Coproduction with Schauspiel Stuttgart
Two sisters sit in a reception room in a town hall early in the morning. A bag containing their brother’s body lies between them. Two sisters who could not be more different: one the mayor of this town; the other a left-wing activist who now runs a pub.
Until this moment, they had avoided each other as best they could. Now the pub landlady is dragging their dead brother into the town hall. She is concerned that a burial in the municipal cemetery might prove difficult. After all, the brother had committed suicide, injuring others and dragging them to their deaths with him. Was it an accidental suicide? Was he depressed? Or was he, according to the rumours now circulating, an assassin? In a bizarre way, the fight the two sisters get into is reminiscent of the conflict between Antigone and Creon.
When knocks are heard at the door, the sisters have no option but to hide the body bag as quickly as possible in the town hall chest. Throughout history, we hear in the play, many things have been disposed of in this chest. Even Luther was once forced to use it when hiding from his pursuers. There is speculation that this very receptacle was meant to transport Hitler’s body out of his Berlin bunker, as well as the tawdry notion that Stalin’s moustache was secretly kept in the chest.
The world outside quakes; nothing there ignites more easily than rumours. The mayor has impending elections to face. There is growing pressure from the streets. The memorial service for the victims is about to take place in the town hall reception room. A minute’s silence, which others including the minister plan to attend. A group of people who are thoroughly entangled with one another gather around the town hall chest, which is now decorated as a memorial altar: firstly Lerchenberg, the mayor’s worst opponent and a former left-wing lecturer, who is riding the populist wave and skilfully steering a path between agitation and meditated admonition; then Pilgrim, her personal aide, who wants to see the Crucifix finally restored to the wall of the reception room; and the mother of a victim, who has to be treated with sensitivity even though she is just a nuisance.
The group struggle to keep the minute’s silence, which ultimately comes to a head and is no longer about the dead. Each person is cooking up their own scheme in this dark comedy. The dead merely serve as an object of projection for the panic, ideological obsessions and political survival of the living. The more they want to set themselves apart, the more their mutual dependence becomes grotesquely apparent. When the silence is broken abruptly, a stillness suddenly descends over the group, rendering them speechless. Something abhorrent is revealed that nobody had expected. The situation takes a 180-degree turn. All of a sudden, the outraged (‘die Empörten’) and all the things that drive their outrage are put in a completely different light.
Theresia Walser is one of Germany’s most successful contemporary dramatists. She has received numerous prizes and awards. For her play King Kongs Töchter (King Kong’s Daughters) she was voted best German-language writer in the annual poll of critics for the magazine Theater heute. She enjoys a close collaborative partnership with Burkhard C. Kosminski, who directed many more premieres apart from The Outraged.
Burkhard C. Kosminski studied acting and directing in New York. He has served as principal stage director and a member of the artistic management at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus, director of drama at the National Theatre in Mannheim and general director of the Schauspiel Stuttgart since 2018. A special focus of his theatrical work lies in promoting contemporary writers.
Translation: Sebastian Smallshaw