Edgar Selig reading in Recklinghausen as he plays: Fantastic!

The brilliant actor and writer Edgar Selig drew inspiration from his first novel, “Have You Finally Found Us” at the Ruhr Film Festival in a conversation with literary critic Dennis Schick.

Of course, it is about an open letter to Federal Chancellor Schulz and the protest expressed by 28 artists against German arms shipments to Ukraine, when Edgar Selig and Dennis Schick took a seat in the “real” and for the first time simultaneously in the “digital” Ruhrfestspielhaus. However, it will be an evening as entertaining as it is moving, and the occasional laughter will get stuck in your throat.

Selge was often at the Ruhr

Edgar Selig is familiar with the Ruhr Festival. He’s been here several times – most recently in Kleist’s “The Broken Jug” (2010), Guethe’s “Iphigenie auf Tauris” (2011) and also in “The Submission” (2016) by Michel Houellebecq. But today is different. Today Selge can’t rehearse for a role, be someone else. Today his personality, his own, is the main theme of the evening.

He brought up his brilliant first novel, Have You Finally Found Us, and although Selig himself says that the book, despite its formidable autobiographical portions, is almost always fiction (“I didn’t want to tell you what happened, I wanted to tell you how I did.”), Dennis Schick wants to get to his heart.

Sexual abuse is also mentioned in the book

Sometimes it works — when Selge defends his brother Werner, whom Scheck describes as a bit “arrogant” in a tough family dinner scene. Sometimes it doesn’t work – for example with a question about the sexual assault mentioned in the book. Selge: “I wrote the book because I was able to tell things I didn’t want to say in interviews.”

However, in the event of an emergency, the author evades there, in the book, and withdraws to the safe text, from which he frequently reads excerpts – very amusing with a lot of self-irony that is reflected when looking at the family (not an easy task as with many families of this the time).

It should be the way he reads it

Whether it was the beating and coercion not to be someone who loves someone even though they beat you, or a heated discussion of anti-Semitism on the living-room table, about the prisoners whom the father, as warden of the prison, invited to house music in the morning (they come in evening to academic friends) or broken wood sheep—collateral damage when Mommy shakes again and again, too lately, too dramatically, through the driver’s license test—and Selge reads as he plays: Great. He goes into the heart of every moment of his memories, and the listener doesn’t care if it was all like that or how he felt. It should be the way he reads it. At one point, the audience almost wanted to laugh when Selge mentions how his brother Rainer found a grenade and put it on the front steps. It seems unreasonable and unrealistic: “Whoever opens this thing to me gets a penny.” It goes on briefly: “But no one wanted to open the thing.” Then he does it himself, he has then said Brother Rainer. With dire consequences.

Neither praise nor censure is sufficient as an incentive.

“Have You Finally Found Us” – his dream quote from his mother – is a commercial success and has been highly praised by critics.

“And now? Do you keep writing?” asks Dennis Schick, before the audience stands up to long applause. Neither praise nor blame suffices us, replies Selig. But yes, he is currently collecting material, mainly diaries from people during the Siege of Leningrad between 1941 and 1944. He wants to reflect the writings of a young man with his story as a teenager. Writing and shortening what is written is almost addictive – Selge and Schick actually agree that writing is the art of omission. This text could have been longer, too – and he could have gone into more detail about the conversation about Ukraine. But that would go beyond the scope, and even the audience couldn’t choose between right and wrong on this highly complex subject without saying a word and just applauding.

In the end, it was decided the great enthusiasm for the book and respect for the person Edgar Selig and his story.

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