New German dramatic art - Plays

Kaspar Häuser Meer (“Kaspar Hauser Meer”)

Their colleague Björn is burnt out. No one knows when he will able to work again. He leaves behind 104 incompletely documented cases. Three social workers at a Youth Welfare Office, Barbara, Silvia and Anika, take it in turns to deal with them. Germany’s Youth Welfare Offices are one of the most dramatic and most publicly scrutinised theatres of war in a Federal Republic that is tearing itself apart in the wake of the Agenda 2010 social security reforms.
While they are restructured to death by management consultants, they are held responsible for everything that happens: for neglected, ragged, starving children, just as much as for flat doors being smashed down and families broken up. In a breathtaking flood of language, Felicia Zeller approaches the epicentre of the catastrophe, the impossibility of regulating human tragedies with paragraphs and institutions.
(Munich Kammerspiele)


“‘Kaspar Hauser Meer’ is like a capitulation in words. The characters run along behind their sentences, try to capture the semantic content, but whenever they think they have been able to grasp it, they find they are already in the middle of the next sentence. The language exhibits the chopped up rhythms typical of Zeller’s works. It is also peppered with bureaucratic jargon, bad German, repeated words, despairing new starts and utterances abandoned mid-word, which make the play an (in)articulate linguistic game. Sometimes, the statements sound like a stuck record. The needle of their enthusiasm for their work then gets stuck in the undergrowth of the cases they have to process. The women begin to drone, try to concentrate, try to fix their thoughts in language. They fail in the attempt for the most part. As ever, Zeller orchestrates this dance around the word with tremendous wit and drive. The dialogues tear wildly ahead. At the same time, the text has more than just comical elements to offer, and touching moments occur again and again.”
(Shirin Sojitrawalla, “Nachtkritik – Stuecke 08”)


“It is these repetitive actions and ways of talking that mark out Felicia Zeller’s text. Hectic, electrifyingly performed monologues alternate with repetitious passages sung in unison like a mantra, which float like slow-motion islands in the play. Each sarcastic, seemingly ridiculous phrase is chased by the next. At the outset, some things seem flat and spoken jokily off the cuff. But as it progresses, as one gets used to the intoxicating speed of the language and the not infrequently ragged choral passages, the play arrives at the central question: ‘Why do they do it?’”
(Johann Schwarz, “taz”, 22 January 2008)


“Like the cases of abuse mentioned in the play, the circumstances in the office are based on the author’s own research. However, no one should expect documentary theatre from ‘Kaspar Hauser Meer’. Nor is this drama, in which hardly a sentence is spoken to the end, really the kind of text you can settle down to read at home. It is a linguistic score that only unfolds its impact on the stage. […] Zeller does not play anything down, but she does not accuse either. She identifies a problem and puts it on the stage. The only thing that is unusual about this is the form in which it is served up: Zeller throws her characters into the blender and watches as it tears them to pieces.”
(Wolfgang Kralicek, Mülheim Theatertage 2008)

Technical Data:
Premiere 20 january 2008, Theater Freiburg
Director Marcus Lobbes
Cast 3 female
Rights Henschel SCHAUSPIEL Theaterverlag Berlin GmbH
Marienburger Str. 28
10405 Berlin,
Telefon: 030 - 44 31 88 88,
Telefax: 030 - 44 31 88 77
verlag@henschel-schauspiel.de
www.henschel-schauspiel.de
Translations Theatre Library