Viol (Rape)
Luc Bondy has long appreciated the writings of Botho Strauss, and Strauss' work suits Bondy. Tasteful staging, a skeptical intelligence, curious and active pessimism, so many characteristics that Bondy superbly highlighted in memorable shows at the Schaubühne, such as Time and the Room in 1989 or Equilibrium in 1993. His French-language production, in a very beautiful translation done with Michel Vinaver, of Strauss' latest work (the most performed living German author in the world) is aided by an exceptional cast and promises to be a major event. In this piece, Botho Strauss has a lot to say about our times in his own direct and oblique way. Direct: his brutality has no reason to be jealous of certain theatrical nightmares of late, and his exploration of modern day violence isn't less explicit. Oblique: Botho Strauss, who first made his name, before writing his own plays, for the mastery of his translations and adaptations for Peter Stein, here uses some extraordinary dramatic material - Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus - partly for inspiration, partly to add fascinating touch-ups and plot twists that fans of the original play will surely appreciate: that of appreciating how the dramatic invention of a great modern writer gets its depth by returning to the poem which nourished it.

Luc Bondy will not present merely a simplified version of Titus Andronicus, but a reading and re-creation done with formal liberty worthy of the disturbing savagery of the original story, modified (and intensified) on certain decisive points. For example, Shakespeare's version stages the horror by using theatrical arms of excess, but this leaves intact, amidst the stain and abjection, a final burst of innocence, probably the pure sacrificial victim. Botho Strauss' version liquidates this, as shown in his treatment of Lavinia; in her suffering and alienation, the young woman, raped and mutilated, does with her body what she wishes, reinventing a voice that can belong to her and choosing what her father, Titus, would call ignominy. Titus is constantly overwhelmed and almost divested of the drama's story. And as the title suggests, there is no longer a main character. If there is one, it's no longer an old Roman hero who sacrificed everything for his country, including his own son, but a general process at work on all levels of the action and as far as its "objective" or aesthetic reception: the Schändung.

In German, this word - which furnishes Botho Strauss with the play's title - signifies the profanation, but also the disfiguration, the degradation. The victim of Schändung can be the world -think (for example) of pollution; it could be a human being -think of mutilation or rape. Making oneself guilty of Schändung is to commit an act that is excessive, blemished and a form of torture. An atrocity that unleashes such powerful shame and opprobrium that the devastating effects don't take long to spread. Such a crime doesn't simply consist of crossing a limit. Transgression, in this case, means first touching, spoiling through a contact that infringes and wants to infringe violently, irreparably, on someone's integrity. In the work of Botho Strauss, its effects can be felt everywhere. As if there were no more protective limits. As if no being was protected from attack by another being, but that all were abandoned, without recourse or defense, to menacing threats, the atrocious possibility of some kind of universal penetration, exposed at any moment to being pierced, hunted down, forced in their now helpless privacy by an obscene and mortal monstrosity.

What the Schändung makes appear is precisely this disturbing truth that there is no boundary before it - that the destiny of the Schändung doesn't simply consist of going too far, but of going even further, spreading endlessly, and maybe even propagating its contagion in us. Who knows what the audience might experience? What can we think of the links between the aesthetic delight in front of the work and the terror and pity aroused by its contents? Does it only deal with horror and reprobation, or rather, isn't this horror (sometimes hidden by laughter when faced by the excess of excess) partly provoked by the black mirror the play sets before us?

If the Schändung has a secret power of fascination, does it mean that its horror is reproduced in each of us and gives birth to monsters, one of these monsters being the drama entitled Titus? The latest theatrical bomb from Botho Strauss explodes with all these questions. Exploring the power of outrage, the many tensions that Schändung weaves - between limits and their infringement, between thought and action, between crime and enjoyment - expresses in terms of furor something of the insanity and the freedom of desire.


Berthier grande salle

France

Berthier grande salle

October 06 2005 to November 19 2005

Viol (Rape)

Strauss Botho

after William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

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  • Viol (Rape) | © D.R.
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  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
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  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
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  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
    © Ruth Walz
  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
    © Ruth Walz
  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
    © Ruth Walz
  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
    © Ruth Walz
  • Viol (Rape) | © Ruth Walz
    © Ruth Walz

Luc Bondy has long appreciated the writings of Botho Strauss, and Strauss' work suits Bondy. Tasteful staging, a skeptical intelligence, curious and active pessimism, so many characteristics that Bondy superbly highlighted in memorable shows at the Schaubühne, such as Time and the Room in 1989 or Equilibrium in 1993. His French-language production, in a very beautiful translation done with Michel Vinaver, of Strauss' latest work (the most performed living German author in the world) is aided by an exceptional cast and promises to be a major event. In this piece, Botho Strauss has a lot to say about our times in his own direct and oblique way. Direct: his brutality has no reason to be jealous of certain theatrical nightmares of late, and his exploration of modern day violence isn't less explicit. Oblique: Botho Strauss, who first made his name, before writing his own plays, for the mastery of his translations and adaptations for Peter Stein, here uses some extraordinary dramatic material - Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus - partly for inspiration, partly to add fascinating touch-ups and plot twists that fans of the original play will surely appreciate: that of appreciating how the dramatic invention of a great modern writer gets its depth by returning to the poem which nourished it.

