Kohlhaas (after Heinrich von Kleist)

Guest Performance by Lachende Bestien

Ein Stück: Tschechien – Festival for New Czech Theatre 2023

Sunday, 12th November, 2023 | 8 pm

Theater unterm Dach, Danziger Str. 101, 10405 Berlin

Tickets can be booked through Theater unterm Dach unter diesem Link.

Kohlhaas (after Heinrich von Kleist), from left Šimon Spišák, Michal Hába and Simona Hába Zmrzlá | Photo: Lachende Bestien

Kleist’s hero, Michael Kohlhaas, breaks the law and resorts to violence in his struggle for justice. The theatre company Lachende Bestien, explodes the confines of interpretation and adds a new twist to the plot. How can we deal with injustice? And can violence ever be justified?

With Kohlhaas, Lachende Bestien continue to focus on dramatic writing in theatre, highlighting, estranging and subverting the boundaries between the personal and the political. Using Brechtian principles, the company playfully interprets the play, making the theatre itself the material of their performance.

An eco-terrorist play – in disguise.
Lachende Bestien repeatedly return to “Kohlhaas motifs.” Heinrich von Kleist’s novel tells the story of a man who is wronged. In the pursuit of redress through legal means, a time comes when these legal means are no longer enough. In his fight for justice, Michael Kohlhaas breaks the law and uses violence. Lachende Bestien break with traditional interpretations and put forward an original commentary. The play is not a study of a person becoming a terrorist. Or a partisan. Or a revolutionary. But it could be.

Horses will appear on stage – in disguise.
Violence will be called for on stage – in disguise.
The law will be broken on stage – in disguise?

In Kohlhaas, Lachende Bestien continue to strive for an original form of theatre that demonstrates, alienates, and breaks down the clear boundaries between the personal and political, between alternative and dramatic theatre. They build on the principles of Brechtian theatre today, playing an interpretative game with the original text, and using the theatre itself as material.

Conceived and Directed by: Michal Hába, Šimon Spišák
Dramaturg: Veronika Linka
Music: Jindřich Čížek
Stage and Costume Design: Adriana Černá
Performers: Jindřich Čížek, Michal Hába, Simona Hába Zmrzlá, Šimon Spišák
Producer: Hana Svobodová

Premiere: 20.01.2022

In Czech with English and German surtitles. Followed by a talk with the artists.

Surtitles: Martina Lisa (DE) and Ema Katrovas (EN), editing and matrix: Barbora Schnelle and Henning Bochert. In collaboration with PANTHEA / t5 SPECTITULAR GmbH.

Lachende Bestien

The Prague-based alternative theatre group Lachende Bestien was formed around director Michal Hába, musician Jindřich Čížek and set designer Adriana Černá in 2011. It is considered to be one of the most progressive theatre groups in Prague. The ensemble was founded in the Eliade Library of the
Divadlo Na zábradlí (On the banister Theatre) in Prague, where they presented their first production 120 Days of Freedom (Nová síť Award for performer Michal Hába), a variation on de Sade’s controversial novel, which dealt with the limits of imagination. This production became emblematic
of the group’s work, which aims to go “against the viewer’s guts” and invites active dialogue. Other important productions include the Czech premiere of Werner Schwab’s Pornogeographie (Josep Balvín Award) or the Havelian production Ferdinand! (Ferdinande!), following the spirit of Havel’s one-act plays in exploring the topic of the intellectual in the public sphere. In 2017, the company staged an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan, entitled SEZUAN (based on Brecht), in a grotesquely alienating style. Their repertoire mostly includes original projects, but they also adapt “traditional” theatre texts – such as Ibsen’s Enemy of the People (2019) or Roman Sikora’s Castle on the Loire (2020). The style of the Lachende Bestien company strongly relies on the music and live performances of composer and multi-instrumentalist Jindřich Čížek. Lachende Bestien continue the tradition of Brechtian theater not only through their alienating style of acting, but especially with their analytical view of reality. In their projects, they explore and question the idea of ​​capitalism and take a programmatic approach to social inequality. The result of this is a socially critical and appealing theatre, full of self-irony and biting humour.

The group Lachende Bestien performs in Prague at the X10 Theatre.

Artistic Directors and Production Managers of the Ein Stück: Tschechien Festival: Barbora Schnelle and Henning Bochert

Press: Augustin PR

A production by Drama Panorama: Forum für Übersetzung und Theater e. V. in collaboration with the Czech Centre Berlin, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Berlin and the Theater unterm Dach Berlin, funded by the Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery, the Czech-German Fund for the Future and the Culture Ministry of the Czech Republic with the Plán národní obnovy programme.

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