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


Alma - a monster of the 20th century

Paulus Manker
Alma struggled till the end, and very heroic, too. But she failed, she had to fail probably out of the reasons you have mentioned. Was that the reason that transformed her into a monster? Because once you said, I remember: "To understand the history of our century, the best is to go through the monsters". Maybe she does belong to the monsters? Because what she later did, mainly in the last years, she tried to lie, and to perfume, and make up her life for the posterity. It does not give a very pleasant image of that woman.

Joshua Sobol
I don´t think Alma was a pleasant person. She was one of the monsters of our time. But to understand the history of our century, the best is to go through the monsters. She was a monster in the sense that everything with her is bigger, bigger than life. And she made herself bigger than life. And when she writes about herself in her autobiography you feel that she is possessed by that need to prove that every moment of her life was not ordinary, it was extra-ordinary. Nothing was mediocre, everything was superb. She has that style of exaggerating about everything, which is again not the style of our time. I think that if you take the revolution of the Beatles and the Rock-revolution, which changed the attitude towards poetry, towards language, and we are now looking for simplicity in language and in images, and using everyday language and everyday images in order to describe our feelings, she still belongs to that older generation, where you could not speak about feelings without using enormous words, using superlatives. Everything must be extraordinary, grandious, exciting, schizophrenic, I don´t know what. In that sense she was one of those monsters of the begining of the century.

Alma and Franz Werfel Alma with Walter Gropius and Manon

left: Alma and Franz Werfel
center: Alma with Walter Gropius and their daughter Manon
right: Alma in New York

Also by the choice that she made of her male partners. I suspect that she was picking them up according to their talent, to their I.Q. almost or whatever other parameter she was using. She was picking them up according to their potential, their spiritual potential, and they promised to become the artists who are going to express the spirit of our time. And that´s why I put the emphasis on her pushing and manipulating Werfel to become greater than Thomas Mann, she is pushing Kokoschka to produce a masterpiece. Mahler she didn´t have to push, because he was pushing himself hard enough. But I think that´s what she liked in him or this is what attracted her in this person, that he had this enormous engine pushing him to achieve.

Oskar Kokoschka: "Sketch for Woman in Blue" Alma with Gustav Mahler and their daughters

left: Oskar Kokoschka: "Sketch for Woman in Blue" (1919)
right: Alma with Gustav Mahler and their daughters Maria and Anna in
Maiernigg (1905)

So, in that sense to the size of her ambition, the pretence to be there when these people are taking off, and going into the sky like shooting stars, all that makes of her an expression of the spirit of our century, where ambition has no limits, where personal ambition, the wish to express the dimensions of one´s personality without any limits, without respect to any limits or values or anything, it is just that kind of almost human megalomania. And I think Alma was a megalomaniac.