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Das kalte Herz. Kein Märchen
(The Cold Heart: Not a Fairy Tale)en

It is a long time since the inhabitants of Peter's town lived in fear of Dutch Michel, the evil wizard who used to rip out people's hearts. No one really believes any longer in the little glass man who will help someone born on a Sunday to good fortune. The greatest happiness Peter's friends can imagine is being discovered by television. It would be enough for his mother if her son was not a failure like his father Michel, who lives in the cellar and has forgotten who he is. And his mother's partner, Glassman, is just hoping Peter will eventually move out.
But Peter has no desire to either run riot with his friends, getting involved in fights, or embark on a life of petit bourgeois conformity; he has nothing but contempt for Glassman's time-honoured pearls of wisdom. He dreams of being different, yet cannot change anything – until he encounters Lisbeth, from whom he learns how someone can fabricate themselves a new life of lies. Suddenly, the old world has disappeared, and Peter is a hero, celebrated and admired, with a beautiful wife, a lovely home: a man who knows no troubles. Yet resistance gradually stirs in the perfection of Peter's rigidly controlled surroundings, a resistance he is no longer able to master.
The Cold Heart, one of Wilhelm Hauff's most disturbing fairy tales, asks questions about the price of happiness without understanding and greed without concern for our fellow human beings. People have not become either more intelligent or bigger-hearted in Gerhild Steinbuch's reinterpretation. Nothing remains of their fairy tales but lies. That does not mean their yearning is any less powerful – how can they find their way to a happy ending?
(Rowohlt Theaterverlag)

Responses to the Play:

‘184 years after Wilhelm Hauff devised the melancholy story of Peter Munk, the young Austrian author Gerhild Steinbuch has read the fairy tale afresh with her own eyes, adapting it to contemporary lives in which we still like to think our wishes will come true. In her retelling of The Cold Heart, people have been left with dreams rather than fairy tales. This does not make their yearning any less powerful – but what happens when their dreams constrict them even more than reality?

For Steinbuch’s characters, telling stories becomes a way of attempting to escape the present. They are seeking things that enable them to deal with psychological and social issues, things they hope to find in the realities they have created for themselves. Peter Munk constantly reinvents himself and dreams up the ultimate lifestyle, in which his family is a radiant community of happiness, and he is the centrepoint of a world of childhood idylls...
Gerhild Steinbuch’s writing comes from the depths of a harsh, stifling atmosphere, in which her characters long for a new life and, like Peter Munk, dream of setting off into the wide world. With her version of The Cold Heart, she lures us into unfamiliar spheres, detached from everyday situations. She opens up poetic spaces that have their origins in Hauff’s world – as well as the world of today, spaces where the little glass man is still living.’

(Theater Chemnitz)

Technical Data

Premiere 26 November 2011, Theater Chemnitz
Director Shirin Khodadadian
Cast 2 female, 5 male
Rights Rowohlt Theaterverlag
Hamburger Str. 17
21465 Reinbek
Tel. +49 40 7272270
Fax +49 40 7272276
Translations Theatre Library


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