Is this really a good idea? To compensate the loss of your wife by packing up your new-born daughter and the old grandmother and to escape from the city’s plains into high mountain regions, the origins of the lost loved one? To escape towards mourning, as it were? Into the Swiss Alps where the houses, the old people and the fields retain the memory of the deceased, as they generally seem to bear different layers of time within themselves? Where the last remaining ageing dwellers hunker in the mountain’s recesses, stocky observers made of stone and larch wood, just like their houses, diffidently refusing all that is new? Where they reserved a place for the deceased in front of the entrance when they come by once a year with the “Gratzug”, the “crest parade”?
Whether it’s a good idea or not, the grieving trio sets out on this journey in Wolfram Höll’s latest play, plunging themselves into a concentrated experience of foreignness, where the language barriers turn out to be the least difficult obstacles. They are completely lost: the father, who has to prove – not only to the mind of the village – that a single man can take care of a small child; the child, who opens her own eyes to look into the lurking eyes of the houses; the grandmother, who doggedly wins a place for herself on the bench, a landmark of social acceptance. In all their speechlessness, the small company of mourners achieves a togetherness through gestures, an encounter in the face of the stars – and in the end, perhaps not everything, but some things will be alright.
Wolfram Höll’s writing eschews well-worn paths of discourse. He and his characters travel to areas that appear to be untouched by the events of cosmic time, where landscapes, atmospheres and rituals merge with each other. Höll brings the world of the ghost-ridden Swiss Alps to life in powerful images. “Bergstück” (AT) will be the fourth play that the author, who took the biographical path from Saxony to Switzerland himself, has presented at Diskothek since 2013 (“Und dann
”). His premiere productions from Leipzig have been invited to Mülheimer Theatertage several times and have twice received the Mülheim Dramatists’ Award (“Und dann” and “Drei sind wir
”, 2016). Elsa-Sophie Jach
will direct the world premiere. After “Für meinen Bruder
” (2022), “Niederwald” will be her second production at Schauspiel Leipzig. Elsa-Sophie Jach has been director-in-residence at Munich’s Residenztheater since 2022. Her work as a director has been distinguished by an invitation for “Dritte Republik” to the 2019 Radikal jung festival and an invitation to the 2018 Autor:innentheatertage for Thomas Köck’s “die zukunft reicht uns nicht (klagt, kinder klagt!)”, which she directed together with the author, as well as several nominations, e.g. for the Nestroy Prize. “Niederwald” will be her second premiere production of a play by Wolfram Höll following “Nebraska” (Theater Oberhausen, 2021).