Don Carlos

Deutsches Theater Berlin, Germany, 2007
Author: Friedrich Schiller
Directed by Nicolas Stemann

about the production

The production of Hamlet at the Schauspiel Hannover in 2002 took Nicolas Stemann at the peak of German theatre. His Don Carlos in famous Berlin´s Deutsches Theater belongs to the most remarkable stage pieces of the last season in the German speaking region.

Stemann is one of those directors who are able to extract from it what is current but keep the respect to what is written. Every year there is a number of classical productions produced but only a few of them communicate with the spectators about the world they live in. The Don Carlos can prove it – no pathos and over-respect to the classical writer but, nevertheless, still in the spirit of Schiller. Mainly with the topics concerning freedom and morality of man and what does a rationalistic Enlightenment tradition brought him. Our time also bears in itself the decay of the ideals of liberty, equality and brotherhood that disillusioned Schiller himself. However, he still believed in the ideals of humanism and liberty of thinking. What has remained from these ideals today?

On the big revolving stage, lighted by strong spotlights, the drama of power of the Spanish court is played again. But its protagonists are our contemporaries. Wearing suits, shirts, jeans, T-shirts they show us different types of behaviour of people whose strongest motor is desire of power and rule. Whether it is with the liberating of Flanders or keeping its subordination or with wining a woman or her humiliating. “To get what belongs to me” is the rule of the play. While in Schiller we can see a certain understanding for his characters, he tries to explain or excuse their actions, with Stemann this understanding or compassion does not exist. Stemann himself is an observer. And he made one also from the spectator. As we are used from every-day life. Not only that we are the observers, we are also the observed one. Because one cannot exist without the other one. And therefore, except for a huge revolving stage dominating on the stage, there is also a complex system of hidden cameras and projections. In the end of the production, just after the King got Marquis Posa,

the only defender of the people and the ideal of liberty, assassinated, the theatre is taken over by an „anonymous crowd“ exactly through a videoprojection. Stemann allowed himself to make a joke here, he had blown out in it a big light sign saying „Verweile doch“ – the real part of the area just in the front of the main entrance of  the Deutsches Theater, which is the quotation from Goethe´s Faust. Despite his disillusionment about the development after the French Revolution, Schiller still believed in the ideal of humanism whose mediator is the character of Marquis Posa. In our period such belief is not possible anymore. Only the chaos has been left in which, paradoxically, work strict rules. We, as well as the characters, cannot find refuge in the ideal of liberty anymore. And what remains are only the victims of own intrigues without the lifebuoy of ideals. To have ideals in the cool world of politics does not pay off…

The character of Don Carlos is as if an empty space of the play because it is only him who does not suit its rules. Also his image is different from other ones – he wears a shabby jogging suit with a baroque collar round his neck and his hair is fuzzy. That emphasises his oddity – childishness and naïve emotional sincerity. To show emotions does not pay off… And who is today the Big Inquisitor who rules and punishes? It is a surprise.
Martina Vannayová

“The text was changed in a way that nobody is not alone anymore; it seems that everybody observes the other one.”

“If Schiller had written his play today, he would have written it as Nicolas Stemann staged it.”
Berliner Zeitung



directed by Nicolas Stemann
stage design: Katrin Nottrodt
dramaturgy: Bernd Stegemann
lights: Olaf Freese
masks: Andreas Müller
costumes: Esther Bialas
music: Arvild Baud
video: Claudia Lehmann
characters and cast: Phillip II.: Ingo Hülsmann, Elizabeth of Valois, his wife: Katharina Schmalenberg, Don Carlos, crown prince: Philipp Hochmair, Princesse of Eboli: Constanze Becker,  Marquis of Posa, Maltese chevalier: Alexander Khuon,  Herzog of Alba: Henning Vogt, Count of Lerma: Michael Gerber, Domingo Domingo: Stefan Kaminski, Claire Eugenia, crown princess: Nathalie Möckel / Melina Schönemann


Nicolas Stemann (1968). After studying Philosophy and Literature, he became director’s assistant at the Schauspielhaus Hamburg. He studied Direction at the Max Reinhartd Seminar in Vienna and at The Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts in Hamburg. In 1996, Stemann founded “Stemann Group” and presented independent projects – among them Zombie 45 – On the Bass Plays Adolf Hitler and Terror Trilogy (1997). His theatre video project Werther! has been introduced in Germany and around the world over 500 times. Other productions such as Shakespeare´s Hamlet (Schauspielhaus Hamburg), Das Werk (Burgtheater Vienna) and Ulrike Maria Stuart (Thalia Theater Hamburg), both by Elfriede Jelinek, were presented at the prestigious Berlin Theatertreffen and at the other international festivals. At the Deutsches Theater Berlin, Nicolas Stemann staged Kate of Heilbronn by Heinrich von Kleist and Über Tiere by Elfriede Jelinek.



Materials available

Script of the production: DE, EN

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