Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

War and Peace

by Gob Squad

“Hold this book. Heavy isn’t it? Actually that’s only half of it. It’s one of the longest in the world. It has 1256 pages (depending on the edition and language you are reading in), originally written in four volumes, there’s more than 135 characters. Have you actually read it? ...I’m only half way through.”

Far from the shifting borders of conflict and violence, in a place ravaged by peace, a group of artists attempt to hold a salon, a gathering similar to those held in High Society Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. Their intention is to contemplate war and peace, a book written over almost a century and a half ago, which has become part of history and reflects on it as a phenomenon and the perspective from which it’s told.

Throughout the evening guests are introduced according to rank and status, in a never ending parade of characters that reaches beyond the pages of the novel. Dances are danced, meals are prepared and duels are fought. Performers prepare for scenes as if going to battle, in a game of competing perspectives on what actually happens not only in the book, subsequent films and TV series but also in the world at large.

Playful and improvised, Gob Squad’s War and Peace searches the performers’ own backdrops of conflict, notions of freedom, privilege and safety. Duty and the individual versus community are discussed through the ordinariness of day-to-day life. In a modern day attempt to address one of Tolstoy's concerns: how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world? Or in our times, how can we live inside capitalism, comfortable in the knowledge of the absolute damage and suffering that our daily, ordinary “peaceful” lifestyles promise?

War and Peace is a new live video performance by Gob Squad, a collective reading experience of a historic novel, in which art and daily life, history and the present, reality and fiction blur and everybody becomes a potential protagonist.

Gob Squad build on previous works like Prater Saga, Western Society, Super Night Shot and Revolution Now! in terms of casting characters from the street or the audience in fictional set-ups, reconstructions and personal storylines.

War and Peace is a production by Gob Squad and Münchner Kammerspiele. In coproduction with Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin, the Schauspiel Leipzig, the Konfrontacje Teatralne Festival Lublin, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University, Malthouse Theatre and Melbourne Festival as well as Gessnerallee Zürich, Nottingham Playhouse and Teatro Stabile di Torino – National Theatre.

Gob Squad is regularly funded between 2015 to 2018 by the State Berlin, Senatskanzlei - Kulturelle Angelegenheiten.

Developed by: Niels Bormann, Katja Bürkle, Johanna Freiburg, Sean Patten, Damian Rebgetz, Tatiana Saphir, Sharon Smith, Berit Stumpf, Sarah Thom, Laura Tonke, Bastian Trost und Simon Will

Duration: 2h


With: Johanna Freiburg, Sean Patten, Tatiana Saphir, Sharon Smith, Berit Stumpf, Sarah Thom, Laura Tonke, Bastian Trost and Simon Will

Concept and Direction: Gob Squad
Sound Design: Jeff McGrory
Video Design: Miles Chalcraft
Stage Designer: Romy Kießling
Costumes: Ingken Benesch
Light Design: Andreas Rehfeld, Chris Umney
Dramaturgy: Johanna Höhmann, Christina Runge

Schwarze Serie