a book by my friend Alex Caldiero. The book is called "Sonosuono" and is a meditation on the Sicilian language and culture that gave birth to Alex and nurtured him until he was reborn, for better and worse, at the age of 9 in his new land of Brooklyn: