New German dramatic art - Plays

Schiess doch, Kaufhaus ("Come On, Shoot Me Store!")

Almost everyone talks about it. Everyone hears about it. It whirrs abstractly through TV channels, print media, public discussions, and the internet. It is acclaimed, criticized, and fought. There are as many definitions of it as there are ideologies. But scarcely anyone can say exactly what globalization is.
The Jena Theaterhaus and Dresden's Factory Theatre commissioned the young Berlin author Martin Heckmanns to write a play on this theme. He produces texts based on everyday speech and apparently obvious connections, which open up space for what has not been said: spaces where the silent, the solitary, and autistic communicators are the heroes. Deformed by a power structure which is difficult to define, they seek a language and identity of their own which are not immediately taken over in a process of commodification. The five characters -- Ätz (Caustic), Fetz (Tatters), Klar (No Problem), Kling (Ding-Dong), and Knax (Crash-Bang) whose names also describe states of mind -- zap through their lives, seeking friendliness and a real existence. (Suhrkamp Verlag)

Responses to the Play

"Get stuck into a struggle so long as you still have a body" - says a young woman with military trousers and delicate biceps beneath her t-shirt. Sometimes she does karate-like kicks. What she really wants is political struggle. If only that were easier. In previous times you merely set a department store on fire and that was political. Now not even politicians are political any longer. "Freedom is so boundlessly free/openness leads so openly to open-endedness/that the shout where you wanted to ask/IS ANYONE STILL THERE?/fades away" - says the woman called Ätz.

"Schiessdoch, Kaufhaus!" (Come On, Shoot Me Store!") is what 28 year-old Berlin dramatist Martin Heckmanns calls his play. But no department store shoots back here, nor is it burned down. Instead the image stands for a diffuse yearning for a meaning to life, which previous generations sought in a political struggle against conditions which deformed them ...

5 people in search of life. "I've never experienced what life would be like without world trade" - says Kling, a delicate young woman with an inclination towards melancholy. Sometimes she'd like to sing. Nothing more can be said about her. Heckmanns' characters are only vaguely delineated. Alienated existence has made individuals into stereotypes - figures like Fetz who babbles incessantly, or Knax, the cheerful political windbag. Even their protests against the globalized market are stereotyped: bits of text develop out of the linguistic husks of critical ideology, psycho-talk, managerial seminars, and the political jargon of the "Attac" generation, sometimes reminiscent of René Pollesch. But Heckmanns mixes a good portion of Ernst Jandl into his dialogue. His characters still always speak poetically - a language that authors like Danckwart and Pollesch have long driven out of their creations.
(Esther Slevogt, taz berlin lokal, No. 6776, p. 25)

"Schiess doch, Kaufhaus!! is an aggressive all-round attack on the craziness of our time - and an amusingly presented diagnosis of our current state. The human being is solitary and communication is disturbed or only takes place by way of clichés. The characters incorporate all the symptoms of modern, almost ungraspable developments across the world: insecurity, doubt, powerlessness, fear, anger, speed, and change ....
(Frank Quilitzsch, Thüringische Landeszeitung, 18.5.2002)

Technical Details

Premiere 9.05.2002 in a co-production between Dresden Schauspielhaus/TIF and the Jena Theaterhaus
Director Simone Blattner
Cast 5 roles (2 m, 3 f in the premiere production) and variable set
Rights Suhrkamp Verlag
Lindenstr. 29-35
60325 Frankfurt/Main
Postfach 101945 60019 Frankfurt/Main
Tel: 069-75601701
Fax: 069-75601711
Translations Theatre Library