Roland Schimmelpfennig

The Four Points of the Compass

A man has an accident with his lorry. He leaves the load lying in a ditch by the side of the road and sets off on his way to a better life. Another man finds the abandoned boxes while he is commuting to work in the morning and hopes to use the colourful modelling balloons he discovers in them to try his luck as a cabaret artist. One comes from the north, brings rain with him and buys himself a revolver; the other comes from the south and has two tongues. Both fall in love with the young woman with the Medusa hair. She works as a waitress and is accompanied by the wind from the west. Life leads people together from the four points of the compass, apparently at random. And only Madame Oiseau, the soothsayer from the east, knows that they are becoming each other's destiny. And that today someone will be going away forever.
(Deutsches Theater, Berlin)
Responses to the play:
'[Schimmelpfennig's] new play is a textual construct made up of boxes within boxes that reflects on itself in many places, circling ideas and situations as it assimilates leitmotifs, repeating and varying the same story in 52 brief scenes, and overwhelmingly working through monologues in indirect speech. This creates distance from the events that are recounted, which are narrated again and again from various perspectives. The characters step onto the pedestal in turn, sometimes several at a time. Occasionally, they also gather into a swelling choir, but for the most part they remain alone as they deliver their monologues.
Schimmelpfennig's script is initially confusing, then slowly draws the audience in with great power as it consolidates into a kind of higher clarity.'
(Regine Müller, taz, 2.08.2011)

'The scenes in Schimmelpfennig's play swallow each other up and spit each other out again, space folds, black holes open up. There are 52 scenes, 52 attempts to tell a bloodcurdling tale that is very banal, bizarre, romantic. In the last third, after a good hour, the many stories and twists and turns appear to cancel each other out. But this impression is overcome again. Inch by inch, Roland Schimmelpfennig works his way towards a nameless, endless and probably also meaningless territory. If one wanted to give it a name, it would be death. In fact, however, this space is mute. A space of uncertainty and fear, of chance and fate. Gentle, at times loving, horror, one might say.'
(Peter Michalzik, Frankfurter Rundschau, 1.08.2011)
Technical data:
Premiere 30 July 2011, Salzburg Festival, coproduction with the Deutsches Theater, Berlin
Director Roland Schimmelpfennig
Cast 2 F, 2 M
Rights Fischer Verlag, Theater und Medien
Translations Theatre Library