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  • Foto do escritorCarolina Franco

Peter Handke: A Return to Slovenian Roots in the play 'Tempestade Ainda'

The familiar atmosphere of Teatro Aberto makes the play ‘Tempestade Ainda’ [Storm Still] feel unusual. This play, which had its debut in 2011, challenges conventions by incorporating the writer, Peter Handke, as the protagonist – the character of ‘I’. Narration is a vital point in this epic dramatic writing, where Handke unites epic poetry with drama. He dives into his Slovenian roots and explores the reports of his ancestors during World War II in the mountainous region of Carinthia, Austria. 

This journey through time and memory appeals to the heart of the audience; The writer challenges the boundaries between reality and fiction, past and present, inviting the audience to reflect on their own roots and connections to history. Peter, the character-narrator, taking on the role of ‘I’, is confronted with the stories of his relatives on his mother’s side, who suffered under the Nazi yoke. The prohibition of speaking their language, the obligation to serve in the German army and the partisans’ resistance in the mountains are revealed through the voices of his grandparents, his mother, his sister, and his uncles. 

The play is formed between memorabilia, facts and fiction, paying tribute to Handke’s ancestors. At the same time, Handke illuminates certain events often obscured by History through self-discovery. The title derives from a quote from the stage directions of King Lear, by Shakespeare, 'Storm Still'. This title encapsulates the author’s vision of the continuity of the past in the present and of the persistence of the ancestral voices he seeks to make heard. After all, just as the Egyptians believe, people die twice. The first death is physical, when someone takes their last breath. That is, when the soul leaves the body. The second and final death is symbolic, when the deceased’s name is last pronounced. This leads into the topic of when a person is forgotten. They believe that this is the only way for the spirit to disappear – and whether it’s purposeful or not, Handke doesn’t want to allow his family’s spirit to disappear. So, he marks it in the audience’s mind. 

The theatre’s curtains fall and the echo of ancestral voices remains, reminding everyone that the storm of the past still resonates in the corridors of collective memory, ready to be heard by those who are willing to listen.

Translated by Sara Fernandes

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