Interview mit Joshua Sobol
What is a Polydrama?
Our experience with the audience
Genesis of the play
Alma - a monster of the 20th century
No creative energy without
sexual energy

Mother figure or femme fatale?
Alma's relation to Judaism
Love at first sight: Alma's men
Alma's sacrifice for Mahler
An epitomy of the 20th century
The curse of Alma's Autobiography
The encounter between
Mahler and Freud


Genesis of the play

Paulus Manker
Why did you take a "footnote of this century" as the center of such an exuberant and enormous enterprise?

Joshua Sobol
I have been planning originally to write a play about Gustav Mahler for many years, and I have been reading a lot about Gustav Mahler, and he was the center of my interest. But I never knew how to start to write the play about Gustav Mahler. I only had one thing in mind, that was his notorious encounter with Sigmund Freud in Leyden. And of course this meeting between the two of them took place only because of Alma, and what she did to Mahler. And so slowly my interest shifted to Alma. But it was not my original intension to take Alma as the center of my play. And then, when we had the idea together of finding a subject for a play which would justify playing kind of a "Polydrama" in many spaces at the same time, and activating the audience, and making the spectator active in choosing his way in the story, one of the ideas was to take Alma as a possible subject for such a play. Because of the complexity of her biography, and because her biography reflects the history of the first fifty years of our century.

Alma Mahler
Alma Mahler   Joshua Sobol und Paulus Manker in Tel Aviv während der Arbeit an "Alma" (1996)

I think that Alma is also an epitome of the destiny of women in the first half of our century by her constant struggle to establish herself, to cut a place for herself amidst the world which is governed by very strong male characters. And Alma tried to push her way into that circle, and to occupy a place of importance amidst those male monsters of our century. And in a way she came too early, because if she lived in the second half of the century, she would not have any problem in trying to establish herself as a composer. But in the first half of our century she had still to struggle for her existence, and finally was pushed into the role of a "housewife" so to speak, of someone who accompanies the great men, but it is not allowed to occupy the same place like they did.

Alma is only a footnote in the history of our century, but when you focus on her you realize that she tells a story, a certain, very important story about the struggle of women in our century to change their status in society. And Alma payed a terrible price. She payed the ultimate price. She had to sacrifice her career, she had to sacrifice her vocation. She was pushed into the vocation of a "woman", of a "beautiful woman" or an "atttractive woman", and she had to abandon her vocation as a creative person. All this makes of her a very passionate character, a dramatic character. The fact that she struggled, that she didn´t give up, and that she did not accept it in a mediocre way. She was fighting - as I see it - all her life.
And so I think that she deserves a great drama.