René Pollesch

Prater Trilogie: "Stadt als Beute" / "Insourcing des Zuhause. Menschen in Scheiß-Hotels" / "Sex" ("Prater Trilogie: "City as Loot" / "Insourcing the Home. People in Crap Hotels" / "Sex")en

"City as Loot"
Stadt als Beute nach spaceLab applies to the human organism changed utilization of redundant urban areas and their activation as real estate promising great profits: marketing as an instrument of social control. "For Pollesch the city isn't only characterized by squares and avenues. There are also the communication links between the capitalized power-zones of banks and cinemas showing porno films ... The interlinking of site-marketing and locality-design with the human factor leads to the short-circuit which is Pollesch's principle. His text combines what does not belong together, thereby triggering a shower of sparks: theory and anecdote, witty point, and superficial babble".
(Frankfurter Rundschau, Information des Rowohlt Verlags)

"Insourcing the Home. People in Crap Hotels" after Lorenz/Kuster/Boudry
Insourcing the Home. People in Crap Hotels is based on an idea by Renate Lorenz, Brigitta Kuster, and Pauline Boudry, who rented rooms in an Office-Suite Hotel or boardinghouse, which is advertised as "Home in a Hotel", obviously seems attractive, and in accordance with urban marketing is linked with "development" and "flexible new work-places". "The hotel as a factory of feelings, as a business management centre for the production of participation and 'performed emotionality'. Pollesch's play is concerned with blurred transitions between work and home, between public and private, and the associated marketing of feelings as technology".
(Süddeutsche Zeitung, Information des Rowohlt Verlags)

"Sex" after Mae West
What on earth is sex meant to be? What is SEX? Somehow only men seem to know and women are mainly expected to obey the orders of heterosexual males, making that their life and work ... Pollesch approaches his theme by way of Mae West's brothel: "living better beyond the law", "living better in illegality". Ulrike Meinhof took two years to organize her daily existence in illegality, so how is it with other women's everyday lives? How would their existence be beyond heterosexual constraints?
"Mae West, the sex-bomb, wanted to bomb Broadway with sex. The Three Sisters wanted to bombard their own relationships. The explosive power of nonstop agitation á la Pollesch mainly derives from its comedy. These free spirits are hellishly comical in their efforts to understand: what on earth is sex?
(Der Tagesspiegel, Information des Rowohlt Verlages)

Responses to the Play

Theatre really isn't a debating club. Diagnostic cultural theories about the impact of globalized capitalism or postmodern urbanism have as little place on stage as the argumentive discourse of a gender-oriented feminism or, maybe, the question of effective control-scenarios in the public realm in terms of modern local marketing. If out of this jumble of theories, treatises, and discussions, out of all this "crap" as his actors would say, René Pollesch nevertheless produces theatre - a theatre of exaggerated, fanatical hysteria and theory, of intellectual short-circuits and linguistic over-heating -- , that results from the author's headlong, ingenious style. Inseparably acting as both author and director, this poacher of ideas has made conformity to the TV series into a new art form, compatible with the mass-oriented mechanisms of this medium and of industry. The stage thereby becomes a couch-laboratory, a Soap operating theatre, where Pollesch pursues something akin to empirical neurotic social research, deploying post-dramatic means.

Technical Details

Premiere Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, 26.9.2001 (Stadt als Beute), 27.10.2001 (Insourcing des Zuhause. Menschen in Scheiss-Hotels), 30.1.2002 (Sex)
Director René Pollesch
Cast 1 woman, 3 men, 1 set (Stadt als Beute), 3 women, 1 set (Insourcing des Zuhause. Menschen in Scheiss-Hotels / Sex)
Rights Rowohlt Theater Verlag
Hamburger Str. 17
21465 Reinbek
Tel. 040/72 72 270, Fax 040/72 72 276
theater@rowohlt.de
Translations Theatre Library
In his play Cappuccetto Rosso (Little Red Riding Hood), which was premiered in 2005 at the Salzburg Festival, René Pollesch again has his tried and trusted actors from the Prater at the Berlin Volksbühne (Sophie Rois, Christine Groß, Caroline Peters, Volker Spengler), whose own identities in real life merge indivisibly with their roles or, more accurately, their existences in the play, reflect on the most varied facets of representation, whether it be in everyday life or Germans’ efforts to come to terms with their past.

