by Sarah Kane

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The 2005 archive

Thomas Ostermeier


Anéantis © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


Thomas Ostermeier was first noticed in 1996 when he presented plays in a group of pre-fabricated buildings next to the Deutsches Theater, known as the Barracke. At first, he devoted himself to contemporary writers, and built up around him a strong artistic collective which surprised and excited the Berlin audiences, and then those elsewhere in Europe. He was appointed as co-director of the Schaubühne Berlin in 1999, where he continued his work, but began alternating with repertory texts , e.g. Büchner, Brecht, Ibsen, and living authors, e.g. Marius von Mayenburg, Jon Fosse, Biljana Srbljanovic, Sarah Kane, Lars Norén. But, whether classic or contemporary, he always situates these plays in the reality of a politically reunited, but still socially and culturally divided Germany, inside Europe which is made up of small pieces faced with a potential cultural invasion from across the Atlantic, in a world which cannot eradicate either conflict or barbarity from the way it functions. In his artistic approach, Thomas Ostermeier's style of theatre is one that is closer to human beings, as seen particularly when he was the associate artist for the 58th Avignon Festival in 2004. At the Avignon Festival Thomas Ostermeier presented, Mann ist Mann by Bertolt Brecht, Under the Belt by Richard Dresser and Shopping and Fucking by Mark Ravenhill in 1999, The Death of Danton by Georg Büchner in 2001, Woyzeck by Büchner, A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh and Concert à la Carte by Franz Xaver Kreutz in 2004.

Praised to the skies by some, slammed by others, Sarah Kane's first play, Anéantis (Blasted) in 1995, was like a crack of thunder, a violent jolt to the English theatre scene. Thomas Ostermeier is directing this landmark text which he considers as visionary and once its provocative image laid aside, is a play of exceptional dramatic force, written in a concentrated and precise way, without trimmings, without affected literary airs. Ostermeier aims to stage the play remaining as close as possible, scenographically and dramaturgically to those who influenced Sarah Kane in this first work – Ibsen, Brecht, Beckett and Shakespeare. How can you represent brutality, sex and barbarity, which encompass the relationships between the three characters, Cate, Ian and the soldier, at the same time as an amorous passion, a desire for romance or a generous hope for a different future ? That's the challenge Sarah Kane presents to those who would embrace her words which inextricably mix human barbarity and the unfathomable capacity of humans to love and be loved. Thomas Ostermeier, takes up the challenge considering that we are surrounded by this barbarity and that it is no longer possible, like with the war in Bosnia in 1995, to close our eyes to it given the way it is thrust under our noses by the media. But there is also a thin line between the barbarity that every human has inside and collective unparalleled barbarity in a world which the actors and the theatre stage have to cross. The loss of individual identity contains the same type of violence as a given society's loss of identity, they are inextricably linked. And this is what Sarah Kane's poetic, brilliant, incisive and tormented voice tells us so forcefully, and that made her one of the most important English playwrights of the 20th Century. And this is what Thomas Ostermeier tries to convey without meaningless provocation, making Kane's words "we want to continue to love and to hope," his own.


Direction : Thomas Ostermeier
cast : Ulrich Mühe, Katharina Schüttler, Thomas Thieme
German text : Nils Tabert
Scenography : Jan Pappelbaum
Costumes : Almut Eppinger
Music : Malte Beckenbach
Dramaturg : Marius von Mayenburg
Lighting : Urs Schönebaum
Assistant director : Enrico Stolzenburg


Production : Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz-Berlin
Avec le soutien : de l'Onda pour les surtitres
Texte français publié : par l'Arche éditeur

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