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In these days when real-life horrors and recurring violence seem almost normal, THE TATTOOED MAN TELLS ALL is a tonic for that dangerous acceptance.
THE TATTOOED MAN TELLS ALL is a work of the imagination very loosely based on a series of interviews Peter Wortsman conducted in Vienna in 1975 with witnesses to and survivors of Western Civilization's worst excesses. As transcriber-translator-adaptor of this material assembled from tape and memory, Wortsman served as middle-aged secretary to his 23-year-old self, picking up where he left off. The interchange recorded on tape was painful to revisit, painful as much for his interlocutors' merciless bluntness as for the insufficiency of his response and the time it has taken him to make something of it. Once a taboo topic zealously avoided, the subject of which he speaks has since been loaded with a leaden label, idealized and idolized, riddled with spotlights, torchlit for moral uplift, hagioscopically highlighted with a reverence formerly reserved for the Crucifixion. This play is devoted to the things left unsaid.
Drama. Literary Nonfiction. History. Jewish Studies.
"I was particularly struck by your account of the visit to Auschwitz (Snapshots and Souvenirs). The behavior of the people was wonderfully human and moving -- the sort of thing even the best writers find it almost impossible to invent. The unexpected in human behavior is difficult to take out of the air, as opposed to the usual [...] It is precisely these unforeseen details which establish the authenticity of the text, and which give it literary value. Excellent writing." – Paul Bowles
"THE TATTOOED MAN is socially engaged, literary theater, that in an interesting form makes the inconceivable palpable. The experience proves deeply moving, and yet without a raised forefinger, able to make us grasp the value of oral history.” – Marcel Lorenz
“In the premiere of THE TATTOOED MAN, we are not confronted with an ordinary stage play. […] Perhaps the author wants to make clear to us that we must never forget that the memory of the monstrous acts of the Nazi regime must always remain painful, so as not to countenance a collective amnesia.” – Ingrid Rosine Floerke, Scharfer Blick/Kritikerclub
“I admired your play [THE TATTOOED MAN]. You handle both subject and dialogue with just the right degree of passion and distance. It’s an area I’d never dare tackle. Congratulations.” – Sir Arnold Wesker, British Playwright
“In these days when real-life horrors and recurring violence seem almost normal, THE TATTOOED MAN TELLS ALL is a tonic for that dangerous acceptance.” – The Valley Advocate
The son of Austrian-Jewish emigrés, born in New York in 1952, Peter Wortsman was raised bilingually in German and English, i.e. linguistically confused. He is the author of a novel Cold Earth Wanderers (2014), two volumes of short fiction A Modern Way to Die (1991, second edition, 2019) and Footprints in Wet Cement (2017), plays Burning Words (premiered in 2006, in German translation, 2014), and The Tattooed Man Tells All (2018), a travel memoir Ghost Dance in Berlin (2013), and of a book of nonfiction The Caring Heirs of Doctor Samuel Bard (2019). Wortsman is also a literary translator from German into English, of works by Chamisso, the Grimms, Heine, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Kafka, Kleist, Musil, and Mynona, among others.