Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Am Beispiel des Hummers

by David Foster Wallace

In an interview about the Maine Lobster Festival, an event originated in a project by a magazine for gourmets, Wallace gave the subject of “pain and culture” a culinary treatment. On closer look, the mega event with a high-end target emerges as a lower-end annual fair; on an even closer look, it becomes a top object of study of thorny issues involving human nature, e.g. whether lobsters feel pain when they are boiled alive. None of the events scheduled parallel to the mass spectacle happens to even mention this point. While considering the behaviour of lobsters as they are being cooked and in spite of his strong conviction that “animals can never be as important as people", the author unexpectedly finds himself faced with "ultimate questions" that he does not dare ask publicly. A text from a different book by Wallace, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, shows where the “non public”, i.e. private treatment of the subject may lead. Director Ivan Panteleev has combined this text with the lobster essay.
One of the “hideous men” (Nr. 46) conducts the initially off-putting test of getting something positive out of the experience of pain, particularly humiliation and rape. Apparently the hideous man has read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” and says that, without the Holocaust, the book would have never been written. We end up in treacherous waters and get lost, as it is hard to see whether the narrator is claiming the arguments of perpetrators or is just a victim unable to share his experiences with the public (who "does not get shit"). In 2008 David Foster Wallace, celebrated as the greatest hope in new American literature, committed suicide in a deliberately painful way.

Consider the Lobster
by David Foster Wallace


With: Samuel Finzi and Sir Henry

Director: Ivan Panteleev
Stage Designer: Jochen Hochfeld
Costumes: Ulrike Köhler
Music: Sir Henry
Light Design: Johannes Zotz
Dramaturgy: Ralf Fiedler

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