René Pollesch

Kill your Darlings! Streets of Berladelphia

René Pollesch has been talking about love in the age of capitalism in his plays ever since the 1990s. In doing so, he packages his social theories in monologues that escalate into screamed tirades, stage designs reminiscent of soap opera sets, live video streams and glittering, vulgar costumes. His production Kill Your Darlings! Streets of Berladelphia addresses all the same issues, but Pollesch has found a new approach to language and performance: He has cut the speed with which the lines are delivered and made use of a simple stage set in shades of grey. Drawing on references to theatre history, in the shape of Brecht's Fatzer fragment and Mother Courage's covered waggon, as well as quotations from the world of pop, Pollesch has woven a text the actor Fabian Hinrichs delivers solo with great charm and irony. The participation of 15 Berlin gymnasts, who float down from the flies onto the stage, lends the show an additional performative dimension of a kind we have not seen before in Pollesch's work. The athletes embody abstract concepts such as capitalism or networks and act as the choral counterpart to Fabian Hinrichs. At the culmination of the evening's entertainment, Hinrichs appears in a crazy octopus costume to proclaim his theory of added value, which he illustrates with examples taken directly from the gymnasts' movements.

Responses to the Play:
‘It is a long time since a text by Pollesch has been broken down in such a concrete way into bald statements and everyday language or featured such catchy pop-music rhythms as Kill Your Darlings. Of course, the Hesse-born writer has always mixed theory and trivia in the past. For instance, the colloquial endearment mein Schatz! (“my darling”; literally: “my treasure”) is a traditional component of his plays, which were already searching for true and false feelings in capitalism ten years ago. And right from the beginning, of course, Pollesch’s work involved the translation of complicated social theories into (post)dramatic theatrical texts, something he has been doing ever more convincingly – in other words: ever more comprehensibly – in recent times.’
(Eva Behrendt, Theater Heute, 3/2012)

‘Pollesch’s contribution to the Fatzer Crosses the Alps festival is both a sharply observed commentary on collectives, choruses and our striving for the singular at all stages of life, and the anti-depressant of the current arts season.
The way Pollesch uses Bertolt Brecht’s Fatzer fragment as a springboard and reinterprets the extremely accident-prone relationship of the individual to the collective under current conditions is not just clever, but captivatingly effortless as well: The athletic chorus of young Berlin gymnasts are both lithe and outrageously charming in equal measure. Hinrichs – all the glamorous entertainer in his shiny, rainbow leggings – introduces them with a grin as the “Choir of Capitalists”, which makes them the ultimate “network”, and they use their marvellous acrobatic skills to thwart any egocentric attempt to drop out of society.’
(Christine Wahl, 2012 Berlin Theatertreffen programme)

‘The sympathetic thing about his theatre, though, is that this author really does not claim to know any better. He has no answers to offer. Instead, he asks really good questions time and time again. For example: “Why doesn’t anyone kill themselves for love any more?” This question is one of the key lines in Kill Your Darlings! Streets of Berladelphia, which is featuring at Mülheim this year and was produced at the Berlin theatre where Pollesch is based, the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. It is many years since Pollesch addressed a topic with such concentration and sensuousness. This time, he even comes up with an answer at the end. Unfortunately, however, “We had to cut it. You simply wouldn’t have put up with it, and we wouldn’t have put up with it either. It was the best of all answers, it was right, but unliveable.”
On this occasion, the frame of reference within which the author likes to place his texts is not boulevard comedy or classic cinema, but a song: The subtitle cites Bruce Springsteen (“Streets of Philadelphia”). The play is, if you like, one long rock song, a dramatic poem.’
(Wolfgang Kralicek, 2012 Mülheim Theatertage programme)

Technical Data

Premiere 18 January 2012, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
Director René Pollesch
Cast -
Rights Rowohlt Theaterverlag
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Translations Theatre Library