Performance – Susanne Kennedy

Women in Trouble

Episodic drama Drama 150 Min English with german Surtitles

The stage turns. Angelina Dreem One is wearing a latex mask complete with long black hair. She sits on a sofa, characterised by high-gloss reality TV aesthetics, and reclines in a pose. The stage continues to turn. A second set contains fitness equipment and a spa area; Angelina Dreem Two moves through a tomographic scanner. Angelina Dreem’s life is a soap opera. But her life is also real. Angelina Dreem is sick. She has cancer. Throughout the play, new Doppelgängers of her continually appear, falling from one rabbit-hole reality into the next. Growing older; being a woman; remaining oneself; exorcising oneself again. Women in Trouble explores if there is anything left to learn. Could the next life be a better one?

“I am not the least bit interested in irony.” Susanne Kennedy, born in 1977, does not really trust theatre. Or, rather, she wants to return to its roots. So, she masks her actors and plays recorded texts as voice-overs, combatting the presence that makes the stage so weighty and, at the right moment, demonstrating that the ritual of theatre can still tell us everything after 2500 years. Kennedy is hot on the heels of death. Her opera production Orfeo (2015) had the subtitle “An Exercise in Dying” and her current production The Virgin Suicides (2017), based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name, looks back on life from the perspective of death.

Why must Medea kill her children every time, and why must Hamlet always die? “We have the need to gather in a common place to witness how people love, suffer, kill and die. Actors are like stalkers: they take us along into a ‘space of desires’. They are familiar with places where we feel alien,” maintains Kennedy. With her productions of Marieluise Fleißer’s Purgatory in Ingolstadt (2013) and Fassbinder’s Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (2014) at the Munich Kammerspiele, she became one of the most popular theatre makers in Germany. In Women in Trouble, the Doppelgängers circle about on germ-free stage sets: is it a hyper-realistic Scientology centre, virtual cancer clinic – or already the afterlife?

The idea of the Anthropocene era has preoccupied us for more than 15 years. It proposes that humankind has become a geological factor. We are not only scratching the surface of nature, but changing it profoundly. Nature and culture, creatures and technical objects constitute a novel mixture. Kennedy believes the time has come to let go: “The subject is no longer a topic! The things we have invented to represent people on the stage no longer work. To find oneself is to lose oneself.”

In her first production for Volksbühne the director has developed duplicating cabinets, in which fragmented human beings become visible in their unadorned humanity. The matrix changes with each rotation.