An electronic chamber
by Jacob Suske & Ann CottenWORLD PREMIERE
director & music: Jacob SuskePremiere December 31, 2017
Can the clockwork of hatred and revenge still be stopped?
Jacob Suske and Ann Cotten interrogate the entanglements of love and power of a dysfunctional family in their electronic chamber
Unlike any other character, Electra is the object of contradictory stories. She appears for the first
time in Homer’s „Iliad“, followed by appearances in Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, Hofmannsthal, Strauss, Hauptmann, O’Neill,
Sartre. The most diverse authors have proceeded into the deep tunnel of this curse laden family history looking for new insights
and interpretations and questioning their realities in the mirror of the ancient myth.The portrayal of Electra oscillates
between resigned heroine, jealous rival of her mother, naive instigator and honest fighter for justice and homeland. Electra,
Agamemnon’s daughter, old warhorse and conqueror of Troy, daughter of the nimble Clytemnestra: She is the link in a chain
of internal family murder cases.
Clytemnestra’s hatred for Agamemnon doesn’t seem to be unjustified since he kills her
husband as well as the son before he marries her in the end. Besides from the children Iphigenia, Chrysothemis, Electra and
Orest, that result from the marriage, the forced marriage secures the throne of Mycenae for Agamemnon.Yet the power politician
has bigger ambitions: He sets off for Troy in order to hoist the Greek flag in this town. Yet a leaden calm thwarts the trip.
The Gods of the wind want to see blood. And so Agamemnon sacrifices his oldest daughter Iphigenia: He sacrifices his family
on the altar of politics. The wind returns and with it the glorious success in the battle. The deeply hurt Clytemnestra meanwhile
uses the ten years absence of her husband to establish new power structures. She henceforth shares bed and throne with Agamemnon’s
cousin Aegisthus. Aegisthus has a bloody score to settle with Agamemnon’s family, the Atrides. The curse of the Atrides is
based on the fraternal feud between Atreus and Thyestes, the grandfathers of Agamemnon and Aegisthus, and leaves a bloody
trace from generation to generation. When Agamemnon returns from the war, the table is set and revenge is on the menu. The
machinery of hatred and revenge is running unstoppably…
Ann Cotten oscillates with delight between historical
myth and present time and focuses on the ideologies behind the actions of the characters. She examines the consequences of
long sown hatred and violent words. As starting point Cotten chooses Euripides‘ Electra version. It’s the only one where Electra
herself becomes a murderer. Years have passed since the murder of Agamemnon. At her mother’s behest Electra lives far away
from all family conflicts, married to a peasant, and bears it with patience, devotion and controlled anger. Her brother Orest
was sent into exile when he was still a child. Yet Electra’s belief in the inner justification of her hatred has not expired.
She also doesn’t want to bury the demand for power an privileges. Years go by and meanwhile Clytemnestra and Aegisthus make
Mycenae bloom in an unforeseen way. They take care of social justice, pursue peaceful politics – and keep the children away
from throne and power claims. It seems that the way is clear for a peaceful and prospering era although based on a highly
controversial ethical foundation. Yet when Orest returns one day as a Harvard educated, neo-liberal entrepreneur from the
American exile and suddenly stands in front of Electra, all dams break. The time for Electra’s reactionary revolution seems
to have come…
The lyricist Ann Cotten was born in Iowa in 1982 and grew up in Vienna. She has so far published
the books of poems „Fremdwörterbuchsonette“ (2007), „Florida-Räume“ (2011) and „Der schaudernde Fächer“ (2013) for which she
was celebrated for example by SPIEGEL as „most advanced German language lyricist of our time“. Her literary work is not only
appreciated within the literature scene, but also within visual arts and literary studies and was recently awarded with Klopstock-Preis
and Ernst-Bloch-Förderpreis. In 2016 she was nominated for her latest work, the verse epos „Verbannt!“ for the Austrian Buchpreis.
Jacob Suske has been working as musician and dramaturg at Schauspielhaus Vienna since 2015. „Electra“ is his
first work as director in Vienna. In 2015 he developed the format of „electronic chamber opera“ at Theater Luzern beginning
with „Orpheus. Factory“.
The music is electronic, the singers are ensemble members of Schauspielhaus. Pathos
is a legitimate mean and a one-woman-orchestra is sitting in the orchestra pit (live electronics: Mirella Kassowitz).
Due to directorial reasons we are unable to offer English surtitles for our production „Elektra – was ist das für
1 Morgen“. In order to make understanding the production easier, we would like to offer a printed English translation of the
text to our foreign language guests. You may pick it up for free at the box office alternatively we can email it to you in
advance. We apologise for any inconvenience and wish you a delightful visit at Schauspielhaus.