Meister und Margarita (The Master and Margarita)
The devil has come to town: He has installed himself in a bewitched flat on Sadovaya and wreaks havoc in Moscow with the help of the giant cat Behemoth and a host of other devilish companions. Decapitation, arson, black magic, kidnappings, utter chaos at the cabaret theatre, counterfeited currency – the list of their cunning deeds is long and they are aimed at the bureaucrats, the followers of the regime, the upright citizens. The authorities fail in their attempts to explain this horror and destruction.
Bulgakov’s social satire still has enormous political relevance today. It is set in the Stalinist Soviet Union, a dogmatically atheist surveillance state with a huge, despotic bureaucratic apparatus and ravaged with supply shortages. Apart from the fantastical characters surrounding the foreigner Voland, a “professor of black magic”, there is the Master – a broken man who has taken refuge in a lunatic asylum following the devastating reception of his novel about Pontius Pilate. And while the devil transports the Stalinist world into a state of unreality with his magical terror, the Master’s novel becomes part of the plot and takes on the role of established reality. The relationship between the work and the world goes into reverse: The work appears to be reality, the world becomes fiction.
While the neurasthenic Master succumbs to self-pity in the institution, his lover Margarita is ready to pledge herself to the devil and his magic if it helps her to find the disappeared Master and his poetic truth. At the end, the novel and the Pilate-novel within the novel converge. Jesus commands the devil to grant peace to the Master and Margarita. They are allotted a small house where they can enjoy their life in love.
“The Master and Margarita” is the most famous work by Russian author Michail Bulgakov and is considered a masterpiece of 20th century literature. All his life, Bulgakov suffered under Stalinist censorship. His numerous plays were banned and his most important prose work was only published in a censored version in 1966, 26 years after the author’s death.
After the Nordic Faust “Peer Gynt” and the German “Original Faust”, Schauspiel Leipzig will now present this Russian Faust-parody, staged by Director in Residence Claudia Bauer. Apart from world and German premieres at Diskothek like “Und dann” and “geister sind auch nur menschen”, she has also directed several plays for the Main Stage, including “König Ubu / Ubus Prozess”. Her Leipzig production of “89/90” was invited to the 2017 Berlin Theatertreffen.