Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz


A tragedy by Friedrich Hebbel

Judith, the apocryphal, biblical heroine in Hebbel’s tragedy, longs to be loved and desired but in her native Bethulia no man can measure up to her – they’re all wimps and pussies. Holofernes, the pagan and (almost) omnipotent usurper of her people is of a different calibre. The archfoe is the object of her desire. Irresistibly attracted to him, she sees him to make love to him and then kills him in a bid to free her own people, whom she really despises. It’s a contradictory yet fearless endeavour which only deep love or even deeper hate could have incited. After sleeping with the enemy she beheads him: “or else I would have fallen for him”. A private motivation which can’t however diminish the heroic nature of her deed. Saving her people from submission to the infidels is deserving of respect. For reasons not unlike Judith’s some modern-day combatants have also vowed to screw the unbelievers, i.e. the West. Fascinated by its achievements, their masterminds are fond of brands like Gucci and Versace, and they embrace cutting-edge western technologies, particularly media technology. Like Judith they want to be loved and desired, which is why matters of representation and public perception are paramount to them, as the philosopher Boris Groys has pointed out in a recent debate at the Volksbühne. “However”, Groys continues, “failing to offer alternatives in economic, sociopolitical or ethical respects, their dependence on western media technology anticipates their downfall. Securing a prominent place in the global public perception is their only objective.” Neoliberal and neo-Islamic fundamentalism are perfectly comparable in their dogmatism and ignorance of history, yet even more so in their focus on the spectacle and fixation on the media. In this light, one might even get something out of the political incorrectness of Michel Houellebecq’s comment to the effect that ignorance and habituation are the only appropriate strategies of resistance in the face of terror: “In the aftermath of the January attacks in Paris and the assassinations at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, I spent two days transfixed watching the news. In the aftermath of the November 13 attacks, I hardly turned on the television; I just called the people I knew … you’re getting used to it. Even to terrorist attacks.”
Most of what is happening now could have already been known from history and literature. Hebbel’s “Judith” is a not so far-fetched example from a not too distant past when good Christians lived in Berlin who did not have a problem at all with beheading unbelievers. Judith believes she has “stabbed the world into its heart” beheading Holofernes. Yet her deed is pure compensation for a narcissistic injury which, as a sideline, restores freedom to the people - “her” people who might not even wanted to be freed by her and for whom she has no sympathy at all.

Carl Hegemann

Frank Castorf’s version of “Judith” is adapted from Friedrich Hebbel’s tragedy, first shown at the Royal Court Theatre in Berlin on July 6, 1840.

Duration: 5 hours


With: Birgit Minichmayr (Judith), Martin Wuttke (Holofernes), Jasna Fritzi Bauer (Mirza), Mex Schlüpfer (Hauptmann) and Stefan Kolosko (Achior)
And: Jakob D'Aprile (Bote) and Marcus Schinkel (Samaja)

Choir: Yasmin El Yassini, Judith Gailer, Ann Göbel, Anita Groschen, Leonie Jenning, Anke Marschall, MissVergnügen, Estefania Rodriguez, Nathalie Seiß, Johanna Skirecki, Julius Brauer, Florian Denk, Jens Bluemlein, Max Grosse Majench, Fritz Walter Huste, Henry Kotterba, Paul Rohlfs

Director: Frank Castorf
Spatial Design and Set: Bert Neumann
Fitted out by: Caroline Rössle Harper
Costumes: Tabea Braun
Choirmaster: Christine Groß
Light Design: Lothar Baumgarte
Video Concept and Camera: Andreas Deinert
Sound: Christopher von Nathusius
Boom Arm: William Minke
Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser

Inspiration by

Tyler Bates - No Sleep Tonight
Hans Zimmer - Born In Darkness
Myriam Cannas - Ishoe Maran
Myriam Cannas - Nafsha
Myriam Cannas - Manau Gavra
Black Sabbath - War Pigs
Faith No More - War Pigs
Tyler Bates - Xerxes’ Final Offer
Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Rolf Reuter, Werner Haseleu, Berlin Comic Opera Orchestra - Judith Oper: Act II: O warum bin ich ein Weib?
Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Rolf Reuter, Werner Haseleu, Berlin Comic Opera Orchestra - Judith Oper: Act II: Wach auf! Torin!
Jason Graves - The Oni
Rainbow - Gates Of Babylon
Gustavo Santaolalla - The Hour
Salwa Abou Greisha - We Daret El Ayam
Deltahead - Why Don’t we All Get Down
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky - Marche Slave, Op. 31
Tyler Bates - Cursed By Beauty
Hans Zimmer - Underground Army
Kanye West - No Church In The Wild
Lustmord - Heresy Part V
Celldweller/Klog - Disposable War Pigs (11-7-2011 Celldweller Klash-Up)
Scott Walker - Buzzers
Nabil Al Sayed - Abou Ali
Depeche Mode - Junior Painkiller
Frankie Goes To Hollywood - The Power Of Love
MajorLeagueWobs / Holder - ISIS Step/ Allahu Trapbar
Efendi’s Garden - The Garden
Peter Pringle - Ancient Egyptian Love Song
Watcha Clan - Im Nin Alu