Turrini, Peter 1944-

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TURRINI, Peter 1944-

PERSONAL: Born September 26, 1944, in St. Margarethen/Carinthia, Austria.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Lucherhand Publishing House, Widenmayerstrasse 5, D-80538 Munich, Germany.

CAREER: Playwright and novelist. Also worked as a steelworker and woodworker, hotel manager, and advertising copywriter.

AWARDS, HONORS: Gerhardt Haputmann prize, Freie Volksbühne, 1981.


Rozznjogd (play; title means "Rat Hunt", produced in Vienna, Austria at Volkstheater, 1971), translation published as Chasing down Rats, Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1979.

Zero Zero: Ein Kunst-Stuck (play), produced in Vienna, Austria at Theater an der Wien, 1971.

Erlebnisse in der Mundhöhle (novel), Rowohlt (Reinbeck, Germany), 1972.

Sauschlachten (play; title means "Slaughter of the Sow"; produced in Munich, Germany, 1972), Lentz (Vienna, Austria), 1974.

Der tollste Tag: Frei nach Beaumarchais (play; title means "The Craziest Day"), produced in Darmstadt, Germany at Landestheater, 1972.

Kindsmord (play), produced in Klagenfurt, Germany at Stadttheater, 1973.

Die Wirtin: Frei nach Goldoni (play; title means "The Innkeeper's Wife"; produced in Nuremberg, Germany at Schauspielhaus, 1973), Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1978.

Phonoptical: Terror (play), produced in Villach, Germany at Studiobüne, 1974.

(With Wilhelm Pevny) Der Dorfschullehrer, Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1975.

Turrini Lesebuch: Stücke, Pamphlete, Filme, Reaktionen etc., Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1978, 2nd edition published as Turrini Lesebuch: Zwei Stücke, Film, Gedichte, Reaktionen, etc., Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1983.

Josef und Maria (play; produced in Vienna, Austria at Volkstheater, 1980), Frisfleisch und Löwenmaul (Vienna, Austria), 1980.

(With Wilhelm Pevny) Alpensaga: Eine sechsteilige Fernsehserie aus dem bäuerlichen Leben (three volumes; title means "The Saga of the Alps"; based on Die Alpensaga television series), Residenz (Salzburg, Germany), 1980.

Ein paar Schritte zurück: Gedichte (poetry), Autorenedition (Munich, Germany), 1980.

(With others) Bruno Kreisky, Nicolai (Berlin, Germany), 1981.

Die Bürger (play; title means "The Citizens"; produced in Vienna, Austria at Volkstheater, 1982), Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1982.

Campiello: Frei nach Goldoni (play; produced in Vienna, Austria at Volkstheater, 1982), Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1982.

(With Käthe Kratz) Jugend: Buch zum film "Atemnot," Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1984.

Es ist ein gutes Land: Text zu Anlässen, Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1986.

Faust III: Eine Komödie, teils teils (play), produced in Vienna, Austria at Theater Nero im Theater im Künstelerhaus, 1987.

Die Minderleister (play; title means "The Underachievers"; produced in Vienna, Austria, at Akademietheater, 1988), Europaverlag (Vienna, Austira), 1988.

(With Rudi Palla) Die Verlockung, Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1988.

Mein Österrich: Reden, Polemiken, Aufsätze, Luchter-hand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1988.

(With Rudi Palla) Müllomania: Ein Drehbuch, Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1988.

(With Rudi Palla) Das Plakat: Ein Drehbuch, Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1990.

Tod und Teufel (play), Luchterhand (Frankfurt, Germany), 1990.

Peter Turrini: Texte, Daten, Bilder, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1991.

Alpenglühen: ein Stück, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1992, translation published as Alpine Glow, Aridne Press (Riverside, CA), 1994.

In Namen der Liebe (poetry), Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1993.

Grillparzer im Pornoladen (play), produced in Berlin, Germany at Berliner Ensemble, 1993.

Die Schlacht um Wien: Schauspiel in dri Akten, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1995.

(With others) Liebe Mörder!: von der Gegenwart, dem Theater und vom lieben Gott, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1996.

(With Walter Baco) Literatalk: Worte über Wort, Albatros (Vienna, Austria), 1996.

(With others) Aufbruch aus der Dunkelheit: Hilfe in der Depression: eine Dokumentation, Ibera & Molden (Vienna, Austria), 1997.

Endlich Schluß: Ein Monolog (monologue), produced in Vienna, Austria at Akademietheater, 1998.

Die Liebe in Madagaskar: Theaterstück, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1998.

Die Verhaftung des Johann Nepomuk Nestroy: Eine Novelle, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1998.

(With others) Lesebuch 1: Ein irrer Traum, Luchter-hand (Hamburg, Germany), 1999.

Lesebuch 2: Das Gegenteil ist wahr, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1999.

Lesebuch 3: Zu Hause bin ich nur hier: am Theater, Luchterhand (Hamburg, Germany), 1999.

Kasino, ein Tanzspiel (play), produced in Vienna, Austria at Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz, 2000.

