New German dramatic art - Plays

The Meese Principle

In his text, which is "a play without a play", Oliver Kluck succeeds in supplying an exemplary description of the spiritual condition in which Germany's young city-dwellers find themselves in their late twenties. The Meese Principle is about a generation trying to understand its own confusion. A generation who, between private television, poorly paid dogsbody jobs and prospects overshadowed by unemployment and Germany's labyrinthine social security system, wonder about the meaning of their own existences.
The author admits to joining in these despairing attempts to find significance, which he describes as alternately arrogant, vain and dogged, but pitiful as well: […]
The individual's radical failure to come to terms with its own failure to act is characteristic of this text full of angry comedy and raging despair.
(Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin)

Responses to the play:

The Meese Principle is a play without a play, it has no action, it has no characters, the form is open. No, maybe the form is not quite so open after all, there are fragments of narrative related by an 'I', and this 'I' is either in a very, very bad mood or a manically good mood. Its mood is probably bad most of the time, even if the 'I' would dispute as much: Certainly, things are bubbling away in its mind.
And what of Meese, the title hero? Meese is mentioned, but he does not appear.
A text that, with the best will in the world, cannot be summarised: quick-fire, angry, witty, despairing.
(Roland Schimmelpfennig, Statement of the Stückemarkt Jury at the 2009 Berlin Theatertreffen)

Listening in closely to the spirit of the age, he [Kluck] finds a single great directionless simultaneity. At the same time, he conjures up an 'I' that, liberated from the kinds of speech required by theatrical roles and dialogue, sweeps together the scraps of its identity. The television, the short-time working, the lack of prospects and absence of utopias, the unwillingness to commit and the rubbish that gets talked, the agony suffered in parallel to the subject's hyperactivity – all this is intended to form the mirror image of a confusion that is unique to Kluck's generation.
The Meese Principle has no scenes, no characters, but it is not a "textual space" either, it is a 56-page monologue that scatters loosely connected modules of meaning. At the same time, it is a piece of shadowboxing, performed with a "tell-all" attitude.
(Dirk Pilz, Nachtkritik, 8 February 2010)

The Meese Principle is a furious sequence of scenes that is not afraid to pursue daring chains of associations, intertextual links and references to pop culture phenomena. Surprisingly, there is much to be learned from the laughter and ridicule it directs at Germans' faith in authority, hierarchical systems of control and the expectations of middle class audiences.
Above all, however, characters and thematic priorities quickly emerge. It is a matter of finding appropriate forms of artistic expression, of working out some kind of attitude towards a world that organises itself all too quickly into generational conflicts.
(Verlag Autorenagentur)

Technical data:

Premiere 8 February 2010, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin (Gorki Studio)
Director Antú Romero Nunes
Cast Variable
Rights Verlag Autorenagentur
Translations Theatre Library