Curzio Malaparte, who was a war correspondent for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera at the time, had dinner with Hans Frank, “the butcher of Poland,” and his wife Brigitte at Wawel Castle in Krakow. The banquet with a royal face, served by the “German King of Poland”, was followed by a visit to the Warsaw ghetto. Between attraction and repulsion, the journalist talks about World War II and, in his 1944 report “Cabot”, commits acts of violence in horrific images. The fascist critic of Nazism enjoyed the presence of leaders in Lapland, Poland, Croatia and Leningrad. In his experience report, he describes how he made sarcastic remarks about war criminals in conversation in order to expose them to ridicule in his publications.
“Naked German men seem strangely defenseless,” he says, looking at the pink bellies of soldiers in Lapland as they take a steam bath. “Your true skin is the uniform. If the peoples of Europe knew what the weak, defenseless, and dead nakedness hides beneath the gray field of German uniforms, the German army would no longer inspire fear in even the weakest and less well-armed.” , holding a birch rod, and then in Hitler’s salute to their boss. But even the stern gesture did not make their soft and frail bodies take shape. “The face of these men, serious and ruthless, just a German face, formed a strange contrast with these white and bare limbs, almost like a mask.”
The soldiers of the Thirty Years’ War are no longer rosy, but drenched in blood and with their wounds exploding, standing to the edge of the platform. Their bodies are already injured, in places where the interior protrudes and penetrates the protective barrier of the skin. The embodied pieces of flesh wear hard masks through which each word must be pressed into the prelude to “Wallstein”. Waxed faces, raw bodies, and majestic verses bridge the gap between the post-violence of the individual in a war economy and the individual’s call to honor, justice, and the motherland. The momentum of the battle unfolds over the course of seven hours: Frank Castorff, working in the Dresden State Theater for the first time, relays Friedrich Schiller’s expanded text from “Camp Wallenstein” to “Picolomini” to “Death of Wallenstein”. Broken through the world war panorama at Malaparte, the picture shows a self-consumed Europe as authoritarianism and patriarchy rage.
After the disguised introduction, the half-dead soldiers run around the stage-defining army hill. Theatrical designer Alexander Dinech designed the rotating structure, in front of which the curtain is closed by a double-headed eagle. The flags of the warring parties are raised from its summit. A video presentation shows how the men, hiding behind the dome, eat from empty trays – and bite each other.
How to ensure the reproduction of the army is a central question in the war. The Farmer and the Boy, played by Henriette Holzel and Krimhild Hamann, complain about the devastation the army is causing them. Wallenstein gathered a large army under his command that was able to extort the surrounding area with its power, if possible without destroying the foundation of life.
Malaparte advised the Governor-General of Poland: “If you want to win the war, you cannot destroy the home of the worker. You cannot destroy machinery, workshops, and industries. […] You can also destroy the motherland of the nobility and the bourgeoisie in all the other European countries that it occupied, but not the homeland of the workers. He said, and allowed her not to hurt her more.
While the soldiers were discussing the relationship between loyalty and pay, Henriette Holzel, who now plays the maid, gives birth to a child. With a sore face, she pulls herself across the stage into a room covered in blue wallpaper the audience can’t see. Through the projection, you witness the birth of a human being lasting half an hour in agony. Hölzel, surrounded only by women, puts in physical effort while screaming and pushing. She approaches midwives as if she had to protect her child from others. Wide, non-blinking eyes staring hard at the camera. The chattering chorus of women, supporting the scene, breaks their nervous gaze.
Then the bloodstained doll finally sees the light of day and receives her fateful saying as a child in the camp. A little soldier can become anything as long as the war continues. And the actresses sing him songs about his future: “Farewell, comrades, on horseback, on horseback, / In the field, to freedom; / In the field, a man is still worth something, / There the heart still weighs.
Now the man who united the armies finally appears, who seemed to the emperor on an equal footing and was sure of victory. Wellenstein, performed by Gotze Schubert, meets his wife, who has just returned from Vienna. In a dome decorated with sun and stars, based on the woodcut “Wanderer am Weltenrand” from the late 19th century, which has been associated with enlightenment, the duchess lists magic numbers and zodiac signs. As in the well-known idea, the Duchess performed by Nadia Stubinger tries to pierce the sky with her head in order to learn about immortality. Despite positive signs for the future, Wallenstein’s star in court is sinking, according to his wife.
Their exchange is like rape. Male and female roles cannot converge in this production without evoking excessive sexual tension, which usually turns into male violence. There is no doubt that officers and soldiers are patriarchal men who must exclude and negate everything that is feminine in themselves, but this dynamic is too one-sided to serve as a critique of masculinity. In this production, the woman may only appear as the subject of desire.
“Boys will be boys” is the basic stated position, the destructive power of which is only superficially criticized. The comical avatar of this poisoned phrase is a scene in which military leaders chase each other like children with miniature tanks. After the appearance of Octavio Piccolomini, who will intrigue against Wallenstein, who is no longer loved, a violent clash ensues, in which the war continues.
The strong group plays Schiller’s material surprisingly streak in the hours after the break. The clock is approaching zero and the text message comments are increasing. The actors seem exhausted, even in the audience some heads rest on the shoulders of the neighbors. Before Wallenstein’s long-awaited death, production returns to Malaparte and shows frozen horses in Lake Ladoga in Russia. The open historical context in this way can extend into the present and make comments on current events unnecessary. Putin’s name is mentioned only once in a row with Hitler and Mussolini. This reference is striking in the production context for its breach, but it doesn’t compare to the pathetic ending.
Unfortunately, the curtain did not fall on Wallenstein’s death. Equipped with feathers and headdresses, the indigenous Mexican Zapatista movement calls for peaceful resistance. “My name is a human being.” With an attempt to send a clear message, the evening slips into cliched groups just before one o’clock. Rather than enduring the contradictions of a false confrontation between liberal values and growing authoritarianism, this end point offers a moral way out that does not do justice to the level of reflection of the past few hours.
The following shows: 23.4 and 14. and 26.5.