Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz



Dictators and rulers, killers and crackpots, lads and losers, gangsters and monsters, but above all the countless worthies of both genders who would so like to be any of the above but unfortunately aren’t – they all have a guardian angel of the theatre, in fact even holy ghosts, a voodoo man and woman watching over them: Father Ubu and Mother Ubu. The Petty-Bourgeois of this world can project all their cravings for the dark side of the world and the endless depths in their own selves onto them – and this since 10 December 1896, when “King Ubu”, by the then 23-year old Alfred Jarry, had its premiere in Paris. The scandal was momentous; it took quite a while for the audience to calm down after the very first Ubu interpreter, Firmin Gémier, had called out the primary, and most beautiful, of Ubu’s magic code words: “Merde!” Jarry’s fictional kingdom of Poland, in which Ubu staged a coup that would elevate him from dragoon captain to king, spurned on by his wife, a reborn Lady Macbeth, was also easily recognisable as Everymanland and Everywhereland. Ubu, a scary and wicked rascal, plays off everyone against all the others, but keeps the people in a party mood by gagging it with money, thus terminally ruining the “Fi!-nances” of the realm. More than one country on the way to rack and ruin will probably soon recognise itself in the Poland of Father Ubu. Jarry himself (as also did Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso at a later date) liked to describe the Ubu cast as a set of puppets, of gross caricatures, with potato shaped bodies and pear shaped heads. Above all, however, and just like all the sycophants and myrmidons around them, Father and Mother Ubu are essentially naked – for they openly assume their instincts; in fact, whatever their super ego or infra ego order them to want is immediately carried out: they are gross, greedy, lewd, gaudy and grotesque. Thus Ubu is the ancestor and evergreen founding spirit of all scary shocking and shabby moments in (not just) theatre in the last 112 years. But what if none of all that were able to scare or shock anyone anymore, and all the shabby stuff had already been scrapped? And if (almost) everything were already permitted for the longest time, even in politics, without even needing monstrous rulers as perpetrators? If the smallest common denominator becomes the greatest possible evil and the last real killers on the “axis of evil” were to annihilate North Korea or Belarus – would Abu Ubu then be reborn as an Al-Qaeda Chief? Would he still seize power? Or has power long ago seized and fettered him? Ubu in chains? Does he, will he still (and perhaps soon again) attain his objectives over anybody’s dead body? Or is he just engaged in fighting primaries to move into the White House together with Mother Ubu?
Dimiter Gotscheff looks for new playing grounds for this abysmal farce – the backdrop is invented by Katrin Brack, the costumes by Ellen Hofmann.


With: Stephan Baumecker, Frank Büttner, Samuel Finzi, Wolfram Koch, Sebastian König, Nele Rosetz and Axel Wandtke

Director: Dimiter Gotscheff
Stage Designer: Katrin Brack
Costumes: Ellen Hofmann
Music: Sir Henry
Light Design: Torsten König
Dramaturgy: Maurici Farré