Augenblick mal! 2001

Mittwoch, 09. Mai 2001 | sophiensaele

Hans Otto Theater Potsdam
Shocking Heads
von Alexander Hawemann und Gerd Knappe
nach 'Der Struwwelpeter' von Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann
Rechte bei den Autoren
ab 13 Jahren | 100 Minuten

Director: Alexander Hawemann
Stage Design: Sibylle Gädeke
Costume Design: Sibylle Gädeke
Dramaturgy: Michael Philipps
Actor(s): Jutta Eckhardt (Frau Dr. Hoffmann), Ute Fiedler (Paulinchen), Robert Kuchenbuch (Hans-guck-in-die-Luft), Roland Kuchenbuch (Herr Dr. Hoffmann), Thomas Mathys (Struwwelpeter), Peter Pauli (Gevatter)


With an estimated 25 million copies sold, 'Struwwelpeter' (Shock-headed Peter) can certainly be considered one of the most famous children books in the world. Aside from being highly entertaining, it has also served the educational end of showing what


... This production is anarchistic and provocative. This Potsdamer theatre interpretation of the popular children's book not only fully absorbs its black pedagogy, but pushes beyond to dissect the biography of its author, Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann. The result is a brilliant, disturbingly artificial evening at the theatre for young people. Its power obliterates and redefines our understanding of 'Sturm und Drang'. Decisive is our own primal decision, required is our own personal choice. Where do we go with our lives? How do we live? Each figure on the stage offers a different answer: one extinguishes life with fire, one becomes a mere functioning component in the machinery. The sterile room of the asylum and the black uniformed nurses and instructors contrast starkly with the wild, unruly patients here for therapy. The doors behind them are open and closed by invisible hands. They are trapped on the stage: a jail, a correction institute, a place for corporal punishment. Escape from this educational torture is reserved to their dreams – far and few between moments of cherished freedom. But alas, even these dreams are dictated by the lawmakers. Calculated break outs. Dreams illustrated by the images of the institute's director himself. How free is freedom? Again and again a glimpse of Werther shines through these three figures.

To express the deformation of repression, the production is reliant on a high degree of physicality. Ranging from the animal to the monstrous, both sides of this exceptionally talented ensemble are stripped of their humanity, whether the torturer or the tortured. Director Alexander Hawemann pushes attempts to 'normalise' humans to the extreme: from group therapy scenes to flashbacks and break outs. This is an evening that demands the audience to make a choice, forces us to take a position: to stay or go, resist or condescend. If we stay and condescend, the possibility looms of catching ourselves off track, of stumbling over ourselves and, with new insight, to become a slightly different person. This is political theatre. At the moment the production is no longer running at the Potsdamer Theatre. Pity. Something this radical can be seen a hundred times and still be alarming, still ooze with originality, still captivate. Why then is this unconventionality, this instinctual need to counter the censorship of our reality so rare? Is there so little room for negotiation? By not taking sides are we skirting around the issues? Are we so desperately afraid to face the facts? It's true, confrontation can be ugly. Especially when we've grown accustomed to the humane pleasantries of political correctness.

Alexander Hawemann succeeds in revealing the deformation humans undergo when forced to comply to the status quo. They are devoured and sucked dry to point of transparency. He shows what can happen when we, meaning only well, attempt to comply and fail: in the hopes of shaping an identity close to our true inner core yet still acceptable to the norm we lose ourselves completely. What then? Is there a life after such failure? We are left with exactly this yearning. How to burst out of the matrix. What we have to do to truly escape. What we have to leave behind – although, if we are honest, we've long since figured it out. What unimaginable forms of life are waiting for us. And where. The solution is not to be found though contemplation, in these constricting corridors of the eternally re-digested. The obvious prevails: to experience experience.

Karola Marsch

Back to overview