Der Würgeengel. Psalmen und Popsongs
You should always leave on a high point, they say. After an exquisite meal, a little piano music with their coffee and some animated conversation, such a moment would have come. But the illustrious dinner party who have gathered at Mr and Mrs Nobile’s house don’t seem to want to leave. Even though everyone is starting to flag and decorum demands it. Something prevents the guests from leaving. Time passes. An entire night. And still, no one is capable of leaving the salon. The door is wide open. No external obstacle that prevents the involuntary fellowship from leaving can be identified. Unwillingly, they all stay put and conventions, reason and morals threaten to erode…
In his surrealist film classic “Der Würgeengel (The Exterminating Angel)”, Luis Buňuel sketched the portrait of a society between power and impotence. A coincidental community whose members remain in this increasingly menacing situation regardless of their own will and an unobstructed exit. A social diagnosis that has lost none of its topicality since the film’s premiere in 1962. After all, what are the invisible barriers that prevent us from taking action against climate change, war and other crises against our better judgment? Guided by his subtitle “Psalms and Pop Songs”, Johan Simons analyses this state of affairs that can be only insufficiently be grasped by terms like apathy, impotence or petrified shock.
Johan Simons was born in 1946 and grew up in Heerjansdam in the Netherlands. He initially trained as a dancer and actor before he became manager, director and performer at “Haagsche Comedie” in 1976. In 1985, he founded Theatergroep Hollandia, which celebrated major national and international successes and which he continued to lead for 20 years, later under the name of ZT/Hollandia. Next, Johan Simons became artistic director of NTGent in Belgium. Simons has been working as a director at German theatres since the year 2000, including Schauspielhaus Zürich, Münchner Kammerspiele, Thalia Theater Hamburg and Vienna’s Burgtheater. Between 2020 and 2015, he was artistic director at Münchner Kammerspiele, which was voted to be Theatre of the Year by the trade magazine Theater heute in 2013. From 2015 to 2017, Simons was artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale festival. Since the 2018/19 season, he has been artistic director of Schauspielhaus Bochum. He received the German theatre award Der Faust in the category of drama direction, the Austrian Nestroy award twice and seven invitations to the Berlin Theatertreffen so far, most recently in 2020 with “Hamlet”, featuring Sandra Hüller in the title role.
“Der Würgelengel”, directed by Johan Simons will be premiered during the 2022/23 season and will be presented both at Schauspiel Leipzig and at Schauspielhaus Bochum. Designed as a co-operation between both theatres, the production will feature a cast combined from both acting companies.