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GOLEM oder DER ÜBERFLÜSSIGE MENSCH

by Gernot Grünewald after themes by Karel Čapek, Ray Kurzweil, Stanisław Lem
WORLD PREMIERE

Director:  Gernot Grünewald
Stage & costumes: Michael Köpke
Music: Dominik Dittrich
Video: Jonas Plümke
Dramaturgy: Tobias Schuster

Premiere September 28, 2017
 
Are we at the beginning of a new era? Gernot Grünewald is linking the Golem myth to literary manifestos of trans-humanism and creates a musical collage of texts that opens up a disturbing vision of the future: a world after human beings.

Automats, humunculi, robots, androids: The dream of the artificial human is almost as old as human mankind itself. Through all of cultural history this kind of mysterious creatures have always exuded an enormours fascination for us sorcerer’s apprentices. They reflect the longing to transcend our borders and to become Makers ourselves. Prometheus stole fire from the gods to found human civilisation, Daedalus and Icarus fell victims to their own hybris because they didn’t want to accept that humans cannot fly. In a text from the Jewish Kabbalah from the 12th century a ritual is described for the first time that helps transforming a shapeless lump of clay into a living being: The legend of Golem and the myth of the creation of artificial life was born. The city of Prague became in many aspects the centre of the Golem myth. In order to protect his community from attacks, Rabbi Judah Löw from Prague created an artificial protective patron for the Jews, an archaic work robot that was made alive through a religious ritual and could also be deactivated.The legend goes that the Golem got out of control and became a deadly danger, not least for his creator. Straight through the history of literature the Golem motiv was taken up in order to measure the tension-filled relation between humans and their creation. Later on progress becomes danger in Mary Shelly’s „Frankenstein“ where the monster takes revenge against his creator.With the progressing scientific development the questions after ambivalence and the risks of progress become more and more complex. In our present time digitalisation is regarded as one of the biggest social challenges regarding the future of work. For a long time the automatisation of production processes has been causing fear of a drastic rise of unemployment. Is the technical progress curse or blessing? Are we creating a utopia beyond gainful employment or are we heading for a social horror scenario of unknown mass unemployment with according distortions as various scientists fear?
 
Already in 1920 the Czech playwright Karel Čapek imagined the end of humanity referring to the Golem myth. In his play „Rossum’s Universal Robots“ he shows a company where artificial workers have taken over work from the humans – in order to rebell against the masters and to finally erase them. With this play Čapek invents – derived from the Czech word „robot“ for work – the word „robot“ that has become integral part oft he international language use. His work that is nowadays almost completely forgotten reads today – almost 100 years after it has been written – like a visionary panorama of our current fears of the end of gainful employment. In the 21st century it is not only the future of work that is on trial but in the eyes of many futurologists the quality of human life in general. What would happen if soon an artificial intelligence was smarter than its creator?

For the theorists of transhumanism around Ray Kurzweil, the head of technical development at Google, the overhaul of humans by his own creation is quite a realistic scenario. Considering the fact that the computing capacity of customary computers has grown at least exponentially since the 1940s, the thesis that their capacity will one day exceed that of the human brain is not unreasonable. Kurzweil calls this moment „technological singularity“. Could we in that case break away from our delicate bodies, even become immortal by uploading our consciousness into a cloud? Or will a completely new species replace the superfluous humans? Are the Golems of the future computers, bodyless algorithms, a super-intelligence, far smarter than all humans together, as the Polish futurist Stanisław Lem suggests in his novel „Golem XIV“?

With suggestive images director Gernot Grünewald will blend the Golem myth and his literary adaptions with texts of the trans-humanists around Ray Kurzweil into a musical collage of texts. The laureate of Kurt-Hübner-Regiepreis was born in Stuttgart in 1978 and directs regularly at Thalia Theater Hamburg and Deutsches Theater Berlin. Earlier works at Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Theater Bremen, Schauspiel Frankfurt and Theater Lübeck. He frequently combines recherche material with literary fragments creating highly complex theatrical textures of great visual power.

Pressestimmen

„Der Abend erzählt vom Ende der menschlichen Zivilisation, die den Kreaturen, die sie erschuf, zum Opfer fiel. Der Abgesang nimmt auf der Bühne sakrale Züge an.“ WIENER ZEITUNG
 
GOLEM oder DER ÜBERFLÜSSIGE MENSCH ist ein reizvolles Gedankenspiel. Die Bilder sind gigantisch, die Diskussionen eröffnet. Mehr kann man von einem Theaterabend nicht erwarten." Mottingers Meinung
 
„Die Uraufführung der Digitaldystopie GOLEM unter Regie von Gernot Grünewald, der auch für das Buch zuständig ist, hatte wenig für das traditionelle Schauspiel übrig. Als im Theaterraum durchgeführte Performance funktionierte sie dennoch wunderbar.“ KURIER
 
„In chorischer Form exekutieren Nicolaas van Diepen, Steffen Link und Vassilissa Reznikoff die Textfragmente, die (einst abstrus scheinenden) Visionen der Utopisten, die Sprachbilder einer sich mehr und mehr selbstständig wie unsicher machenden Technologie. (…) Ob der Mensch die Geister, die er rief los wird, muss sich weisen: Grünewald sieht in seinem gelungenen Theaterabend eher schwarz!“ KRONEN ZEITUNG

"Die Darsteller*innen stehen in einem großen, runden Wasserbecken (großartiges Bühnenbild: Michael Köpke) und führen Rituale aus. (…) Dunkel ist es, ein Feuer brennt, aus Lehm wird der Golem geschaffen, ein stummes menschenähnliches Wesen, das Aufträge ausführen soll. Ein erster Roboter. (…) Das Dystopische Requiem – zum Schluss werden die Menschen von Maschinen kontrolliert – ist atmosphärisch stark“ FALTER

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