Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, Germany, 2008
Author: Simon Stephens
Directed by Sebastian Nübling

about the production

London – the city of euphoria and fear. July 2005. In the Hyde Park, and in 10 other places throughout the world, the Live8 concert is going on. Bob Geldof, Robbie Williams, Madonna and others are “saving” the third world. “Let the promises be turned into reality” – says the motto of this gigantic media event. The Londoners are having fun; they have just been told that their city will be hosting the Summer Olympic Games in 2012. A few days later, sadness and fear rule the city. Bomb explosions in the tube and a bus spoilt the people’s euphoria in a minute.

Simon Stephens, a young successful British playwright, was inspired by these situations and wrote a terrific commentary concerning the period which is less safe the more it tries to be safer. Stephens leaves the characters to speak of their every-day lives in work and in their families. What may seem quite ordinary turns slowly into an apocalyptic picture of every-day violence and feeling of loneliness, composed of the fragments of their stories. No big theses, no big statements, only the every-day reality, common, but still so chilling human stories.

There is nothing in which these Londoners differ from citizens of any other city in the world.

A young mother is abused in her work, therefore she decides to reveal the company’s secrets, a teacher pays his former student for a striptease, a woman asks for food in the street, two siblings long for understanding… The stories intermingle. Stephens wrote this play in the form which allows directors to compose its textual fragments according to their opinions. Sebastian Nübling leaves the mutually unknown characters together on the stage for the whole time. It is one of his directing means – by this he metaphorizes the connection of the incompatible, so typical for today’s big cities. The leitmotif of the acts happening on the stage is a creation of a picture from a giant jigsaw puzzle. It is the picture called The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel. The stage design by Muriel Gerstner is excellent.

Stephens and Nübling do not depict terrorist attacks in a direct way and that is why the play is even more impressive. It is actually freed from any clichés which are so dangerous for theatre (and life). Stephens is interested in the structure of violence. What is surprising is the fact that the attack was performed by men who were citizens of Great Britain. They were even born there. Stephens sees the religious or cultural problem in a broader view: the difference and the decline, the putting something in the margin, is something what creates violence in society, similarly like in families and work. The aversion to the others forces to make it real. And directly in this making-it-real Stephens sees a connection with the system of pornography. “We live in pornographic times,” Stephens says.

Simons Stephens wrote this play for director Sebastian Nübling, a distinguished personality of the middle generation of German directing. He said that to find a suitable director for this play in Britain was almost impossible. Stephens´s parallels and the depth of his view, together with Nübling´s excellent directing and terrific actors of one of the best German stages – the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg – promise this drama to be a place of social discourse. The production was presented at the prestigious Theatertreffen Festival 2008 in Berlin.

“The production speaks about the abuse of power, incest, betrayal, hatred, murder, and loneliness without any apocalyptically self-satisfying tone. And about the fact that assassins are the part of the society. (Hans-Christoph Zimmermann, TAZ, die Tageszeitung)
Martina Vannayová


directed by: Sebastian Nübling
dramaturgy: Nicola Bramkamp, Regina Guhl
composer: Lars Wittershaben
stage design: Muriel Gerstner
costume design: Marion Münch
lighting: Roland Edrich
performed by: Sonja Beißwenger, Christoph Franken, Peter Knaack, Angela Müthel, Jana Schulz, Monique Schwitter, Daniel Wahl, Samuel Weiss


Sebastian Nübling (1960)
After graduating in culturology and aesthetics from Hildesheime Univerity he worked as an actor at the free group Theater Mahagoni. As a director he worked at the Junges Theater Basel and Theater Basel in Switzerland and distinguished theatres Berlin Theatertreffen, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Schauspielhannover and Münchner Kammerspiele. In 1997 he received an award at the Impuls Festival for his production Die Schaukel produced at the Junges Theater Basel. Another award – Politik im freien Theater – was given to him at the Hamburg Festival for his hooligan drama I Furiosi presented by the Staatstheater Stuttgart. In 2002 he was voted by the critics of Theater Heute magazine the offspring director of the year.

Simon Stephens (1971)
An English playwright, in recent period more and more significant in English drama. Until 2005 he worked at the Royal Court Theatre in London, which in its Programme of Young Artists presented several of his plays. Among his plays – Bluebird (1998), Herons (2001), Port (2002), One Minute (2003), Christmas (2004), Country Music (2004), On the Shore of the Wide World (2005), Motortown (2006), Pornography (2007) – he wrote also few radio plays.

Awards: Arts Council Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, 2000 Pearson Award for Best Play for Port, 2001 Olivier Award for Best New Play for On the Shore of the Wide World, 2005 German Critics in Theater Heute’s annual poll voted him Best Foreign Playwright of the Year for Motortown, 2007.


Materials available

Script of the production: SK, EN

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