The Passion of a German Principaless
Here is something for you to listen to. Not something from the mouth of an educated and wise man; No ! Only from a woman, whose name you found written outside, and whose social status you must look for below the lowest strata: Because she is nothing more than a comedian…
Cast of the world premiere on 7 January 1999 at Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf
The actors in the order of their appearances:
Friederike Caroline Neuber, actress, later principaless: Kerstin Hörner
Daniel Weißenborn, notary, Neuberin’s father: Clemente FernandezJohann Neuber, craftsman, later principal: Matthias Weiland
Josef-Ferdinand Müller, actor, later principal: Clemente Fernandez
Johann Christian Spiegelberg, Principal: Francesco Russo
Madame, an acting debutante: Christiane Boian
Count Brühl, Cultural Manager at the Dresden Court: Jörg U. Lensing
Sophie Haak-Hoffmann, actress, principaless: Svenja Zschenderlein
Heinrich Gottfried Koch, actor, later principal: Clemente Fernandez
Johann Christoph Gottsched, Magister, later professor of literature: Jörg U. Lensing
Johann Friedrich Schönemann, actor, later principal: Francesco Russo
Frieda, small-part actress: Desirée Vach
Johann Sebastian Bach, composer and musician: Jörg U. Lensing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, student and author: Francesco Russo
Christiane Lorenz, actress: Desirée Vach
Dancer: Jacqueline Fischer, Mario Kubitza
Singer, Cello, Percussion: Tobias Schlierf
Soprano: Christiane Boian
Book: J.U.Lensing, Clemente Fernandez
Directed by J.U.Lensing
Choreography: Jacqueline Fischer
Composition: Johann Sebastian Bach, in an arrangement by J.U.Lensing/Tobias Schlierf
Antonio Vivaldi, in an adaptation by J.U.Lensing
Assistant director: Savina Vassiliadis
Off voices: Dieter Brandecker/Kerstin Horns
Video realisation: Martin Rottenkolber
Sound design: Jörg U. Lensing
Stage design: Savina Vassiliadis/J.U.Lensing/Udo Lensing
Costume designer: Caterina Di Fiore
Costume assistant: Constanze Lichel, Elke Goldmann
Light design: Horst Mühlberger
Choir production: Christiane Boian
Poster and program design: Ernst Merheim
Photos: Barbara Bechtloff/Oliver Eltinger
Video and sound direction: Sascha Hardt
Dramaturgical consulting: Nirupama Nityanandan
Choreographic consultation: Barbara Hampel
Architectural consulting: Susanne Annen
Artistic office: Dorothea Verheyen
About the Production
Friederike Caroline Neuber, called the “Neuberin”, was an unusual woman. She attempted during her times to establish a sophisticated bourgeois state theater, a sort of theater in between the italian elite court opera of the times and the primitive shack boulevard-theater of the marketplace. Despite the furor she managed to create in her younger years, as well as getting a few authors to write for her theater, she was pressed so hard by the male dominated competition, that she ended up losing her own theater, her troupe and lastly even her reputation.
This woman however set an example for the theater, and prepared through her efforts the path for a Lessing, who was then followed by a Goethe and a Schiller, and thereby assisted the nascency of a high level enlightened german theater. This woman affected theater history, though she has to this day -unjustifiably so- been given little recognition.
She was the pionneer of a new ensemble concept, a new handling of text, a new integration of music into the stage pieces and was the first in Germany to raise the question of the necessity of a permanent theater. She was convincing for the biggest part of her life as a brilliant actress, as well as the director of her own troupe. Much can be said and much can be connected to this very influential woman. The struggle for the sake of a conviction, caught between the interests of the court and those of the city councils in the hey-days after the thirty year war, which modeled themselves after the great paradigms of Louis the 14th and Moliere.
An impassioned woman in a time when actors were compared to vagrants and actresses passed as whores. Glory and downfall of a woman who was in the end put under by her male rivals, even her husband and her own actors. In the years 1997/98, the material was developed by authors Clemente Fernandez and J.U. Lensing into a stage play, a reflection on the life of the Neuberin from her 19th year to her death, in 24 scenes. The three and a half hour piece has been so far performed 14 times in Duesseldorf, Essen and Koeln and was in a shortened version be seen in the fall of 1999 in places where the Neuberin herself is known to have worked: Gotha, Weimar and Zwickau.
