Johan Simons stages his Woyzeck in the middle of a circus arena: the arena where the characters put on their last sad show. Steven Scharf as Woyzeck and Anna Drexler as Marie were frequently praised for their physical acting and make for an impressive performance. In 2019, the show premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna, and now Simons is bringing it to Bochum with Scharf and Drexler again in the roles of Woyzeck and Marie. Simons received a Nestroy, Austria's most important theatre award, for Woyzeck.
Surtitles Dutch and English
Dutch premiere Thursday 20 April
Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is a play that has always fascinated Johan Simons. It is not for nothing that Simons has staged the play twice before: in 1992 with Theatergroep Hollandia and in 2001 with then ZT Hollandia. In his latest version, Simons opted for a highly artificial staging, further fragmenting the already fragmentary text.
Franz Woyzeck is a soldier and barber, servant to the captain, but above all: precarious existence, maltreated creature. He keeps hearing voices, shows clear symptoms of schizophrenia. A fanatical doctor abuses him for dubious experiments - Woyzeck is only allowed to eat peas, nothing else. His pitiful fee for this unpalatable diet is paid to Marie, the mother of his child, who cheats on him with the drum major. When Woyzeck discovers this, he kills her on the lakeshore with a knife and finally disappears into the water. But it is not only Marie who has betrayed and humiliated him, the whole of society has Woyzeck on its conscience. -|- Woyzeck is not a play and yet so much more than a play. It is an unwieldy pattern that always allows for new interpretations. In the Bochum production, Woyzeck is not only a victim of class society and his detached perception is not only a concomitant of age and illness. For Woyzeck, everything he perceives in the world is information. He takes everything seriously. This inner maelstrom of thoughts makes him dangerous and vulnerable at the same time.
Georg Büchner, who began work on Woyzeck in 1836, was miles ahead of his time. With this narrow fragment, which only premiered in 1913, modernity entered German dramatic literature. The text contains entire continents of human abysses, heaven and hell in a scant 27 scenes. It is about nothing less than the complete deformation of man into an animal. Johan Simons brings Büchner's groundbreaking fragment to the Schauspielhaus stage with Steven Scharf as Woyzeck and Anna Drexler as Marie.
Johan Simons moves the play to the circus arena. This constellation gives the text entirely new facets and possibilities. It is also remarkable how precisely the ensemble plays together, how each character has his space. The production reveals the deep-rooted logic of the human psyche, which in reality has little to do with logic, with rationality. It is an evening that lingers.
You get the feeling of being part of something unique.
Director Johan Simons received a Nestroy, Austria's most important theatre award, in Vienna in 2019. Simons won in the Best Director category for his Woyzeck with "uncanny alienation".
The winning direction premiered in Vienna in April 2019, as a co-production of the Burgtheater/Akademietheater and Schauspielhaus Bochum. It was the third time Simons had directed Georg Büchner's play. In his latest version, Simons opted for a highly artificial staging, further fragmenting the already fragmentary text, according to the jury. He also refrained from garish make-up and circus music, while you could still understand the types putting on their last sad show. In 2004, Simons already won a Nestroy for his direction Elementarteilchen, made at the Schauspielhaus Zurich.
by Georg Büchner
directed by Johan Simons
with a.o. Steven Scharf, Anna Drexler
A co-production of Schauspielhaus Bochum and Burgtheaters Wien
Do we really dare to question our prejudices? Or have we become too politically correct? How do we move forward without losing each other?