Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Die Marquise von O...

by Heinrich von Kleist

Collateral Damage is probably the modern day term for what happened during the capture of an Italian citadel when the Marquise of O., after falling unconscious, was raped by Count F., a Russian lieutenant-colonel. As a result of the traumatic incidence, the young woman loses her memory. Finding herself pregnant, her father kicks her out of the house. She wishes the father of the child to make himself known and places an announcement in the newspaper to the effect that – in a paradoxical collusion with the culprit – she is willing to forgive and marry him. There is only one case of immaculate conception documented in the history of Christianity, and also Kleist knows of none other. Having been on active service himself in the garrison town of Frankfurt an der Oder and serving as lieutenant in Mainz and the Rhineland, Kleist has a more mundane story to tell.

He writes “The Marquise of O.” in 1808. Five years later, in March 1813, the Russian forces arrive in Berlin, which is occupied by the French. 300.000 Russian soldiers joined by Cossack troops fight side by side with the Prussian army against Napoleon on German territory. In the aftermath of the war the liberated German states become unified, but the war also paves the way for German nationalism that much later is to lead to historical abysses and atrocities. The close relations between Germany and Russia dating from that period subsequently result in a relapse into barbarism and bloodshed.

Frank Castorf, whose method of directing might accurately be described in Kleistian terms as “the sudden production of a play in the process of speaking”, takes the famous novella as a blueprint to deal with the dark side of nationalism, the bourgeois family and the battle of the sexes.


With: Kathrin Angerer, Hendrik Arnst, Frank Büttner, Sylvester Groth, Marc Hosemann, Ilse Ritter, Jeanette Spassova and Joachim Tomaschewsky

Director: Frank Castorf
Stage Designer: Bert Neumann
Costumes: Bert Neumann
Light Design: Torsten König
Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser

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