Ödön von Horváth Kasimir und Karoline
Folk play (1932)
Text version by 600 HIGHWAYMEN
in collaboration with Saša Čelecki
With kind support of Universität Mozarteum Salzburg and International Sommerakademie Universität Mozarteum Salzburg
Print programme (PDF)
600 HIGHWAYMEN, Direction
Anneliese Neudecker, Sets, Costumes
Brandon Wolcott, Music
A participatory play with an ensemble consisting of amateurs and actors/actresses
‘One often has such yearning inside oneself –’
A chaotic fairground. Muddy feet. Flashing lights and half-empty beer glasses. A tight throng of people. You want to have fun, but you can’t…
This summer in Salzburg, we meet Kasimir and Karoline, Ödön von Horváth’s beautifully flawed and lonely antiheroes. In a story of love and disillusionment just as palpable today as it was in the early 1930s at the time of writing, Horváth gives us the story of two young adults who come to the fairground to enjoy themselves – but can’t.
Over the course of one night and the intersection of many characters, we watch the young couple fail again and again at reconciliation. Pleasure and contentment, justice and fairness are the objects of a frustrated search. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129 is conjured: their mutual botched pursuit makes them ‘savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust/ Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight.’ Kasimir and Karoline present to us the spectacle of youthful sincerity curdling into cynicism – ‘before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.’
Horváth’s popular play evokes a political resonance beyond the star-crossed lovers’ travails. First performed in 1932 before the backdrop of growing National Socialism, Kasimir und Karoline is set during Munich’s Oktoberfest at the time of the global depression of 1929.
Abigail Browde & Michael Silverstone
At the invitation of the Salzburg Festival, the award-winning company 600 HIGHWAYMEN (Obie Award 2014 among others) and their directors Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone from New York will create a vividly contemporary reworking of this classic Austrian drama. Using a large ensemble that features individuals of various ages and backgrounds, Ödön von Horváth’s story is brought to life in an immediate and hyperreal context.
The adaptation of the original starts with the people onstage. 600 HIGHWAYMEN take Horváth at his word, so to speak: the stage play literally becomes a popular play (in German ‘Volksstück’), because the ensemble reflects today’s civil society in its heterogeneity. The new version focuses on Austria in 2017: aching to change, preemptively bitter about those changes, and yet retaining within the seed of hope.
600 HIGHWAYMEN explore with their radically inclusive works the resilience of sincerity. With their adaptation of Horváth’s youth dystopia they distil its dialogue to a terse 90 minutes, revealing a poetry of dense and lyric humanity, accessible to all in the audience and applicable to all on the stage. Thereby, Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone enact one of the most vital challenges of our times: optimism in the face of reality’s disappointment.