Anne Lepper

Käthe Hermann

The eponymous heroine Käthe Hermann, the widow of a Nazi, lives with her daughter, Irmi, and her disabled son, Martin. She barricades herself and her family into their home in a residential area that has been earmarked for demolition to make way for a coal mine. She sacrificed her career as a ballet dancer to nurture her children and now wants to fulfil her unused talent. So the living room is transformed into a stage in the evenings, and her children make up the audience. Käthe cracks down on Irmi's occasional expressions of desire for a new start, frenziedly clings on to everything she knows and gradually destroys the illusory mental constructions that each member of the family has created for themselves. Irmi vacillates between her hope of breaking away from her destiny, and her yearning for a husband and child who probably never existed; she only manages to find a way out when she hangs herself. Her brother, Martin, wishes he could be like the star of Visconti's film Rocco and his Brothers or a black horse, and has great difficulty keeping his sexual drives under control.
Anne Lepper is not so much interested in family conflict as the human striving for happiness and moments when it gets out of hand in the absurd horror of nuclear family life.
Responses to the Play:

‘Irmi and Martin not only have to cheer their mother on, this is supposed to be precisely how they attain their own happiness. For Käthe Hermann, the good mother, wants her family to be happy. No one and nothing can get in Käthe’s way. Neither her rebellious daughter nor her crippled son. And certainly not the excavator that is supposed to be demolishing the building. Compulsory relocation is quite out of the question. On the contrary, the flat is now being redecorated. Käthe Hermann shows how the members of a family generate illusions about their own past, present and future that allow them to view themselves as individuals who are capable of playing an active role in society and valuable members of a community. And it shows the madness that arises when this generation of illusions is threatened by social conditions.’

(Verlag schaefersphilippen)


'What Anne Lepper unfolds in this play with her highly refined language is a creeping process in which desires and reality mingle until they form an explosive substrate.
In her subtle comedies, societal norms and absurd yearnings are caricatured with such punchy language and atmospheric intensity that one is immediately reminded of the great exemplars of high satire: Samuel Beckett's claustrophobic comedy and Woody Allen's neurotic naivety, George Tabori's political sarcasm and Charlie Chaplin's comic forlornness in the world of rules. As a child of the sample generation, Lepper constructs her universe more out of such materials than out of observations of everyday life. Nevertheless, however, the drama's idiosyncratic structure and her creative use of language come so much closer to a clear-sighted parody of contemporary life than most normal plays about the normal problems of normal people. In her artful portrayal of averageness, the awfulness of our reality takes on monstrous forms – and is exposed to considerable comic effect.'

(Till Briegleb, 2012 Mülheim Theatertage programme)

Technical Data

Premiere 5 January 2012, Theater Bielefeld
Director Daniela Kranz
Cast 2 female, 1 male
Rights Verlag schaefersphilippen Theater- und Medien GbR, Cologne
Gottesweg 56-62, 50969 Köln
Tel.:+49 221 6777217-0,
Fax:+49 221 6777217-9
Translations Theatre Library