Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Ach, Volk, du obermieses

A revue by Jürgen Kuttner and André Meier staged at the Bülow-Wessel-Luxemburg-Platz

The theatre machinery is the first to anticipate the problem: Refusing to work it delays the opening event, pathos deflated. Berlin’s biggest and most modern theatre stage is inaugurated later in the war year of 1914, though not as planned with Goethe’s sturm and drang drama “Goetz von Berlichingen with the Iron Hand”, but with a „heart-rending comedy about old age” titled "Wenn der junge Wein blüht" [Young Vines in Full Blossom]. Yet the issue is not one of slapstick or classical drama, of course. The real question is – what is a stage for and of the people’s own creation meant to represent? What is to take place in a theatre that prides its very existence upon busily collecting so-called "Arbeitergroschen" (i.e. workers’ pennies)?
"Art to the People” had been emblazoned in large letters above the entrance before the building’s reconstruction in 1954. It also stood for the erroneous assumption that for art to serve the people it would be enough simply to collectivize it. Admission for all, mission accomplished? “Art as defined by the bourgeoisie,” Erwin Piscator later writes on a rather gloomy note, “has by and large remained untouched.”
What, then, is art to the people meant to be? What defines a stage for the people worthy of the name? The quest for answers is still ongoing, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm, since the subject of history called ‘the people’ seems quite elusive: One day they rally in peaceful protest led by poets and writers at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, and next thing you know is they violently run riot outside the housing blocks inhabited by asylum seekers in Rostock-Lichtenhagen under the aegis of a drunken mob. In a word, be ready for anything from Mao to Maoam candy when it comes to the people.
Right on time to celebrate the centenary of the Volksbühne, we’re presenting a big jubilee show following the people’s whims in the quest of their own stage in a zig-zagging journey through time – or, in the words of the German author and playwright Peter Hacks, from whom we borrowed the show’s title: "Ach Volk, du obermieses, / Auf dich ist kein Verlass. Heute willst du dieses, / Morgen willst du das."
[roughly: Ah people, rotten lot / Who’s to rely on you? One moment your mind’s set on one thing / And the next it’s all for naught.]

Duration: 2h 45min


With: Maximilian Brauer, Margarita Breitkreiz, Ursula Karusseit, Jürgen Kuttner, Sophie Rois, Mex Schlüpfer, Suse Wächter, Harald Warmbrunn, Chor der Werktätigen, Michael Letz and Band EMMA

Director: Jürgen Kuttner, André Meier
Stage Designer: Nina Peller
Costumes: Nina von Mechow
Light Design: Johannes Zotz
Video: David Tschöpe, Gabriel Anschütz
Dramaturgy: Sabine Zielke, André Meier