New German dramatic art - Plays

Karl Marx: Das Kapital, Erster Band (Karl Marx: Capital, Volume 1)

"Karl Marx's great analysis has a prominent place in the canon of books that everybody knows about, yet few have actually read. For Haug and Wetzel, it is a dramatic text, the seven seals of which can only be opened with the help of eight individuals who have lived with, in and for this work.
It is neither a swansong nor grey theory on the stage. When it comes to this book, it is certainly not a question of how the directors read it, but who has read it in the first place, not so much what is in it but where it is to be found in society, who uses and is familiar with it, whatever their political allegiances and economic practices. No other book has influenced economic theory and political reality as decisively as Marx's principal work of scientific socialism, lauded and reviled in equal measure as it has been. No other book analyses so fundamentally the laws of the market involved in the processes of labour and the creation of value - and therefore human beings as commercial goods. […]
Capital, Volume 1 draws together the threads of a protracted casting process, in which people from different political and social worlds with their different biographies have contributed and represented distinctive perspectives on this excessively bulky book."
(Verlag Hartmann und Stauffacher/Rimini-Protokoll)

Responses to the Play:

"In their group work on the history of the reception of Karl Marx's epochal scientific work, it was the play that was created first, followed by the text. Haug and Wetzel, who collaborate with Stefan Kaegi (who was not involved on this occasion) under the 'Rimini-Protokoll' trade mark, develop documentary performances for the theatre using working methods that require the performers to compose personal reports about their own experiences. Rimini-Protokoll look for 'experts', as they call them, who have a very personal relationship to a specific topic […] and during rehearsals their various perspectives generate a playful web of meanings.
In this case, the last director of the GDR's Institute for Economic History, a founder member of the Communist League of West Germany (KBW) and a dissident film director from the former USSR, as well as a blind record lover who has read the book in Braille, a woman who translates into Russian and the biographer of the confidence trickster Jürgen Harksen gather before a large wall of bookshelves that hold works by Karl Marx and devotional items dedicated to him. They dust off the solemn, stuffy reputation of this work first published in 1867 with anecdotes, short dramatic scenes or film sequences that range from the entertaining to the hilarious.
It comes as a relief that orthodoxy has no place in this game. Rather, the biographical fragments reveal […] how a world-view changes people, but can also be changed by them in turn until it demonstrates its political ineffectiveness in a coquettish retrospective at the theatre."
(Till Briegleb, Mülheim Theatertage 2007)

"A book as the eponymous hero, then - only a book, but what a book: it has - probably more than almost any other - created lived realities, conjured up facts in the world. Now it is something for people to play with. On a rather colourful stage as well. A wall of bookshelves extends the whole width of the stage with large niches (one holding a vase of red carnations, others with, e.g., busts of Marx), a library ladder and even stools, red and blue lighting, to the left a gaming machine of the kind you find in pubs. The evening careers from what is still the generally logical sphere of theory across into the strange, grotesque everyday madness of the money society - the craziness of gambling, of chance, the craziness of fraud, where whole empires and massive fortunes can be built on deception and illusion. Theatre reads. Reading becomes theatre."
(Hans-Thies Lehmann, Theater der Zeit, 01/2007)


Technische Daten:

Premiere: 4 November 2006, Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus, coproduction with the Theater Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, the Schauspielhaus Zurich and the Schauspiel Frankfurt
Directors: Rimini-Protokoll (Helgard Haug/Daniel Wetzel)
Cast: 1 female, 7 male
Rights: Hartmann & Stauffacher Verlag
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Translations Theatre Library