Waiting for the Barbarians
by J. M. Coetzee
Adapted for the stage by Maja Kleczewska and Lukasz Chotkowski
At an outpost of the state bordering nomadic no-man's land, the representatives of ‘civilization’ meet the ‘barbarians’. Whereas the ageing magistrate seeks conciliation, the newly arrived leader of a special task force, Colonel Joll, sees traces of impending attacks at every turn. Fearing for the security of his country, he seizes and tortures prisoners to gain intelligence. The magistrate takes in one of the captives, a young girl who has been maimed. He washes her feet, and from this biblical scene an unusual story of love and passion unfolds. J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2003, sets his novel in a Kafkaesque world of dreamlike horror, mirroring our fears and fascination with and in relation to the foreign Other.