Die kosmische Oktave (i.e. The Cosmic Octave)

Die kosmische Oktave consists in eight texts that emerged in the course of a speculative exploration of Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Affinities). Four monologues that have no explicit chronological order and treat the four main characters of the novel. And four smaller additional texts that arose in the course of the rehearsals and in dialogue with the director and actors.

The work is not a traditional dramatization (transferral of the action). It is rather an attempt to capture the “flavour” of Goethe’s characters and transfer them to another text form and another theme. Not without reason. Goethe’s four main characters are, exactly like post-modern man, stakeholders in a society that finds itself in ideological turmoil (and so amidst the erosion of every major truth).

Stockmann traces the basic conditions of Goethe’s novel and is interested in the contemporary correlations of force and role of the characters. The work thus treats the state of old values and realities – and the possible ways out of a globalizing relativism and conceptual crisis that prevents us from connecting with one another, thinking the beautiful, feeling the beautiful and being capable of being beautiful.
(Verlag schaefersphilippen)

Comments on the play:

These memories, this overflow of superbly observed details, of truth and badly healed grief, the director Ulrich Rasche faces with his peculiar gravity. The result is a three-hour music and text theatre work to madden or melt you, an evening that either seizes and carries you away or leaves you running your hand through your hair. An eerily consistent happening that is so patient with its model that it almost inevitably makes you impatient; that proves the line between brittle and dull is very narrow indeed; and that fascinates and captivates. But what really constitutes this still very private Stockmann text is the merciless and unpathetic deflation of its own show cynicism, the laconic (and sometimes nastily comic) introspection of an artist who has had to realise that, in his fear of kitsch and in the eternally reiterated phrases of fashionable wisdom, all perspective on life has been lost. […] In the end, [this is] for Rasche and Stockmann about the rehabilitation of something very great, of undisguised emotion – a goal that they attain with astonishing verve. Die kosmische Oktave, whose calculated pessimism uses so much time to declaim against bourgeois forms of relationship, thus culminates in a signal of feeling, loyalty and truthfulness that is quite something – above all because it is not ashamed of its spiritual naivety.
(André Mumot in Nachtkritik, 21.03.2014)

Technical data:

Premiere 21.3.2014, Sophiensaele, Berlin
Director Ulrich Rasche
Cast variable
Rechte schaefersphilippen Theater und Medien GbR
Gottesweg 56-62
D - 50969 Köln
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Translations Theatre library