by Matei Visniec
An absurdist journey through three centuries of war and destruction: It’s 1699. A Son leaves his anxious Mother to go off to war. His Mother is informed of his mysterious death by a mysterious Messenger bearing red carnations. It’s 1745. A Father, in a wheel-chair, and his Daughter banter bitterly, in the same kitchen. The Father goes off to his bedroom and the mysterious Messenger appears, again with red carnations, to inform her that her Father has gone mad fighting in battle. It’s 1815. In the same kitchen, a Husband/Soldier is dressing for battle as the Wife prepares the table for a sumptuous meal as he recreates the battle on the dining room table and rushes off to the war. The same Messenger arrives, carnations in hand, to report his death by trampling. As he recounts the waste of the Husband leading his soldiers to battle & then trampled to death by them in their fervor, a rain of boots fall on the Wife and ever-returning Messenger, who reveals he is the ever-dying soldier.
Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.
Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.
Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.
The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood.