Werner Schwab

Werner Schwab
© Literaturverlag Droschl

Sagen Sie es ruhig noch peinlicher.

Werner Schwab

Werner Schwab was born in 1958. He was an Austrian playwright and visual artist. During the 1980s he worked as a sculptor and woodcutter. Schwab’s first play Die Präsidentinnen was produced at the theater in the Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1990. Between then and his death four years later in 1994  he wrote sixteen plays, eight of which were produced during his lifetime, making his career one of the briefest, most spectacular and most controversial in contemporary German-language theatre.

The line »Schwab – the genius, monster, creep« (German weekly Die Zeit) was among the common reactions Schwab’s provocations were met with. Written in the new and unheard-of Schwabian dialect, they launched an attack on culture and wiped away every last trace of sublimation. A painfully contorted language ravages his texts, sometimes exaggerated, then expressive, but at all times insane and funny. If in this language nothing is set in stone or sacred, it respects one thing at least: pointing out that »everything is ridiculous when you think of life«.
Schwab’s work tends to be extremely scatological, full of images of surreal violence and degradation, and his texts exploit the German language’s capacity for neologism to a remarkable degree; they are also firmly within a native Austrian tradition of Black comedy. Certain stylistic parallels might be drawn between his work and that of Steven Berkoff and Enda Walsh.

Schwab’s oeuvre includes the plays Die Präsidentinnen (The Presidents, 1990), Übergewicht, unwichtig: Unform. Ein europäisches Abendmahl (1991), Volksvernichtung oder meine Leber ist sinnlos (1991), Mein Hundemund (1992), Mesaillance aber wir ficken uns prächtig (1992), Der Himmel mein Lieb meine sterbende Beute (1992), Offene Gruben und offene Fenster. Ein Fall von Ersprechen (1992), Pornogeographie. Sieben Gerüchte (1993), Endlich tot, endlich keine Luft mehr (1994), Mariedl/Antiklima(x) (1994), Mein Brustkorb: Mein Helm (1994), Troilluswahn und Cressidatheater (1995), Eskalation ordinär. Ein Schwitzkastenschwank in sieben Affekten (Escalation: obscene, 1995), the novel Joe Mc Vie alias Josef Thierschädl (1988, 2007), In harten Schuhen (In Sturdy Shoes, 1999) und Abfall Bergland Cäsar (Agony Bushland, Caesar, 2008).