New German dramatic art - Plays

Vineta (Oderwassersucht) ("Vineta [Addicted to Drowning]")

Steve was a boxer. After nine years away he returns home. Back to Frankfurt/Oder. He wants to fight again, but he is 32.
There isn't enough money to heat the old training hall any longer. His former trainer has a dead-end job on Mitropa night trains, and daughter Rosa, once a gymnast, wants to get away. She's placed her hopes in boxer boy-friend Frank's career. He would like to have a child with Rosa. Frank's father was killed in an accident. His mother is by now a jobless alcoholic. Leila, Steve's great love, works as a doctor and has remained single. And Mike doesn't need anyone.
Homecomer Steve seeks refuge and a second chance. But everything has changed. All the others want to leave. But they make a success of things, developing survival strategies with defiance, humour, and self-assurance. They get by and live a full life in their home town, the place where they grew up together.
(Dreimasken Verlag, Munich)

Responses to the Play

The future is stuffed and anyone who sets out in search of his childhood, of a fabulous town, can drown himself straightaway, succumbing to the "yearning for the waters of the Oder" referred to in the play's sub-title. And yet this play is a sad declaration of love for the marginal towns of the East. Not just for Frankfurt/Oder where by now there's no longer any town theatre - but also for any place where sausages are still grilled at sandy camping sites, where generations are linked by eating potato salad together, and where red wine that's much too sweet is spilled amid non-stop babble. In an only half-dreamed barbecue scene an old GDR song is sung to new words: my homeland isn't only today/and yesterday and what I see hear feel and/ taste and forget and want and hide/no it's also the leap from the high building/and the tears
(Petra Kohse, Stückwerk III)

This "Yearning for the Waters of the Oder" - as the author/director subtitles what was later renamed "Fight City. Veneta" (for a staging at Hamburg's Thalia Theater) -- is basically a social drama. The characters who come together in the sleepy dream town of Frankfurt/Oder ten years after the 1989 Changeover must bring tears to the eyes of any sensitive contemporary. Fortunately the author renounces any such embrace, and maintains considerable distance between himself and his characters. Unpleasant people are not made to look sympathetic. Everyone is allowed to talk and act up to the point of destroying what remains of his or her character. Of course what's left are still human beings. That's the problem. During the past ten years nothing has changed with regard to the well-known causes of all that's wrong, so it would be mendacious to assert a degree of hope. But no-one does in this play. And hypocritical understanding among the audience is not to be feared either.
(Franz Wille, Mülheim Theatre Days programme, 2002)

Technical Details

Premiere Schauspiel Leipzig et Freie Kammerspiele, Magdeburg 18.05.2001
Director Markus Dietz (Leipzig), Wolf Bunge (Magdeburg)
Cast 3 women, 4 men
Rights Drei Masken Verlag GmbH
Herr Guido Huller
Mozartstr. 18
80336 Munich
Tel.: 089-54456-909
Fax: 089-53819952
Translations Theatre Library

"zeit zu lieben zeit zu sterben" ("a time to love a time to die")
freely adapted from motifs in Pétér Gothár's film "Time Stands Still"

The second play in Kater's GDR trilogy tells of growing up under Honecker's communism. Part I - "eine jugend/chor" ("a youth/chorale"): sex and drugs and Rock'n Roll in the seventies. Fragments of memory from a youth in the GDR. Which girl has the most beautiful breasts? Who can drink the most? Where are the limits? On the periphery are flight, betrayal, death. Love and the horizon are distant; perspectives confined. The first choral part of the play is concerned with carefreeness, of hopeful running riot ending with sobering conscription for military service. Part 2, "ein alter film/die gruppe" ("an old film/the group"): a family story in slow motion. The uncle comes home after years in prison, takes the place of a woman's husband and her rowdy sons' father, who moved to the West at the end of the sixties. The uncle had recanted and could pursue a career. Never play the hero - is his lesson for the brothers. A school friend rebels - but they hold back, and in love too. Only when the younger brother wants to follow his father does he fall in love. He remains. Seven years later he is a soldier and his beloved is pregnant by the hated teacher. Part 3, "eine liebe/zwei menschen" ("one love/two human beings"): After the Wall has come down. A man, father and husband, alone in a city he only came to so as to find work, falls in love with a mulatto woman serving in a canteen. The start of a chaotic relationship. He soon begins to fear he doesn't satisfy her. They skilfully wound one another. Outbursts of rage, journeys, separations, fresh starts - until she confesses that she always loved someone else. Fritz Kater's play looks at love in a time of social standstill: a subjective tone, cinematic dialogue, dense prose. The three autonomous parts of this piece are spanned by a narrative telling of the death of great dreams and arrival in a lonely present day.
(henschel SCHAUSPIEL)

Responses to the Play

"What sounds enormously trivial, sweaty, delightfully small-minded, flat, and flickering is sharply accentuated by the author's condensed use of language: expansive, profound, and clear - and also ardently and painfully heart-rending. Fritz Kater has the rare, admirable gift of making entire comedies and tragedies flare up in just a few words, like speech bubbles in comics. In passing he presents one of the most bewitching love stories in recent theatre - and on top of that probably the most convincing break-out for years of (by chance East German) youngsters into life. Kater's succinctness celebrates a fantastically resonant outburst of ecstasy, far beyond the horizon which confines the world of tangible things and documentable facts. Outlines and clichés unexpectedly become characters with a destiny; everyday frailties get mixed up with real human beings. The next any old thing, almost unsayable, gets intertwined with what is ultimately beyond words".
(Reinhard Wengierek in Die Welt, 23.9.2002)

"Fritz Kater ... tells of a generation between standstill and break-out, of grey yearnings and little tragedies. This text races breathlessly. It's written without full-stops and commas in a rapid, elaborate staccato with succinct dialogue and prosaic narrative passages. Spoken dialogue, comment on scenes, and stage directions succeed one another ... Fritz Kater invokes the microcosm of the East, allowing an entire world to come into existence".
(Christine Dössel, Mülheim Theatre Days programme, 2003)

Technical Details

Premiere 19.9.2002, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
Director Armin Petras
Cast variable
Rights henschel SCHAUSPIEL Theaterverlag GmbH
Marienburgerstr. 28
10405 Berlin
Tel: 030-44318888, Fax: 030-44318877
Translations Theatre Library