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by René Pollesch

K: Why, he’s 97 and still playing?! He already played Tolstoy when he was 43. Here we go again. He plays the young Tolstoy! Therefore shaved his beard. He used to sport a grey Tolstoy beard until yesterday when he had it shaved off. The beard made him look like the old Tolstoy more than Tolstoy himself. Now he looks like an aged, clean-shaven 43-year-old Tolstoy.

Szene aus Aufstieg und Fall eines Vorhangs und sein Leben dazwischen
Szene aus Aufstieg und Fall eines Vorhangs und sein Leben dazwischen © Christian Thiel

It might have been better if we saw less of him and he’d kept the beard. But no 43-year-old Tolstoy would’ve sported such a beard, no way. And that’s just the person he impersonates. It’s insane, the theatre business. On the other hand you see young people out there made up with grey-coloured hair and black under-eyes circles to make them look ancient and tired. They’re sitting outside on the grass and you can’t seem to see enough of them, until you notice the grey hair and the weary, puffy eyes. As if all the great works had got stuck on these teenagers.

Alas, young folk! Young ancient-looking folk, while the old ones are eagerly trying to stay forever young… There must be something to this „young and old“. That’s my tuppence. There are young people, and middle-aged and older ones. There are many more, of course. But old and young, that’s definitely an issue. I’ve always had a good eye for young people, a feel for them. Somebody should build them, develop them. Sounds dreadful, I know.

Or maybe pervert them, like the philosophies of old did. The youth must be targeted. But with all these beautiful things, and all these unifieds here, there are way too few young people around. Or young adults. In the summer, they are at the lakeside, that’s marvellous. There’s music and they smoke pot and dance, and all of them look indeed marvellous. Brushing aside their grey-coloured, curtained hair, they wonder: Do I have something to say? What do I want to say and where do I stand right now? I’m in the world. Not in the theatre. Though I can’t quite put my finger on it. Where are we, the young wonder. Where are we, the old ponder…

There’s a small door out in nowhere. It is a gate. It leads to the inside of Tolstoy, inside the box where the curtain usually tarries. Only now it has decided to do a little dance. There’s a gate, apparently, and a door, and behind it we see the curtain. It’s both the beginning and the end. What are these people doing there? No! Don’t watch them! Look at the curtain! You’ve always focused on the wrong thing; on those funny characters down there. But have a look at the fabric. How it dances and moves and flows. You thought you’d be dealing with substantial stuff here, just like the stage designers did, and suddenly strange things happen like they’re happening here.

Don’t watch the archangels standing idly by at the beginning of Goethe’s Faust to declaim that the sun sings out in ancient mode and a paradisial light is interleaving with night’s awesome profound. Watch the curtain, see the wings. Look at the curtain, which seems to have all of a sudden grown wings!

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Additional information
Participating artists
René Pollesch (Text & Regie)
René Pollesch (Autor/in)
Kathrin Angerer (mit)
Susanne Bredehöft (mit)
Margarita Breitkreiz (mit)
Martin Wuttke (mit)
Frank Novak (Licht)
Klaus Dobbrick (Ton)
Jens Crull (Video)
Benjamin Hartlöhner (Musik)
Johanna Kobusch (Dramaturgie)
Volksbühne - Großes Haus