As so often in Pollesch’s work, the actors find themselves in a rehearsal situation, this time for a version of Ernst Lubitsch’s famous film classic To Be or Not To Be entitled The Nazi Shickse. Sophie Rois plays Maria Tura, the Polish stage star whose story is told in Lubitsch’s original film. She has lost her “magic” – the intuition with which, until recently, she was able to effortlessly play roles in commercial historical films about Germany’s Nazi past or the terrorism of the Red Army Fraction. Now she hopes for a miracle that will enable her to fill her film and theatre roles with “authenticity” again. However, Pollesch is taking aim at precisely this brand of fake, representational authenticity: actors always bring associations with earlier roles to their characters, above all those to which a particular clichéd image attaches. For instance, in Cappuccetto Rosso, the techniques of cabaret are used to discuss whether the famous Austrian actor Tobias Moretti should have an Alsatian at his side as Hitler’s Alsatian bitch Blondie when he plays Hitler in Speer and Hitler – The Devil’s Architect, Heinrich Breloer’s drama documentary about the friendship between Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer. If he does, every member of a German-speaking audience will automatically think of Moretti’s role in the television series Inspector Rex, in which he roamed Vienna solving crimes in the company of a police Alsatian. The role of the Alsatian is also analysed, for when it is being played by a poodle you cannot escape the feeling you are watching Goethe’s Faust, in which Mephisto first appears in the shape of a poodle. However, the Alsatian and the poodle can only play themselves because they will only ever be themselves. By contrast, as an actor, Moretti is always seen against the background of his two roles and their meanings, one – Hitler – with negative associations, the other – the nice policeman – with positive associations.

Tobias Moretti actually appeared in the main role of a different production at the 2005 Salzburg Festival directed by Martin Kusej. As Sophie Rois announces in Pollesch’s play, Kusej attempted, among other things, to dispel the clichéd images of the pairing “Alsatian and Tobias Moretti” by making the actor appear with a second Alsatian.

In this puzzle about the indivisibility of reality and theatre or film, Pollesch proclaims the impossibility of representing history unambiguously and truthfully. According to Pollesch, this is exactly what the commercial film industry claims (falsely) to do: a film industry that has dedicated itself to the supposedly realistic representation of German history. He demonstrates once again that the production of theatre and film, in other words the depiction of life as an art form, does not function if it fails to take account of the living and working conditions of all those involved in the representation.

Responses to the play:

“It is said there are dramatists who would not be too upset if it turned out no one was performing their plays in a hundred years time but, on the contrary, would see it as a disadvantage if their texts had a timeless impact because they would then run the risk of failing to connect with the present. René Pollesch is one such writer […].

For a decade, he has kept the theatre world in suspense with a series of highly personal pieces, most of which can never be repeated because they reflected their social coordinates with such total precision as they conjured up our everyday reality. […]

Apart from this, Pollesch’s play, which is interspersed with illuminating digressions on the consequences of asides in porno films – so fatal because they destroy the illusion on which the performance rests –, puts forward an uncompromising critique of the theatre as a locus of social pseudorelevance that systematically ignores its own increasingly neoliberal production conditions and, instead, all the more enthusiastically imports and representatively exploits material drawn from the problems of other, peripheral social strata. […] With uninhibited, pithy wit and without ever claiming to be an exception himself, Pollesch puts his finger in the true wound of contemporary representational art, its denial of the uncircumventable conditions of its own existence […].”

(Silvia Stammen, Mülheim Theatertage 2006)

“At first glance, the play is just about the theatre business. But – as ever in Pollesch’s work – it is actually about the world that surrounds it, about which he unburdens himself of in great torrents of words. Pollesch wants nothing to do with a theatre in which what happens outside is only depicted symbolically. It makes him cringe when actors merely slip into their roles. His work goes to the heart of the matter. Pollesch turns the actors in his performances into subjects. Giving orders and repeating themselves, they reach out to the audience, rapidly making contact with it because immediate experience is being conveyed, because the globalisation and deindividualisation from which none of us can escape are being addressed.

If this play is not just a theoretical sociology lesson consumed by disgust at a world that now consists solely of purchasers and sellers, it is due to the fact that Pollesch regards laughter, not tears, as the best way of making an impact on audiences. Larded with sometimes cheap, provocative punch lines and loaded with a tremendous density of memorable phrases, the play makes full use of the classical learning of the educated middle classes and pop culture in virtuoso fashion.”

(Bernhard Flieher, Salzburger Nachrichten, 26 August 2005)

Technical Details

Premiere
Director René Pollesch
Cast 1 woman, 3 men, 1 set (Stadt als Beute), 3 women, 1 set (Insourcing des Zuhause. Menschen in Scheiss-Hotels / Sex)
Rights Rowohlt Theater Verlag
Hamburger Str. 17
21465 Reinbek
Tel. 040/72 72 270, Fax 040/72 72 276
theater@rowohlt.de
Translations Swedish (Insourcing des Zuhause. Menschen in Scheiss-Hotels)


"Cappuccetto Rosso" (i.e.,"Cappuccetto Rosso"):

In his play Cappuccetto Rosso (Little Red Riding Hood), which was premiered in 2005 at the Salzburg Festival, René Pollesch again has his tried and trusted actors from the Prater at the Berlin Volksbühne (Sophie Rois, Christine Groß, Caroline Peters, Volker Spengler), whose own identities in real life merge indivisibly with their roles or, more accurately, their existences in the play, reflect on the most varied facets of representation, whether it be in everyday life or Germans’ efforts to come to terms with their past.

