Rebecca Horn, Kakadu-Maske (Cockatoo Mask), 1973 · Weiße Kakadufedern, Metall, Stoff · Tate London, © Bildrecht Wien, 2021
About the production

‘How the wind touches you. Crazy. It’s just everywhere.

Feels nice. Naked is best.

All is sensitive, from head to toe.’

Two children run out of the sea and begin playing out scenes between their dead parents on the beach. This is a ritual that Charlotte and Felix have been practicing for years. In memory of their parents’ unrestrained exuberance, the ten- and eleven-year-old siblings rub their backs with sunscreen and tickle each other until they can hardly breathe. For a few short moments, all their sadness is washed away. However, their disparate needs keep rising up and interrupting the game.

While the first half of the production is characterized by the children’s unbridled imaginations, adult life forms the focus of the second half. The siblings go their separate ways. Taking the form of an octopus, Charlotte meets a diver who believes he can communicate with animals. Felix, on the other hand, tries not to grow lonely, despite a lack of empathy that has haunted him since the death of his parents.

The audience will accompany the characters over the course of several decades, sharing in their memories all the way from childhood through to old age. Over the course of the evening, the most intense reading experiences, the most intimate wishes and dreams are brought to life. We are confronted with hungry babies in enormous parking lots, injured pole-vaulters, talking octopuses, divers with a death wish, people who don’t feel aware of their own bodies, cows on their slaughter day, and ailing residents of an old people’s home who are waiting for death. They are all driven by the fear of having lost their way and a deep longing to feel truly alive.

Why do you think I hardly sleep at night? I do it on purpose. I force myself to stay awake so that I’m exhausted during the day. It’s the only way people can stand me, otherwise I overwhelm them. I’m over that now. From now on I’m going to sleep through the night.

How do I embrace a woman so that she’ll think I’m the one?
Let me try it with you and you tell me what I’m doing wrong.

Stop! First you look into her eyes.

Felix looks into Charlotte’s eyes.

Like this?

Look properly. Don’t just pretend. Look straight into my eyes, not to the side. I need to feel that you’re looking at me. Just like Dad did with Mum.

Felix looks at Charlotte.

Thorsten Lensing has been working as a freelance director since the mid-1990s. Since then, he has produced and staged 15 plays. These were created as independent productions in co-production with institutions including the Schauspielhaus Zürich, the Schauspiel Stuttgart, the Schauspiel Frankfurt, the Berliner Festspiele, the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, the Sophiensæle in Berlin, the Theater im Pumpenhaus in Münster, the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Kampnagel Hamburg, deSingel in Antwerp and the Volksbühne Berlin. After his successful stage adaptations of Fyodor M. Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (Friedrich Luft Prize for the best Berlin production of the year, 2014) and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen in 2019), Thorsten Lensing has now written his first play for the theatre – or rather, for the actors Sebastian Blomberg, André Jung, Ursina Lardi and Devid Striesow, some of whom he has been collaborating with for 20 years.

Thierry Mousset
Translation: Sebastian Smallshaw

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