«The Last Melancholic»

About Jon Fosse and the possibility of the tragedy today
by Thomas Oberender


(…) I was really astonished, when I saw a play of Fosse, Winter, in three different countries: Swizzerland, Germany and Greece – and, in a certain way, I saw the same production, three times. The similarities even extended to details  of how characters were led, their attitudes, I thought I saw a Model Play, you know this term from the Brecht theatre. But in a literal sense of Brecht’ model plays they are very different. The difference being that Fosse’s plays are not didactical demonstrations. Fosse’s plays display the human struggle with our simply being in the world. Our ineventable fall into guilt. And our confrontation with our own mortality and the alifeness of the dead. All of this on a rather more fundamental ontological lever. And allthough the plays themselves tend to conceal this, they are deeply rooted in the social situation of their characters, while at same time revealing the metaphysical issue that lies within. (..) 

His dialogues creates a gap, a void, which we have to fulfill with the other half. When I think about this problem, why it is so difficult to remeber the text, I think it is in relation to the miracle of rememberance itself, because usually we remember things we have found a solution for. And actors need a long time because they can only create the solution in the interaction; not the solistiv reaction in respect to the text itself. So the text is only the half thing. And it is really painful to watch how they learn the text. But the set designers, actors and directors are put into high gir by Jon Fosse’s texts. And this remarkable. They do things they never expected to do before the work started. This kind of text forces artists to develope something that is very personal, very connected with imagination and something that does not happen all the time in the theatre.

And I cheerish these plays, because they aret he plays of the last melancholic endurers, as W.G. Sebald, in sense of melancholy means on the stage of our times. And so, I think that this phrase of melancholy really needs to be discussed, if you speak about Jon Fosse. It means more than sadness. Jon Fosse told me once that he became a writer because he got ”the gift of sadness”. This is a quote from Ibsen, and real interesting connection between both artists. (…)