At present exists on CD a one hour condensed radio-play version of the play by J.U.Lensing, available since May 99. The multimedia production, including acting, dance, video projections, music, voice overlays and acoustic-electronic compositions, was realized in conjunction with the “ICEM der Folkwanghochschule (Folkwang University) Essen” and the “FH-Dortmund” and sponsored by the county organization “Landesarbeitskreis Multimedia und Kunst”.
The Neuberin: Press
The Duesseldorf Theater der Klaenge is back on the stage. The independent company allows the life of the Neuberin to unfold itself in a more than three hour long multimedia revue. (…) Kerstin Hoerner masters the title-role with an admirable capacity for transformation. Director Joerg U. Lensing, who worked on text with Clemente Fernandez and music, lends the patronizing count an appropriate amount of joviality. Matthias Weiland portrays Mr.Neuber and Mr. Reich-Ranicki (in a tiny episode) with spunk. The irony: the public was best entertained by the masterly Commedia dell’Arte harlequinades of Clemente Fernandez as the Neuberin’s antagonist Josef-Ferdinand Mueller.
Theater Pur, Essen
It would all have been a diligent and meticulous research project for advanced theater study seminarians, had the Theater der Klaenge not put so much energy into the scenes. This way produces a theater bursting with life, it is not a coincidence that one feels reminded of Ariane Mnouchkine’s homage to Moliere film. The turbulent harlequinades of the contemporary folk-theater owe more to the work of an outstanding actor than to dry theory, as in the many small portraits that the Lensing / Fernandez duo have sprinkled in into their libretto.
With Kerstin Hoerner in the lead as the Neuberin, there is much to be sensed about the passion for playing of this young Duesseldorf ensemble. Through the layering of scenic and musical mediums, director Joerg U. Lensing renders transparent the high requirements which needed to be met by comedians at the time.
Joerg Lensing (also director) and Clemente Fernandez have written the immaculate text in ancient, metaphorical language. Song and sensitive playing by cellist Tobias Schlierf are succinctly integrated.
The authentic story yielded the subject matter for a powerful theater event, the premiere of which took place in the Duesseldorfer Tanzhaus ( “Duesseldorf Dance House”). The episodes of a life-long struggle for career and creativity, profession and calling, seemingly very relevant to our times, are being presented in a three and a half hour long marathon. Triumph and failure of this exceptional woman (1697-1760) are conjured up just like on a baroque world theater stage, with concurrent pathos and sensually. The historic transition from folk theater of the streets and market place, to an institutionalized theater of the cities and courts, becomes subject of discussion through meaningful dialogue. Addressed to also is the conflict between the stage that considers itself as an institution for moral education, and the one that serves for mass entertainment of the senses. Reference to the competition which today’s theater experiences from the musical and cinema palaces, is obvious. In the text of ensemble members Joerg U. Lensing and Clemente Fernandez, baroque melodiousness mixes itself with bulky everyday-language. The undertaking aims to reflect on the personal experience, to hold the felt conflict in question.. “Die Neuberin” doesn’t try to be entertainment – and indeed, does not entertain. The drama definitely does not want to be a lesson – and risks everything so as not to become a seminar in German theater history. Splendid outfits, designed by Caterina Di Fiore, expressionistic dances (Jacqueline Fisher choreographed for herself and her partner short unruly intermediate pieces), video projections, lavish lights and many baroque music inserts complete and add comment to the event on the big stage. (…)
Rheinische Post, Duesseldorf
Joerg U. Lensing, the leader of the Duesseldorf Theater der Klaenge has assigned to the title figure of his youngest piece “Die Neuberin ” (with subtitle “The Passion of a German Theater Director”) a beautiful line of dialogue: “New paths are not found by looking back “. For Lensing’s theater this saying is certainly valid only up to a point. In the twelve years since their inception, the Theater der Klaenge have almost always based their work on the past. They gave new life to the “Baroque Theater of Masks”, plunged back into the middle ages with a “LUDUS DANIELIS”, tracked the German revolution of 1918 and have worked as well on numerous reconstructions of the Bauhaus dance pieces. Lensing’s “Neuberin “(…) is also in multiple ways a review. (…) The piece is rich in thought-provoking aesthetic sentences and historic parallels, without however sacrificing any of their consistency.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Theater der Klaenge have created out of this piece of theater history an exciting, highly complex, good three hour long evening (…) At first glance, dance, video-projections, scenes and music, seem to fall apart. At the base of the work however lies a very precisely composed structure as regards to content. Held together through the flow of a twelve month sequence, the cycle reminds that it has not concerned itself solely with a single fate. Texts and situations continuously reappear in variation. (…) Lensing’s text is like a score.
Die Deutsche Buehne