Tim Staffel was born in Kassel, Germany, in 1965. He studied Applied Theatre Science under Andrzej Wirth in Gießen. Then he became a freelance writer and director. In 1993 he staged his first play, ‘Truppen’, at the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt am Main. However, most of his plays did not premiere until 1998, when Staffel’s novel ‘Terrordrom’ made him famous.
“It is really weird that I wrote for the theatre exclusively for years but nobody was really interested in my work. Then I write a novel, and next thing you know it’s up in lights”, the author said about the interest in his latest creation, primarily due to a stage adaptation by Frank Castorf. But ultimately critics raved more about the novel than about the drama. They hailed it as a paranoid, realistic, apocalyptic scenario of a society alienated by the media. Staffel’s image was marred, however, by repeated charges that he has an affirmative attitude towards violence. The author always protested against this “very narrow-minded assessment”: “We happen to live in a very violent society. We are all constantly confronted with violence, both as perpetrators and as victims.” In 1996, Staffel’s fantasy transported him from Wewelsfleth, where he was residing in the house of Günter Grass as an Alfred-Döblin-Stiftung scholar, to Berlin, where he has chosen to live since 1993. Staffel presented the well-known dramas of the German capital – pitched battles in the streets, happenings, eternal winter – in a slightly exaggerated form.
‘Die Zeit’ liked this style enough to hire the young author as a Berlin columnist for its literary supplement. “Berlin is a teeming source of material, but it’s not much of a working environment”, is Staffel’s account of his disillusionment with his beloved Berlin. In his novel ‘Heimweh’, the characters turn their backs on Berlin to go out and seek their “hometown”, “something far away from all dictates of normality and in opposition to all routine”.
People should not expect new plays “almost a hybrid genre, something less than literature” – from Staffel in the near future. But he is not really concerned with the niceties of categorization anyway. He often conveys his prose in accomplished performances together with musicians like Spin-O, SMAT and Madonna Hip Hop Massaker.
© international literature festival berlin