Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Der Spieler

The Gambler - after Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky is a restlessly driven man. After years of exile in a labour camp in Siberia, he returns home to find his wife dying. Soon after that, both his brother and his best friend die an early death. Devastated and uprooted, he travels to Germany in an attempt to escape his creditors. In no time, he has gambled away his last money and the copyrights to all his books. In urgent need for cash advance, he jots down “The Gambler” in only 26 days. It is the literary manifesto of an addiction.

The penniless tutor Alexei Ivanovich, part of the travelling party of a bankrupt Russian General, wins a fortune at the casino in the German town “Rouletteburg”. He is hopelessly in love with the step-daughter of The General, Polina, who treats him with indifference, if not downright maliciousness. The financially ruined General eagerly awaits the demise of a wealthy aunt, who surprises the whole party by showing up alive and kicking. She immediately gets hooked on roulette herself, and the expected inheritance is lost - gambled away at the casino tables.

Director Frank Castorf: “Exhausted and overworked, troubled by the burden of debts, and politically radicalised, Dostoyevsky is driven towards orthodox and reactionary positions. Unable to forget the Crimean War, he defends the Russian intervention in Bulgaria during the Balkan Wars in the 1870s, and fights for the emancipation of the Slavic peoples on the Balkan. Thousands of Russians have moved to the world of the Westerners. So has Dostoyevsky. In the Western world, he is the “other”, the Easterner, the Slavophile, with the Third Rome in his heart and in his mind. That’s the situation when he starts writing “The Gambler”. After the book is completed, compulsive gambling gets out of hand: all or nothing, either/or, risk everything on one chance, go for zero, go for broke.
The story is a magnificent, vividly dynamic fireworks of stagnation and standstill.”

Frank Castorf’s new production takes up the series of stage versions of Dostoyevsky’s novels that began back in 1999.

Duration: 4h 40min, one break


With: Alexander Scheer (Alexej Iwanowitsch), Sophie Rois (Großtante Antonida Wassiljewna Tarassewitschewa), Kathrin Angerer (Polina Alexandrowna), Hendrik Arnst (General Sagorjanski), Georg Friedrich (Marquis des Grieux), Margarita Breitkreiz (Mademoiselle Blanche), Mex Schlüpfer (Mr. Astley), Frank Büttner (Madame la vuve de Cominges & Potapytsch) and Sir Henry (im Krokodil)

Director: Frank Castorf
Stage Designer: Bert Neumann
Costumes: Bert Neumann
Light Design: Lothar Baumgarte
Music: Sir Henry
Camera: Andreas Deinert, Mathias Klütz
Live Editing: Jens Crull
Sound: Klaus Dobbrick
Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser

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Inspiration by

The Rolling Stones - Casino Boogie
The Rolling Stones - Sympahty for the Devil
The Rolling Stones - Going Home
The Accociations - Never My Love
ZZ-Top - Cheap Sunglasses
Mazzy Star - Five-String-Serenade
Sir Henry - Rrungs
Wolfgang Ambros - Alan wie a Stan