New German dramatic art - Plays

4 Millionen Türen (i.e., "4 Million Doors")

A room with four doors. Ernst is joined by Bendt, then Ella and finally Felix. They have obviously been invited to job interviews and wait in the room with four doors before they are asked to go in and present themselves.
It is risky for them to get to know each other: Each new person who comes through the door could also be the employer disguising himself or herself as a job applicant in order to test the potential employees. Each candidate embodies a typical role – Ernst is naïve, insecure and painfully shy, Bendt is dominant, self-assured and macho, Felix is an accusing social critic, Ella is a reconciliatory, harmonising feminine presence – and the four applicants’ meeting really has been engineered.

Responses to the Play:

“We cannot communicate. Martin Heckmanns’s plays remind us of this conclusion reached by Ludwig Wittgenstein. His characters suffer from language and its market-oriented occupation just as much as from speechlessness in situations where they seek authenticity and want to be themselves. They are unable to participate in the translation of feelings and relationships into objects that can be evaluated and quantified effectively. […]

‘4 Millionen Türen’ is set in a place where no one really knows whether they are unemployed or actually the owner of the business. Each conversation becomes a training situation; insults and merciless bullying are disguised as rhetorical exercises, any hint of sympathy is immediately assessed as an indicator of whether the person who shows it is a team player. […] Yet ‘4 Millionen Türen’ is not a play that operates at just one level; and this is exactly why it is possible to follow the characters as they are transformed from the dramatis personae of a post-modern tragedy into individuals constructing themselves to satisfy the demands of the economy. Two models of theatre clash together: a story of personal revenge about the death of a young woman involving questions of guilt and responsibility is overwhelmed by stories of competition, self-observation and people who strive to increase their market value. The characters only very briefly allow themselves to be drawn off course by their pain, then their devotion to image enhancement outshines any trace of character.”

(Kathrin Bettina Müller, “taz”, 23.12.2002)

“In itself, the interview situation is excellently suited as an acting exercise and a metaphor that unmasks the true nature of the contemporary world, but this comedy unaffectedly lifts it further up into metaphysical regions. Where the piece dispels with cool detachment any childish belief that it is possible to be certain about oneself and the world.”

(Ulrich Seidler, “Berliner Zeitung”, 4.10.2004)

Technical Data

Premiere 1.10.2004, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
Director Eike Hannemann
Cast 1 female, 4 male
Rights Suhrkamp Verlag
Lindenstr. 29-35
60325 Frankfurt/Main
Postfach 101945 60019 Frankfurt/Main
Tel: 069-75601701
Fax: 069-75601711
Translations Theatre Library