Voyage to the Sonorous Land, or The Art of Asking (play)

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Date: 2006

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Theatre Public Art


Handke.jpg

Artist: Peter Handke, Austrian playwright (b. 1942)

Confronting Bodies: Marcel Bozonnet, administrator of Comedie-Francaise in Paris

Date of Action: April, 2006

Location: Paris, France

Description of Artwork: Handke's play, Voyage to the Sonorous Land, or The Art of Asking was scheduled by the Comedie Francaise to be performed at the Vieux-Colombier from January 17 - February 24, 2007. The play was to be directed by Bruno Bayen and all the actors were already selected.

The Incident: Bozonnet decided to cancel Handke's play after Handke delivered a speech at Slobodan Milosevic's funeral in March of 2006. Bozonnet claims the cancellation of the play was not an act of censorship. Others, including Elfriede Jelinek, Austrian writer and Nobel Prize winner, disagree, claiming that the cancellation of the play acted as a censor. Bozonnet first learned of Handke's participation in Milosevic's funeral from an article published in the French magazine, Nouvel Observateur. The magazine printed a statement including a letter written by Handke discussing factual discrepancies present in the original article. Bozzonet claims that his decision to cancel Handke's play was not based soley on the Nouvel Observateur article. The article firt allerted him to Handke's attendance and participation in Milosevic's funeral. He later read a German article that explained Handke's reasons for going to the funeral: to be "with Yugoslavia, with Serbia, with Slobodan Milosevic." Bozonnet also claimed that he confirmed that Milosevic was found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); however, ICTY never found Milosevic guilty of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Results of Incident: The play was not produced by the Comedie Francaise.

Source: New York Time; Swans Commentary, www.swans.com