Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Die Soldaten

by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz

Since the Balkan War German troops have been involved, together with other nations’ armed forces, in “non-international armed conflicts”, as in Afghanistan. The West uses weapons to bestow democracy upon the rest of the world, thereby displaying the abysses of its own civilization: the use of torture at Abu Ghraib is the last visible case.
Already in the late 18th century, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz described how close an army is from a state of emergency –even in times of peace, due to and in spite of military discipline and drills. Based on his own experiences as he travelled in 1774-75 with Kleist’s officers in Strasburg, this Sturm und Drang poet shows “The Soldiers” in their brutality, their willingness to play with death, just like criminals. Baron Desportes, a womanizer, seduces young Marie pretending to love her, only to disappear leaving behind debts and an emotional carnage, while inciting officers into malice and lust: “Once a whore, always a whore (…)” Merciless and cold are his words and acts. Their men’s jokes turn to sneer, sneer into animosity, animosity into rape and murder. Their brutality and animality prevails over the order in the military code, anticipating war in times of peace. Lenz considers “The Soldiers”, an almost fragmentarily ordered series of scenes, as a comedy, with which, according to his stage theory, reality should break into the theatre –where it then no longer leads to laughter.


With: Kurt Naumann Skubowius (Wesener), Bärbel Bolle (Frau Wesener), Margarita Breitkreiz (Marie Wesener), Ada Labahn (Charlotte Wesener), Mex Schlüpfer (Stolzius), Hans Schenker (Desportes), Harald Warmbrunn (Der Graf von Spannheim), Frank Büttner (Eisenhardt), Axel Wandtke (Haudy), Henry Krohmer (Rammler), Uwe Dag Berlin (Mary), Volker Spengler (Die Gräfin de la Roche), Ada Labahn (Jungfer Zipfersaat), Ruth Rosenfeld and Sir Henry

Costumes: Adriana Braga
Music: Sir Henry
Light Design: Hans-Hermann Schulze
Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser
Stage Designer: Edwin Bustamante
Director: Frank Castorf

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