Das Philoktet-Syndrom

by Milo Rau
Director: Milo Rau
World Premiere

Milo Rau wurde zum Intendanten der Wiener Festwochen berufen. Um seinen Vorbereitungspflichten für seine Intendanz nachzukommen, muss die Produktion »Das Philoktet-Syndrom« aus zeitlichen Gründen leider entfallen. Wir bedauern dies, freuen uns aber sehr über seine Berufung und gratulieren herzlich!

War photographers spend their careers documenting various conflict zones around the world. They are tragic figures, messengers who are permanently confronted with questions of guilt and inaction. One such photographer, who captured iconic images from Srebrenica to Mostar and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the focus of this play. She is a member of the class of global citizens – and a »capitalist of suffering«. The depiction of violence to which her work contributes finally plunges her into a crisis of her own. She suffers from what we shall call the »Philoctetes Syndrome«: a post-traumatic disorder, an inability to cope with the experience of violence. This former supreme icon of war photography now lives the life of a recluse – like the fallen, wounded, sleepless Greek hero Philoctetes:

»Why do we need a photographer when any idiot can take ten pictures a second on their iPhone? What happens to us, to the world, to art, when we behold the suffering of others and profit from it? What does it mean to bear witness?«

»The Philoctetes Syndrome«, in which Ursina Lardi appears on stage as a traumatised war photographer, gazes into the abyss and contemplates the loneliness, cynicism and wisdom of a human being who has seen everything. In a similar way to Philoctetes, who was left behind alone on an island by his companions, anger at her own isolation escalates into disgust. Thus, »The Philoctetes Syndrome« leads to a vehement rejection of the emotional and actual economy of the depiction of violence. The outcasts see through the cynical game that they have been part of for so long and recognise it for what it truly is.

But a new war is brewing: »Events from the prehistory of humanity that is still taking place in large parts of the world« (as Heiner Müller said about his »Philoktet«) force the protagonist back into the hostilities. Can a photographer influence a conflict as Philoctetes did with his infallible bow in the Trojan War? Is there a final image of war that will end war?

Director: Milo Rau
Author: Milo Rau
Stage and Costume Designer: Anton Lukas
Video: Moritz von Dungern
Dramaturg and Research: Carmen Hornbostel / Martín Valdés-Stauber
Lighting Designer: Erich Schneider

With: Ursina Lardi

Unfortunately this production has to be cancelled