A project by Tomas Schweigen
After the novel „The Other Side“ by Alfred Kubin
by Tomas Schweigen
Stage design Stephan Weber
Costumes Anne Buffetrille
Music Jacob Suske
Premiere September 29, 2016
„In a seismographic way you have sketched
the image of crucial events of our time“, wrote Ernst Jünger to his friend Alfred Kubin in 1908 after having devoured his
debut novel „The Other Side“. Nowadays one can read this novel as an auspicious escapist vision of the future. Today, as the
walls of the fortress Europe that is desperately fighting for security and wealth are crumbling. Who did not catch himself
thinking about emigrating, withdrawing into a world free of fear, terror and war in 2016? Who would not like to live free
of financial worries, without stress, undisturbed by the danger of a political, economical or individual system collapse?
Who has not pondered with concern over the question if history is repeating itself? „The Staggering Continent“ or „The Sleepwalkers“:
diagnoses of time on Kubin’s era made on the eve of world wars and fascism that might refer to our times in an eerie way.
Who would therefore not be happy about an invitation to an empire far away from all world political and economical distortions?
„Claus Patera, absolute master of the empire of dreams, commissions me as agent to hand over the invitation for a relocation
to his country.“ What a tempting promise it is that is given to the nameless protagonist at the beginning of Alfred Kubin’s
novel! Utopian prospects! His old school friend Patera is said to have founded a new state in Central Asia after becoming
sensationally rich. A land whose inhabitants can live free from all needs and sorrows of the present time. Limitless individuality
A land where everyone possesses endless resources, where money is reduced to a meaningless toy because
everything is constantly available in abundance to everyone anyway. Moreover, the empire of dreams promises the comfortable
regressive step back into the past, back into the good old times: all houses consist of fragments of historical buildings
from Europe! Modern technologies of dubious benefit that do nothing but accelerate live and cause stress have to stay outside!
Provided with a generous travel allowance of 100.000 mark in form of a cheque of unknown origin, the protagonist and his wife
set off. After several days of travelling, they arrive at a gigantic, apparently unlimited wall in thick fog – the gate to
the empire of dreams. Strangely anxious they enter the city of Perle after another train ride and nevertheless they quickly
feel at home there. But soon strange things happen: unknown craftsmen suddenly appear in their house in order to wall up the
windows. The narrator’s wife falls ill with an inexplicable disease . Patera, the host, who has actually invited them to the
empire of dreams, cannot be found anywhere. Other inhabitants report horrifying events, visions, inexplicable states of fear
that suddenly haunt them from time to time. Although the ruler remains invisible, he seems to observe and control everything
in the city. But when the multi-billion tycoon Herkules Bell shows up one day, a brutal war of everyone against everyone begins
and the idyll tumbles into its ruin…
Alfred Kubin, born in Bohemia in 1877, worked from 1900 as illustrator
and was one of the founding members of the artists‘ group „Der Blaue Reiter“ that significantly influenced the era of expressionism.
Son of a land surveyor, he was an important initiator - as visual artist as well as author of
this novel that was published in 1908 – for the surreal worlds of Franz Kafka and maintained close relationships to artists
like Wassily Kandinsky or Franz Marc. Decades before the great dystopian novels by Orwell or Huxley he drafts the scenario
of a transparent society.
His literary work is groundbreaking for the genre of phantastic literature of the 20th century.
Tomas Schweigen is opening his second season at Schauspielhaus with a surreal, enigmatic-entertaining evening
that tells of the inconsistency of political utopia. Because the inhabitants of the empire of dreams have definitely not opted
for the protection of civil rights when pondering security and liberty.
On the contrary, „Traum Perle Tod!“ leads us
into the collective unconscious of a society that isolates itself, a society whose desire for political guidance has taken
on menacing traits. This cutting satire about the buzzing acceleration of capitalism and finance ends in a cryptic fantasy
of doom of an upcoming era of human catastrophes.