Gespenster oder Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken
The past is to be honoured by a monument. But instead, the legacy of the fathers appears in the bodies of their sons – they become revenants of their stories.
The Alving family’s country estate is shrouded in dark, incessant rain when their son Osvald arrives from Paris, drowsy with sleep. He has returned for the inauguration of a children’s’ home in honour of his late father. At this venue, memories will be shifted, making sure that Osvald never finds out about the abyss concealed in his parents’ marriage. But when history threatens to repeat itself and Osvald starts an affair with the chamber maid, who is much closer to him than he would ever believe, his mother decides to put a stop to it. But the past seems to have already become their irrevocable future: Osvald was certified to carry a taint since birth. His father’s illness catches up with him, but even more so do the spirits of the past. This legacy will never be shed.
This fictitious family story is counterposed by the true story of the Schreber family from Leipzig. Daniel Paul Schreber, son of the famous educator and physician Moritz Schreber, also seems to have been infected and seized by the past. His mind is corroded by an overwhelming power, by cells, voices and visions. He considers his hallucinations to be extrasensory miracles rather than figments of his imagination. He documented his decades of illness, his hospitalisations and detailed descriptions of his delusions in “Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken (Memoirs of my Nervous Illness)”.
And he too carried something his father left inside him. The latter created the basics for “Kallipädie”, an educational system that was intended to produce beautiful and upright human beings, and thus created a past for his son. The extent to which he had to endure discipline and physical training as well as the application of mechanical devices seems to have taken hold of his body – like an untamed creature that kept attacking and finally overwhelmed him.
Again and again, the spirits of the past take possession of the bodies, afflict them and, in the end, hold them forever. They dwell in our own insides; they are in all of us. Called into being, they speak through us. Once the crimes of the past have been released into the world, they can never be silenced. They will always return.
Philipp Preuss has been associate director at Schauspiel Leipzig since the 2015/16 season. Following his successful works “Der Reigen oder Vivre sa vie” and “Wolokamsker Chaussee I-V”, “Ein Sommernachtstraum” and “Peer Gynt”, this combination of two sources will be his third production on the Main Stage. After graduating from the Salzburg Mozarteum, he has been working as a director and visual artist since 2001, with productions at theatres like Schlosstheater Moers, Schauspiel Dortmund, Schauspiel Frankfurt, Theater an der Ruhr Mülheim, Volkstheater Wien and Schaubühne Berlin.