Luc Bondy will not present merely a simplified version of Titus Andronicus, but a reading and re-creation done with formal liberty worthy of the disturbing savagery of the original story, modified (and intensified) on certain decisive points. For example, Shakespeare's version stages the horror by using theatrical arms of excess, but this leaves intact, amidst the stain and abjection, a final burst of innocence, probably the pure sacrificial victim. Botho Strauss' version liquidates this, as shown in his treatment of Lavinia; in her suffering and alienation, the young woman, raped and mutilated, does with her body what she wishes, reinventing a voice that can belong to her and choosing what her father, Titus, would call ignominy. Titus is constantly overwhelmed and almost divested of the drama's story. And as the title suggests, there is no longer a main character. If there is one, it's no longer an old Roman hero who sacrificed everything for his country, including his own son, but a general process at work on all levels of the action and as far as its "objective" or aesthetic reception: the Schändung.

In German, this word - which furnishes Botho Strauss with the play's title - signifies the profanation, but also the disfiguration, the degradation. The victim of Schändung can be the world -think (for example) of pollution; it could be a human being -think of mutilation or rape. Making oneself guilty of Schändung is to commit an act that is excessive, blemished and a form of torture. An atrocity that unleashes such powerful shame and opprobrium that the devastating effects don't take long to spread. Such a crime doesn't simply consist of crossing a limit. Transgression, in this case, means first touching, spoiling through a contact that infringes and wants to infringe violently, irreparably, on someone's integrity. In the work of Botho Strauss, its effects can be felt everywhere. As if there were no more protective limits. As if no being was protected from attack by another being, but that all were abandoned, without recourse or defense, to menacing threats, the atrocious possibility of some kind of universal penetration, exposed at any moment to being pierced, hunted down, forced in their now helpless privacy by an obscene and mortal monstrosity.

What the Schändung makes appear is precisely this disturbing truth that there is no boundary before it - that the destiny of the Schändung doesn't simply consist of going too far, but of going even further, spreading endlessly, and maybe even propagating its contagion in us. Who knows what the audience might experience? What can we think of the links between the aesthetic delight in front of the work and the terror and pity aroused by its contents? Does it only deal with horror and reprobation, or rather, isn't this horror (sometimes hidden by laughter when faced by the excess of excess) partly provoked by the black mirror the play sets before us?

If the Schändung has a secret power of fascination, does it mean that its horror is reproduced in each of us and gives birth to monsters, one of these monsters being the drama entitled Titus? The latest theatrical bomb from Botho Strauss explodes with all these questions. Exploring the power of outrage, the many tensions that Schändung weaves - between limits and their infringement, between thought and action, between crime and enjoyment - expresses in terms of furor something of the insanity and the freedom of desire.

Autour du spectacle

Credits

by BOTHO STRAUSS
directed by : LUC BONDY
translation : Michel Vinaver and Barbara Grinberg
Scenic adaptation : Luc Bondy and Daniel Loayza
scenography : Lucio Fanti
costumes : Rudy Sabounghi
lightings : Dominique Bruguière
sound : André Serré
make up / wigs: Cécile Kretschmar
special effects make up : Dominique Colladant

with Renaud Bécard, Christine Boisson, Xavier Clion, Laurence Cordier, Marie-Laure Crochant, Gérard Desarthe, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Marina Foïs, Louis Garrel, Roch Leibovici, Dörte Lyssewski, Joseph Menant, William Nadylam, Jérôme Nicolin

production : Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, Wiener Festwochen, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen 2006
Text to appear at the l'Arche publisher, sept. 2005.

Author

Botho Strauss Botho

Né à Thuringe, en RDA, en 1944, Botho Strauss est avec Heiner Müller l'auteur dramatique allemand contemporain le plus joué en Europe.

Après des études de littérature, d'histoire du théâtre et de sociologie (sa famille s'est établie en RFA en 1950), il est critique à la revue Theater Heute, puis, à 26 ans, il travaille à la Schaubühne de Berlin sous la direction de Peter Stein, en tant que dramaturge. Il traduit ou adapte Ibsen, Labiche, Gorki, mais rapidement il se met à écrire ses propres pièces.

Après 1975 il s'impose au public par ses fresques sur la solitude, l'enfermement, les situations d'incommunicabilité. La distance entre ses pièces, romans, nouvelles, est peu sensible, et ses romans ont souvent été adaptés au théâtre.

Botho Strauss conçoit en 1977 La Trilogie du revoir spécialement pour la troupe de la Schaubühne ; c'est un succès éclatant. Le choix de Berlin comme décor de la plupart de ses textes fait aussi de cette ville une métaphore de la solitude humaine.

Botho Strauss exprime moins les mouvements sociaux que l'anonymat des personnes dans la société moderne. Les personnages sont souvent les victimes de leurs espoirs déçus. Le désespoir ne conduit qu'à une lucidité malheureuse. Botho Strauss est reflet et révélateur de son temps.

En 1989 Botho Strauss reçoit le prix Georg-Büchner, la plus haute distinction littéraire en Allemagne, pour être "parvenu à transposer sur scène la vie désorientée de notre société".

Il écrit : "Quand [le théâtre] réussit, quand il utilise les comédiens pour ramener le plus lointain à une inconcevable proximité, le théâtre acquiert une beauté déconcertante, et le présent gagne des instants qui le complètent d'une manière insoupçonnée".

Strauss a été révélé en France par Claude Régy qui monte successivement La Trilogie du revoir (1978), Grand et petit (1982 à l'Odéon), Le Parc (1986).

Luc Bondy a créé Le Temps et la chambre à la Schaubühne en 1989, et Patrice Chéreau en a proposé une nouvelle mise en scène à l'Odéon en octobre 1991, dans une adaptation de Michel Vinaver.

Luc Bondy crée Viol, de Strauss d'après William Shakespeare, en octobre 2005 aux Ateliers Berthier.

Excerpt