Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
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Sat 06.05. 19:00 Großes Haus  

Judith

A tragedy by Friedrich Hebbel


Judith, the apocryphal, biblical heroine in Hebbel’s tragedy, longs to be loved and desired but in her native Bethulia no man can measure up to her – they’re all wimps and pussies. Holofernes, the pagan and (almost) omnipotent usurper of her people is of a different calibre. The archfoe is the object of her desire. Irresistibly attracted to him, she sees him to make love to him and then kills him in a bid to free her own people, whom she really despises. It’s a contradictory yet fearless endeavour which only deep love or even deeper hate could have incited. After sleeping with the enemy she beheads him: “or else I would have fallen for him”. A private motivation which can’t however diminish the heroic nature of her deed. Saving her people from submission to the infidels is deserving of respect. For reasons not unlike Judith’s some modern-day combatants have also vowed to screw the unbelievers, i.e. the West. Fascinated by its achievements, their masterminds are fond of brands like Gucci and Versace, and they embrace cutting-edge western technologies, particularly media technology. Like Judith they want to be loved and desired, which is why matters of representation and public perception are paramount to them, as the philosopher Boris Groys has pointed out in a recent debate at the Volksbühne. “However”, Groys continues, “failing to offer alternatives in economic, sociopolitical or ethical respects, their dependence on western media technology anticipates their downfall. Securing a prominent place in the global public perception is their only objective.” Neoliberal and neo-Islamic fundamentalism are perfectly comparable in their dogmatism and ignorance of history, yet even more so in their focus on the spectacle and fixation on the media. In this light, one might even get something out of the political incorrectness of Michel Houellebecq’s comment to the effect that ignorance and habituation are the only appropriate strategies of resistance in the face of terror: “In the aftermath of the January attacks in Paris and the assassinations at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, I spent two days transfixed watching the news. In the aftermath of the November 13 attacks, I hardly turned on the television; I just called the people I knew … you’re getting used to it. Even to terrorist attacks.”
Most of what is happening now could have already been known from history and literature. Hebbel’s “Judith” is a not so far-fetched example from a not too distant past when good Christians lived in Berlin who did not have a problem at all with beheading unbelievers. Judith believes she has “stabbed the world into its heart” beheading Holofernes. Yet her deed is pure compensation for a narcissistic injury which, as a sideline, restores freedom to the people - “her” people who might not even wanted to be freed by her and for whom she has no sympathy at all.

Carl Hegemann

Frank Castorf’s version of “Judith” is adapted from Friedrich Hebbel’s tragedy, first shown at the Royal Court Theatre in Berlin on July 6, 1840.

Duration: 5 hours

  

With: Birgit Minichmayr (Judith), Martin Wuttke (Holofernes), Jasna Fritzi Bauer (Mirza), Mex Schlüpfer (Hauptmann) and Stefan Kolosko (Achior)
And: Jakob D'Aprile (Bote) and Marcus Schinkel (Samaja)

Choir: Yasmin El Yassini, Judith Gailer, Ann Göbel, MissVergnügen, Leonie Jenning, Anke Marschall, Estefania Rodriguez, Anita Groschen, Nathalie Seiß, Johanna Skirecki, Julius Brauer, Florian Denk, Jens Bluemlein, Max Grosse Majench, Fritz Walter Huste, Henry Kotterba, Paul Rohlfs

Director: Frank Castorf
Stage Designer: Bert Neumann, Caroline Rössle Harper
Costumes: Tabea Braun
Prompter: Christine Groß
Light Design: Lothar Baumgarte
Video: Andreas Deinert, Christopher von Nathusius, William Minke
Dramaturgy: Sebastian Kaiser

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