New German dramatic art - Plays

Ich schau dir in die Augen, gesellschaftlicher Verblendungszusammenhang („I Am Looking Into Your Eyes, Social Blinding Context !“)

René Pollesch developed this theatrical monologue for and together with the actor Fabian Hinrichs; the title is taken from a conference held at Frankfurt University in 2001 that featured papers on the 'constitution of the subject and production of ideology' (Ich schau dir in die Augen, gesellschaftlicher Verblendungszusammenhang: Texte zu Subjektkonstitution und Ideologieproduktion, Ventil Verlag).

As in Pollesch's earlier play Calvinism Klein, the theoretical core is 'interpassive theatre' (based on the theory of interpassivity put forward by the Viennese philosophy professor Robert Pfaller). This contrasts with the outmoded 'interactive theatre' Fabian Hinrichs brings to life with his virtuoso performance, subverting and parodying it as he does so. Simultaneously, Pollesch and Hinrichs get drawn into an unaccustomed, new way of making theatre.
Pollesch's other work has tended to leave the spectator overwhelmed by the rapidity with which the script is delivered and a form of discourse elaborated through the actors' fist fights and slapstick routines. Here, though, the performance offers space to pause and contemplate.

Responses to the play:

'A combination of Casablanca romanticism and Adorno, leavened with a fearless declaration of war on our comfortable world of deceptions! […]
This writer-director has always liked to play around with the social context of blindness, poking holes in it and whipping it away boldly from right under his audience's noses. Once again, Pollesch argues the social context of blindness it is necessary to confront here is founded on our desire to hold onto constructs such as 'meaning', 'soul', 'love' and 'origins', even though poststructuralist theory has been philosophising away about their deconstruction for decades.'
(Anne Peter, Nachtkritik, 13 January 2010)

'A genuine Pollesch work – but a different Pollesch tone and manner. It is quiet, considered, seeking and probing. The talking machine, the street-theatre terrorists are off-air for a while. […]
Theatre as phantom pain. But the show goes on, as an 'interpassive' event. A typical Pollesch approach. There is nothing else to say and perform, nor are the characters any longer in search of an author; this time, the playwright and director even refrains from the scenarios of economic chaos and alienation he normally airs at such length. […]
Pollesch describes this phantom pain with such precision and enters into such a finely woven textual dialogue with his patient, the actor, that moments of theatrical magic sneak in through the back door again. Certainly, the analysis is entertaining: phantom pain, phantom joke.
(Rüdiger Schaper, Der Tagesspiegel, 15 January 2010)

Technical data:

Premiere 13 January 2010, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
Director René Pollesch
Personenzahl -
Rights Rowohlt Theaterverlag