Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz


An Grandguignolade by Frank Castorf based on the novel by Louis–Ferdinand Céline

“So you call yourself a chronicler?” “-Exactly!” “Without a qualm?...” “-Don’t exasperate me!”
Frank Castorf can exasperate you. Insisting on the right of the artist Louis-Ferdinand Destouches (known under the name Céline) to make mistakes, he lets this author convicted of collaboration come back to life to attack him. As an 18-year-old, Céline was a volunteer in WWI, but later learnt to deeply hate colonialism and militarism when he witnessed slave trade working as a doctor in Africa.
On the eve of WWII, Céline’s unconventional attacks against hypocritical warmongers and militarists, and his painfully detailed descriptions of the wounds of war, were mostly understood by the intellectual left as support for the victims of gun violence. Leo Trotsky, however, was right when in May 1933 he wrote about Céline: “active revolt is always tied to hope; in Céline’s book there is no hope.”
Thus the author gravitates towards hate and war, writes four anticommunist and anti-Semite pamphlets, and in 1944, upon the end of the occupation, flees from France in the company of his wife Lucette, a silent dancer, Le Vigan, an actor friend, and Bébert, their frugal cat.
Fleeing across Europe, Céline stops in the moorlands of Brandenburg, where he describes the downfall of the Third Reich from inside. The staccato of his naturalistic/fantastic inventory of the collapse is drowned out by the ongoing hail of bombs. Air warfare, as a catalyst, annuls all principles of order. What is left is a complex instance of survival amidst a catastrophe, an encounter of Polish, Russian and French prisoners of war with the locals, Nazi officials and collaborators seeking protection.
World War II Europe is murdered, celebrated and buried in the face of what will be later called the Zero Hour.
“…one had been through things there, people, domains, geese, that should not have been allowed to happen… if one had a little tact, one would not tell about these… about those… ravens are rare here… but there are lots of gulls!”

A coproduction by Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Wiener Festwochen, Festival d'Avignon and Athens Festival


With: Annekatrin Bürger, Frank Büttner, Irina Kastrinidis, Young-Shin Kim, Michael Klobe, Christoph Letkowski, Inka Löwendorf, Thorsten Merten, Milan Peschel, Trystan Pütter, Silvia Rieger, Lars Rudolph, Sir Henry, Herman Herrmann (Gitarre, Mandoline), Boris Jöns (Mandoline) and Ole Wulfers (Gitarre, Mandoline)

Director: Frank Castorf
Stage and Costumes Supplier: Bert Neumann
Dramaturgy: Dunja Arnaszus

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