© SF/Monika Rittershaus
About the production

‘We are not the elite! We are summerfolk in our own country… our only concern is making our lives as comfortable as possible.’

A group of educated and well-off metropolitan types spend the summer in the country and combat their crippling boredom with spirited conversations and copious amounts of alcohol. A writer comes to visit. Varvara, wife of the unscrupulous lawyer Bassov, feels attracted to him and gives the brush-off to the rich idler Ryumin, who has fallen for her. Suslov, a civil engineer, watches his wife’s affair with increasing incomprehension. Olga, a mother of several children, fluctuates between hatred for her husband, the unsuccessful director of the local hospital, and for herself. Finally, Marya, a capable doctor, falls in love with the much younger Vlas, who even returns her feelings. An aging factory owner tries in vain to make friends, and a young artist removes herself to Apollonian peaks.
Gorky’s Summerfolk demonstrates incredible potential for a future society based on contemplation. The intellectual clout of the people who gather together in the play is immense. They unravel their own existence with analytical precision and ask the right questions, but don’t act. Instead, they become entangled in the highly emotional world of their own thoughts. Sublimation takes the place of action. They long for a fulfilling future – to be redeemed by love, to have a meaningful purpose. But when confronted with unpleasant facts, they fail to react adequately. Indifference, coldness and egoism lurk underneath the surface of their sophisticated intellectual discussions. There seems to be no way out of this existential state.
In his 2003 book The Other Russia, the Russian political provocateur and writer Eduard Limonov wrote: ‘It’s not surprising that the revolution ignited after people read Gorky. Someone had to take a hammer to this world’. Indeed, Summerfolk premiered in November 1904, just months before the Russian Revolution. This gave rise to several political demonstrations in the theatre, with audience members making loud calls to overthrow the government, which led Gorky to write: ‘The performance of Summerfolk was a scandal and I’m satisfied. The play is not special, but I hit the target I was aiming for!’ His portrait of upper-class individuals and their inability to act must therefore be read as apathy in the face of their own imminent downfall. If the play had a fifth act, the end of czarist autocracy would also deprive nearly all the characters of their material livelihoods. But nothing has happened yet, leaving room for discussions of an existential nature.

The play will be staged by Evgeny Titov, born in Kazakhstan in 1980. With their images drawn from the depths of the subconscious mind, his productions bear a meticulously original stamp. Titov’s affinity to the œuvre of Maxim Gorky was instilled during his acting studies at the Theatre Arts Academy in St Petersburg and several years of acting work in Russia – after which he came to Vienna to study directing at the Max Reinhardt Seminar. His previous work, which includes productions for the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Staatstheater Wiesbaden and Landestheater Linz, has attracted great interest among audiences and critics. He makes his debut as an opera director at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden in 2020 and at the Komische Oper Berlin in 2021.

Janine Ortiz
Translation: Sebastian Smallshaw

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How do I get to the Perner-Insel in Hallein?
On performance days, a free shuttle service from Salzburg to the Perner-Insel in Hallein and back is available for visitors. The bus leaves at the Reichenhaller Straße Number 4 one hour before the start of the performance. Tickets are available free of charge upon boarding the bus. The return bus leaves directly after the end of the performance. The bus departs from the frontyard of the Saline, in front of the Verdampferturm (former evapolation tower).

If you are driving, there is a fee-paying parking lot on the Perner-Insel. You can purchase a parking ticket for EUR 2, - in the courtyard. The tickets are sold next to the stall selling programmes and is signposted. By purchasing your parking ticket there, you save yourself the way to the ticket machine and can immediately drive out the parking lot following the end of the performance.
When does the box office open on the Perner-Insel?
The box office opens one hour before the start of the performance.
What food is there on offer at the Perner-Insel?
In the courtyard as well as around the Perner-Island, spoil yourself with culinary delights by local restaurateurs before the performance as well as during the performance break.


1. August 2019
Summerfolk 2019

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