The proverbial “clash of civilizations” is a frequent topic for panel discussions all over the world, their outcome as predictable as it is self-confirming. Such discussions provide material for the latest piece by Ivan Vyrypaev, a Russia-born, Warsaw-based playwright and director known for his provocative questioning of the basic notions of western consumerist society. In this dramatized, scripted panel discussion set in the auditorium of the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, the usual suspects meet to discuss the “Iran issue,” or as one of Vyrypaev’s characters puts it, the clash between “Allah and Coca-Cola.” An expert on international relations, a theology professor, a journalist-provocateur, a human rights activist, the Prime Minister’s wife, and others all appear to present their opposing accounts of the difference between religious traditionalism and humanist rationalism. Their philosophical debates on freedom, knowledge, and the very definition of the human being are crisscrossed with all-too-personal exchanges, anecdotes, and ad hominem arguments. The only possible consensus is one of contradictory viewpoints as to the value of western society or the lack thereof. In the end, these explicitly western characters meet the “other” they have been constructing in the person of an Iranian poet and Nobel Prize laureate, who confounds and confirms their expectations. Vyrypaev’s acerbic drama thus attests to how ideological frontlines are drawn today, through contradictory stereotypes and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Produced by WEDA in coproduction with Aksenov Family Foundation, MIA Group, and Fundacja Sztuki Kreatywna Przestrzeń in collaboration with steirischer herbst
With the kind support of Aksenov Family Foundation
Cast in order of appearance: Krzysztof Kumor as Philipp Rasmussen, Juliusz Chrząstowski as Daniel Christensen, Richard Berkeley as Oliver Larsen, Philipp Mogilnitskiy as Magnus Tomsen, Agata Buzek as Astrid Petersen, Magdalena Górska as Emma Schmidt-Poulsen, Mariusz Zaniewski as Gustav Jensen, Redbad Klynstra-Komarnicki as Father Augustine, Patrycja Soliman as Shirin Shirazi
Director: Ivan Vyrypaev
Stage designer: Karolina Bramowicz
Costume designer: Maria Duda
Music: Jacek Jędrasik
2nd director: Michał Rogalski
Sound and light operator: Michał Tatara
Creative producer: Piotr Duda
Translation: Cazimir Liske, Boris Wolfson (English), Stefan Schmidtke (German)
Translation voices: Lorenz Kabas, Martina Zinner
Ivan Vyrypaev (1974, Irkutsk, Russia) is an actor, director, and writer whose plays and films hover between documentary and experimental theater, controversially probing boundaries of political correctness. In 2014, he relocated from Moscow to Warsaw, where he now lives.