Die Eröffnung (play), produced in Bochum, Germany at Schauspielhaus, 2000.

Ich liebe dieses land. Stück und Materialien, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 2001.

Contributor to Spectaculum 51: sechs moderne Theaterstücke, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1991. Works have been translated in The Slackers and Other Plays, translated by Richard Dixon, Ariadne Press, 1992, and Shooting Rats, Other Plays and Poems, translated by Richard Dixon, Ariadne Press (Riverside, CA), 1996. Author's works have been translated into twenty languages.

SIDELIGHTS: A sedate night out at the theater is not part of Peter Turrini's plan for his audiences. Instead, the playwright/poet/novelist specializes in "shock tactics," as Jutta Landa put it in Modern Austrian Literature. Landa described Turrini's stageworks as fashioned using both explicit and implicit shock strategies. Among the explicit are "crude dialect or slang replete with four-letter words and a hyperrealism focusing on murder, rape, promiscuity, and even cannibalism. Implicit strategies are aimed at the destruction of the dramatic code and the subversion of the audience's theatrical expectations."

Born in rural Austria during World War II, Turrini, whose roots are Italian and Syrian, felt an outsider among the more traditional residents. He escaped into the world of literature, but made his initial living in the blue-collar trades like woodworking and steel-working, "occupations that figure prominently in his plays," as Bernd Fischer pointed out in a Dictionary of Literary Biography essay. A freelance writer in his youth, Turrini realized virtually overnight success with his first major play production, Rozznjogd. This drama set the stage for the author's confrontational style: The plot has a young couple on their first date stopping at a junkyard where the man shows his girlfriend his talent for shooting rats. "In an attempt to overcome their feelings of alienation and falsehood the two slowly remove all the trappings of civilization—false eyelashes, false teeth, hairpieces, cosmetics, money, and finally clothes," as Fischer noted. As they make love, passersby mistake their movement for that of vermin—and shoot the lovers dead. "These snipers then turn toward the [audience] and start firing shots at this 'pack of rats,'" according to Landa.

Turrini's take on bigotry, Sauschlachten "is a parody of the tradition of affirmative and uncritical German folk plays," said Fischer. When the son of a farmer refuses to speak and communicates only in pig grunts, his family joins the villagers in treating him like a pig: setting him in a sty, feeding him suet and, finally, slaughtering him for a feast.

While critical of the rural mindset that can tolerate such cruelty, Turrini is no less gentle with city folk who engage in "functional barbarism," as he described the behavior in Gabrielle Robinson's Theatre Journal piece. In Turrini's view, Robinson added, both city and country types "not only lead meaningless lives but persecute the more sensitive protagonists. The social functionaries for the most part are presented in grotesque distortion," singling out the "mother who gives only the most conventional admonishments as her family tortures her son to death" in Sauschlachten. To Robinson, Turrini's protagonists "are stereotypes of abuse, hunted animals in a world of butchers. Even in view of the succession of the absurdist anti-heroes of modern drama, Turrini's mute or screaming victims embody an ultimate transformation of the romantic rebel-hero."

After the commercial and critical failure of some of his later plays, Turrini became disenchanted with the stage, according to Fischer, "and denounced it as outmoded bourgeois entertainment." He turned to television for his dramas, and collaborated on a nine-hour dramatic depiction of a mountain village from the turn of the twentieth century to the post-World War II years. The series was hailed as one of the best ever produced for German-language television, and its neo-realist style provided the basis for another Turrini drama, Josef und Maria, a story of two lonely people who find each other in a closed department store. Die Bürger, a drama revolving around greed, bourgeois values, and suicidal tendencies, remarked Fischer, "attacks Turrini's generation, which controls the levers of power in society but lacks backbone or goals and—more important—has nothing to say."

With Die Minderleister, the playwright examines the effect of joblessness, homelessness, and hopelessness on a steelworker and his wife. The husband, Hans, invariably loses out to a system designed to keep him weak: "the director of personnel dismisses him in a scene which slips momentarily into a parodic horror film; the tv game show host slaps Hans down when he refuses to eradicate his competitors, including his wife," as Robinson wrote. In this play as well, suicide is the final solution.

Turrini's portraits "of a cruel and dehumanized country life have given way to more realistic—although sometimes highly stylized—analyses of the decay of the traditional class struggle," Fischer concluded. "Nevertheless, the basic topic of [his] dramas and television plays has remained the same: his homeland and the injustices, cruelties, and suffering of its people."



Centre Stage: Contemporary Drama in Austria, Rodopi, 1999.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 124: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1919-1992, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Modern Austrian Literature, Volume 24, numbers 3-4, 1991, Jutta Landa, "Minderleister": Problems of Audience Address in Peter Turrini's Plays," pp. 161-172.

Theatre Journal, May, 1991, Gabrielle Robinson, "Slaughter and Language Slaughter in the Plays of Peter Turrini," pp. 195-208.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1991, Franz Haberl, review of Tod und Teufel, p. 700.