Coriolanus is the second longest of Shakespeare’s plays and demands extensive cuts to meet a 90 minutes running time. Nevertheless, I believe that the play will not only forgive these cuts but will reveal itself to be the very focused affair it sets out to be. I have started to edit the script and during this process I have been time and again surprised how well Shakespeare’s text lends itself to a deconstructive approach. The fact is that Shakespeare’s rhetoric, especially in this piece, is always already critiquing itself. Especially the character of Coriolanus is a masterful construct of language, battling speech with his actions and stony silences. Yet, when he speaks, he does so with a vengeance on language itself. Although Shakespeare’s language here is rather prosaic if compared to Hamlet or Macbeth, it is nevertheless very dense, displaying concentrated imagery and a wonderful rhythm.
The production script will not only be generated out of cuts but also of additions. My main addition will be excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s conversation on Dialectic Theater and his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Not only will these inserts open up the distance to the text but also to the theater practice of the moment, thus creating a dialectic moment for the audience without dictating a certain reading of the text or a specific experience of the play. Rather, the deconstructed and hence re-constructed text, both of the script and the performance, will invite the audience to investigate their own assumptions of what theater should be. Another addition will be small excerpts from Thomas Bernhard’s Peymann-dramolettes. These vignettes are satirical insights into the theater machines, which recycle Shakespeare time and again, with Claus Peymann, the quasi-inheritor of Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble, as the antagonistic protagonist. In this way, the script will offer a genealogy of the Shakespearean theater market as well as the never-ending investment of the theater-makers to “make something out of Shakespeare.” The three text components will coexist in disharmony, yet the play with them will be fluent and voluble, showing the “textness” of all text.
Coriolanus has been staged as tragedy, satire, and comedy. Since the text allows for all these varieties of staging, I would like to embrace all of these possibilities. This production will eventually be a black comedy of deconstruction - deconstruction of text, of genre, of body, of voice, of opinion, of theater - in order to bring back the theater as theater.