Ben Robinson introduced us to Teresa Kovacs in his “Letter from the Chair,” now let’s hear from her herself: “Two years ago, I was asked at roundtable on the future of Austrian Studies what had aroused my interest in Austrian theatre and literature. Whereas my dialogue partners at the roundtable expressed their admiration of Austria’s rich culture and history, my honest answer was that my disapproval of this country evoke my devotion for what I am working on today: contemporary theatre, performance, and literature. Growing up in Austria and experiencing the problems caused by a belated remembrance culture and the rapid rise of the far-right Freedom Party, authors and directors like Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, and Christoph Schlingensief were for me what for other teenagers had been the Beatles, Sex Pistols, or Rage Against the Machine: they stood for protest and dissent. Their plays and performances not just deconstructed the myths that shaped Austria, but they also successfully interrupted the public discourse. Jelinek’s play Burgtheater (1985) shed light on continuities of Nazi-ideology in Austria on the example on the actress Paula Wessely, Thomas Bernhard’s play Heldenplatz (1988) made an end to Austria’s claim of being the first victim of Nazi-Germany, and Christoph Schlingensief asked with his Big Brother-based “Containeraktion” Please Love Austria! (2000) how xenophobia and antisemitism will express themselves in a country ruled by the far-right Freedom party and the conservative People’s Party.
My early engagement with theatre and literature made me finally decide to study German Philology as well as Theater-, Film- und Media Studies at the University of Vienna, where I simultaneously had the opportunity to work as a researcher at the “Elfriede Jelinek Research Center” for nearly ten years. I wrote my dissertation on Jelinek’s concept of “secondary drama.” A genre, invented by the author herself, which must be staged with the primary texts they base on: Lessing’s Nathan der Weise und Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Urfaust. Besides my dissertation, I edited a number of books on specific plays by Jelinek, but also within the field of theatre theory. Most recently, I have published a book on Postdramatic Theatre as Transcultural Theatre (with Koku Nonoa), currently I am working on the Schlingensief-Handbuch, which will be published by Metzler. Thanks to my ongoing interest in theatre theory and form, my main focus at the moment lies on my second monograph, which seeks to describe theatre in time of liquid modernity. In this book, I will think of theatre and performance as ruinous landscapes, and I will do this on the example of Heiner Müller, Elfriede Jelinek, René Pollesch, Heiner Goebbels, Dimiter Gotscheff and others.
Additionally, I continue to work as a dramaturg. My most current project Murakami by the Sea (directed by Tzveta Kassabova) that premiered in April 2019 at the University of Michigan will tour to Europe in summer 2020.”