VOLKSBÜHNE AM ROSA-LUXEMBURG-PLATZ, BERLIN
|directed by||Dimiter Gočev|
|stage design||Katrin Brack|
|costume design||Katrin Lea Tag|
|light design||Henning Streck|
|Ana Petrovna||Almut Zilcher|
|Grof Šabeljski||Thorsten Merten|
|Zinaida Savišna||Silvia Rieger|
|Sluga Gavrila||Sir Henry|
Performance time: 2 hours 20 minutes. No intermission.
Gotscheff's Ivanov is a strong and crude, impeccably precise tale of existential despair. The director does without the visual elements that are synonyms of Chekhov’s world: white linen suits, samovars and tea cups. It is not about the ennui of a rich society, but about figures that have become unable to act and to fulfill what used to be one of their essential requirements. Fog covers an antisocial world. Like in a Fassbinder movie, from the fog emerge figures of losers and individuals from the margins of society, people that we come across ever so often in today’s world.
A bare stage is filled with fog out of which characters emerge before the audience and then retreat back into the mist. Gotscheff transforms Chekhov’s text in a series of explosive, resigned, cynical and melancholy solos. This work of epic strength is a soul-searching piece which exposes the alienated psychology of the modern individual.
The stage exposes lonely, vulnerable people. Ivanov was once an enthusiast, and now he is deep in debts, tormented by his wasting wife and stricken with depression. Director Dimiter Gotscheff does without birch forests and chit-chat but presents Ivanov as a grotesque comedy of a stagnated society.
He follows the philosophy of the poor theatre which discards the first aid of great props. He strips Chekhov’s text of all traces of Naturalism and social life becomes a circus, a vanity fair.
Although full of despair, Gotscheff’s staging of Ivanov celebrates play, chance and beauty. The German Theater Heute magazine selected Gotscheff’s Ivanov as best staging and stage design of 2005.
He was born in April 1943 in Parvomei, Bulgaria. In 1962 he arrived in the GDR together with his father. He studied Veterinary Medicine and Theatre Sciences at Humboldt University in East Berlin. In 1968 he became Benno Besson’s student and met Heiner Müller, whose plays he has repeatedly performed since then.
In 1979 he realized his first productions in Bulgaria and the GDR, which he left the very same year because of the expatriation of Wolf Biermann. In 1991 he received the prize of the Critics’ Association of the Berlin Academy of the Arts and was voted Director of the Year in the critics’ survey of the journal “Theater heute”. He received this honour for a second time in 2005 for his production of Ivanov.
From 1993 to 1996 he was the permanent in-house director at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus. Since then, he is a regular guest director at the established theatres in Vienna, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
The Volksbühne in the centre of Berlin is one of the leading and most innovative theatres in Germany. It was established in 1914 as a result of a grassroots people’s movement. Erwin Piscator in the 1920s, and Benno Besson in the 1970s, had a huge influence on the theatre. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Castorf became artistic director. He turned it into perhaps the most successful, but certainly the most controversial theatre in reunified Germany.
With its paradoxical objectives to be elitist and populist, eccentric and appealing to the masses, it tears down the classical limits of the theatre, but also confirms them is a reflective way.
The Volksbühne’s image is characterised by Frank Castorf’s seismographic investigations into the present and his multimedia novel adaptations, by Christoph Marthaler’s monuments of standstill, by the works of René Pollesch as the critical director of turbo-capitalism, and by Dimiter Gotscheff’s original modernization of classics. But also the regular theory, music, literature and film events, as well as the ”Thematic Weekends”, which all contribute to Volksbühne’s ”concept of expanded theatre”, are integral components of this theatre.
Their goal is to find a critical audience in the theatre as well as in the popular discussion about political happenings.