As so often in Pollesch’s work, the actors find themselves in a rehearsal situation, this time for a version of Ernst Lubitsch’s famous film classic To Be or Not To Be entitled The Nazi Shickse. Sophie Rois plays Maria Tura, the Polish stage star whose story is told in Lubitsch’s original film. She has lost her “magic” – the intuition with which, until recently, she was able to effortlessly play roles in commercial historical films about Germany’s Nazi past or the terrorism of the Red Army Fraction. Now she hopes for a miracle that will enable her to fill her film and theatre roles with “authenticity” again. However, Pollesch is taking aim at precisely this brand of fake, representational authenticity: actors always bring associations with earlier roles to their characters, above all those to which a particular clichéd image attaches. For instance, in Cappuccetto Rosso, the techniques of cabaret are used to discuss whether the famous Austrian actor Tobias Moretti should have an Alsatian at his side as Hitler’s Alsatian bitch Blondie when he plays Hitler in Speer and Hitler – The Devil’s Architect, Heinrich Breloer’s drama documentary about the friendship between Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer. If he does, every member of a German-speaking audience will automatically think of Moretti’s role in the television series Inspector Rex, in which he roamed Vienna solving crimes in the company of a police Alsatian. The role of the Alsatian is also analysed, for when it is being played by a poodle you cannot escape the feeling you are watching Goethe’s Faust, in which Mephisto first appears in the shape of a poodle. However, the Alsatian and the poodle can only play themselves because they will only ever be themselves. By contrast, as an actor, Moretti is always seen against the background of his two roles and their meanings, one – Hitler – with negative associations, the other – the nice policeman – with positive associations.

Tobias Moretti actually appeared in the main role of a different production at the 2005 Salzburg Festival directed by Martin Kusej. As Sophie Rois announces in Pollesch’s play, Kusej attempted, among other things, to dispel the clichéd images of the pairing “Alsatian and Tobias Moretti” by making the actor appear with a second Alsatian.

In this puzzle about the indivisibility of reality and theatre or film, Pollesch proclaims the impossibility of representing history unambiguously and truthfully. According to Pollesch, this is exactly what the commercial film industry claims (falsely) to do: a film industry that has dedicated itself to the supposedly realistic representation of German history. He demonstrates once again that the production of theatre and film, in other words the depiction of life as an art form, does not function if it fails to take account of the living and working conditions of all those involved in the representation.

Responses to the play:

“It is said there are dramatists who would not be too upset if it turned out no one was performing their plays in a hundred years time but, on the contrary, would see it as a disadvantage if their texts had a timeless impact because they would then run the risk of failing to connect with the present. René Pollesch is one such writer […].

For a decade, he has kept the theatre world in suspense with a series of highly personal pieces, most of which can never be repeated because they reflected their social coordinates with such total precision as they conjured up our everyday reality. […]

Apart from this, Pollesch’s play, which is interspersed with illuminating digressions on the consequences of asides in porno films – so fatal because they destroy the illusion on which the performance rests –, puts forward an uncompromising critique of the theatre as a locus of social pseudorelevance that systematically ignores its own increasingly neoliberal production conditions and, instead, all the more enthusiastically imports and representatively exploits material drawn from the problems of other, peripheral social strata. […] With uninhibited, pithy wit and without ever claiming to be an exception himself, Pollesch puts his finger in the true wound of contemporary representational art, its denial of the uncircumventable conditions of its own existence […].”

(Silvia Stammen, Mülheim Theatertage 2006)

“At first glance, the play is just about the theatre business. But – as ever in Pollesch’s work – it is actually about the world that surrounds it, about which he unburdens himself of in great torrents of words. Pollesch wants nothing to do with a theatre in which what happens outside is only depicted symbolically. It makes him cringe when actors merely slip into their roles. His work goes to the heart of the matter. Pollesch turns the actors in his performances into subjects. Giving orders and repeating themselves, they reach out to the audience, rapidly making contact with it because immediate experience is being conveyed, because the globalisation and deindividualisation from which none of us can escape are being addressed.

If this play is not just a theoretical sociology lesson consumed by disgust at a world that now consists solely of purchasers and sellers, it is due to the fact that Pollesch regards laughter, not tears, as the best way of making an impact on audiences. Larded with sometimes cheap, provocative punch lines and loaded with a tremendous density of memorable phrases, the play makes full use of the classical learning of the educated middle classes and pop culture in virtuoso fashion.”

(Bernhard Flieher, Salzburger Nachrichten, 26 August 2005)

Technical Details

Uraufführung

24.08.2005 Salzburger Festspiele, 1.10.2005 Prater (Volksbühne Berlin)

Regie René Pollesch
Personenzahl 3 F, 1 M
Rechte Rowohlt Theater Verlag
Hamburger Str. 17
21465 Reinbek
Tel. +49 40 7272270
Fax +49 40 7272276
Navigationssymboltheater@rowohlt.de
Übersetzungen Theatre Library