Angelika Betzold writes on… “The Death of the King”

February 25, 2016 | Home | Modern Times In Depth | The Death of the King

TIME TIME! “In the beginning there was no Beginning And in the end, no End …” (Christopher Logue)   It seems to be a prevalent view that theatre is political when a play treats current political problems or when an old play is set in the tedium of, let’s say, a local convenience store. In his play, “The Death of the King”, Bahram Beyza’ie has done neither; the story is set in a mill in the city of Merv in 651 CE and draws on a historical event: The assassination of King Yazdgird III supposedly committed by the miller. And yet, it seems to be an absolute contemporary play and current political reflection. But maybe it is more accurate to say that it is a timeless play and therefore inhabited by a political urgency of a very different kind. In order to explain this statement and why I regard it as important, I want to turn away from Beyza’ie’s play for a moment. When asked about the specific setting of one of his short stories, Jorge Luis Borges once replied that it is not advisable to reveal a specific place or say that a story takes place in the present. Instead he thought that, in order to keep the freedom of imagination, a certain distance in time and space is necessary. It seems to me that with his remark, Borges asked simultaneously for something else: namely for an active reader whom he – who regarded himself, first and foremost as a reader – may have simply assumed as a given. But I think it is worth mentioning more explicitly that such literature needs a reader who dares to follow the imagination and who takes it over like a baton in order to bring it back to his or her lived …

Peter FarbridgeAngelika Betzold writes on… “The Death of the King”