The Performances

(photographs by Katrin Dettmer)

Director's Note

From the very first, Coriolanus has struck me as a play about theatre machines. Apart from its very own textual negotiations of the theatre of politics, it has also inspired a variety of other theatre texts, which wrestle with the complex power structures depicted on and off “stage” in Coriolanus. We have invited these texts by Brecht, Müller, Grass, and Bernhard to challenge Shakespeare and be in turn challenged by Shakespeare. The deconstructed and hence re-constructed text, both of the script and the performance, are inviting you, the audience, to investigate your own assumptions of what theater is and should be. This production wants to speak of the dynamics and tensions, the work and the labor, which are invested into the theater process itself – by the performers, but also by the audience. As much as Coriolanus is a play about how politics work, the production itself will disclose its own politics in terms of producing and destroying of theater and making it thus visible as theater – a theater that is not removed or without consequence, but a theater that is immediate and visceral, producing and reproducing, sabotaging and fixing itself, a machine that includes actors, crew, and audience.

Katrin Dettmer

Impressions From A Rehearsal

Dramaturgical Note

Questions of body and voice, performative and non-performative, are central to the drama of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, and thus of course to our own production.  From the play’s earliest moments, when the patrician elder Menenius utilizes Aesop’s fable of “The Belly and its Members” to figure the Roman gentry as the life-giving center of the restless plebeians, the political and dramatic power of Shakespeare’s text is located in the corporeal bodies of its actors.  Conflict is found in the way they control and manipulate their own and one another’s beings and voices.  Thus Coriolanus’ fame as a war hero is essentialized in his bodily wounds; the democratic power of the plebeians is conveyed through their “voices”.  And in the drama’s climactic moment, the fate of Rome is secured by a mother’s bodily supplication.  These are actions of character, motivated and plot driven.  And yet, as is the subtle genius of Shakespeare’s dramatic ability, the actions of his characters are consistently problematized and questioned.  Caius Marcius is unwilling to bare his wounds to the common folk, to twist his voice and body to gain the votes of “Hob and Dick”.  The plebeians are unsure in their power of decision, allowing their elected officials to maneuver their voices against Marcius.  Thus questions of power, of ownership and responsibility, are complicated in the original text, as in our production. For what happens when one voice becomes many?  When one body is spread over five?  How can our staging here today further illuminate these innate textual complications?  Such are the questions we, Shakespeare, Müller, Brecht and even good old Thomas Bernhard pose to you, questions of staging and creating performance that remain beautifully, delightfully unanswered.

Jessica Goldschmidt

Impressions From Early Rehearsals

(photographs by Jessica Goldschmidt, Tori Harvey, and Katrin Dettmer)

Robert Creeley, Some afternoon


Why not ride

with pleasure

and take oneself

as measure,


making the world

tacit description

of what’s taken

from it


for no good reason,

the fact only.

There is a world

elsewhere, but here


the tangible faces

smile, breaking

into tangible pieces.

I see


myself and family,

and friends, and

animals attached,

the house, the road,


all go forward

in a huge

flash, shaken

with that act.


Goodbye, goodbye.

Nothing left

after the initial

blast but


some echo like this.

Only the faded

pieces of paper



Please join us tonight for our premiere!

Shakespeare - Brecht - 
Müller - Bernhard

A super theater evening! A massive theater concentration!

Thursday, 23 April 2009, 6 p.m. - Lincoln Field

A Word from Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett, Play (1963)
Directed by Anthony Minghella for Beckett on Film (2002)
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliet Stevenson, and Alan Rickman

A Word from Antonin Artaud

"The stage is a concrete physical place which asks to be filled, and to be given its own concrete language to speak. I say that this concrete language, intended for the senses and independent of speech, has first to satisfy the senses, that there is a poetry of the senses as there is a poetry of language, and that this concrete physical language to which I refer is truly theatrical only to the degree that the thoughts it expresses are beyond the reach of the spoken language. These thoughts are what words cannot express and which, far more than words, would find their ideal expression in the concrete physical language of the stage. It consists of everything that occupies the stage, everything that can be manifested and expressed materially on a stage and that is addressed first of all to the senses instead of being addressed primarily to the mind as is the language of words...creating beneath language a subterranean current of impressions, correspondences, and analogies. This poetry of language, poetry in space will be resolved precisely in the domain which does not belong strictly to words...Means of expression utilizable on the stage, such as music, dance, plastic art, pantomime, mimicry, gesticulation, intonation, architecture, lighting, and scenery...The physical possibilities of the stage offers, in order to substitute, for fixed forms of art, living and intimidating forms by which the sense of old ceremonial magic can find a new reality in the theater; to the degree that they yield to what might be called the physical temptation of the stage. Each of these means has its own intrinsic poetry."

Antonin Artaud, The Theatre And Its Double,
1958. pp. 37f.

A Word from Robert Wilson

Die Dreigroschenoper
by Bertolt Brecht, music by Kurt Weill
directed by Robert Wilson
Berliner Ensemble

A Word from Michaël Borremans

Michaël Borremans, Earthlight Room, 2008

A Word from Stephen Greenblatt

"I began with the desire to speak with the dead."

Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England.
University of California Press, 1989. p. 1.

A Word from Heiner Müller

"One could say that the basis of theater and therefore also of drama is change, and the ultimate change is death. The only thing you can get an audience to agree about, the only thing they can agree about, is the fear of death they all share. And the effect of the theater depends on this single instance of communality. In other words, theater is based on symbolic death."

Heiner Müller in conversation with Alexander Kluge,
in Kalkfeld, ed. Frank Hörnigk et al. (Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 1996), 138.