Arnon Grunberg

Without artistic result

Meissner and the pope

An author should not only brag about his awards, his successes, his less fortunate investments and his amante, from time to time he should be open about a devastating defeat, an extremely unpleasant knuckle sandwich.
I spent the month of February in Wroclaw to write a play for Teatr Wspolczesny.
Yesterday Krystyna Meissner, director of the theater, sent me a letter in which she stated that my play “Our Pope” (specially written for Krystyna Meissner) is not going to be staged.
The language Mrs. Meissner uses in her letter is rather strong. I will quote her: “The text is very irregular, especially on the level of dramatic construction and language. It looks like it was written in haste, in a slipshod way. The action is pushed forward by sketches and gags, interconnected weakly and unskilfully, matching a gross cabaret reflection better than a stage analysis. Commonplaces follow one another, without artistic result, unfortunately.” No further explanation is needed to point out that the letter by Mrs. Meissner is a metaphysical knuckle sandwich and I’m on the receiving end.
Without artistic result. These three words hunt me since yesterday. A play without artistic result is like a Catholic without the pope.
But I decided to turn this metaphysical knuckle sandwich into something positive.

Within the next few months both Mrs. Meissner’s letter and my answer will be published in a limited edition of 49 copies. Pictures of Mrs. Meissner, Mrs. Meissner’s dog and me will be added to this collector’s item titled: “Without artistic result : Meissner and the pope.” Proceeds will be used to help victims of child abuse inside and outside the Catholic Church.
Unless Mrs. Meissner insists on receiving royalties, but I assume that she is more than grateful for the opportunity to help victims of Catholic child abuse.