Helges Leben ("Helge's Life")

Expeditions into the human realm, into the world of an extinct species. By the year 2004 animals have further developed all of humanity's good characteristics, eliminated the bad ones (of which there are many), and seized power. For their pleasure they can order "everyday human life" from Mrs God for Pay-TV viewing at home - for instance as theatre performances or illustrative material on the "human zoo". This evening Helge is being shown in a speeded-up version of his biography from the cradle to the grave. At his birth Mrs God and Death are already arguing about whether this is worth all the trouble since Helge's life is going to be so wretched anyway. His parents neglect him and kids at school tease Helge. From the beginning he is accompanied by fear whose warnings and doubts sabotage his existence. He meets Tina (inclusive of her fears), marries this woman, the two have a child, and then separate again. Finally Helge lies dying and alone in a hospital, asking himself whether that wa it now. A story where everything is different, commented on by head-shaking animals. How could these remarkable creatures survive for so long on this earth? Why did such fear so deprive these lives of vitality? After all, the terribly banal reason for Helge's failure to achieve happiness and fulfilment was lack of courage in taking decisions, was apathy and lack of feeling, rather than some fateful blow or other crucial event.
(Rowohlt Theater Verlag)

Responses to the Play

From the cradle to the grave in 100 minutes, demonstrating that such a life can be petty, shabby, cheap, and yet very entertaining. (...) Afterwards what survived of respect for the human race into the 21st century - for incomprehensible reasons - can be seen, with a clear conscience, as being over and done with. This "splendid play by Ms Berg", directed by Niklaus Helbling, shows in passing how the good old charges levelled against civilization can be made fun of in the cruellest way if one is sufficiently light-hearted about that. It's not that "Helges Leben" opens up new areas of meaning, points to new perspectives, or that the Bochum Theatre thereby takes flight - but if a life is to be squandered, this is the way to go.
(Franz Wille, in the Mülheim Theatre Days programme)

Technical Details

Premiere Schauspielhaus Bochum, October 2000
Director Niklaus Helbling
Cast 6 f, 5 m, basic set
Rights Rowohlt Theater Verlag
Hamburgerstraße 17
21465 Reinbek bei Hamburg
Tel. 040/ 72 72 270, Fax 040/ 72 72 276
Translations Theatre Library