by Jean-Paul Sartre with a prologue and epilogue by Thomas Köck
After fifteen years in exile, Orestes returns incognito to his home city of Argos – the same city in which his father Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus on his victorious return from Troy. However, desire for revenge is not the reason for his spontaneous homecoming – it is the rumour of a mysterious plague of flies. When his sister Electra persuades him to stay, it gradually dawns on him that Clytemnestra and Aegisthus are not only cruelly oppressing the people, they have also implicated him in Agamemnon’s murder. Only then does Orestes decide to take action.
In contrast with Aeschylus’s famous «Oresteia», where a curse determines the fate of those involved, in Sartre’s play Orestes is no longer the plaything and tool of the gods – he acts of his own free will.
In his radical interpretation of the ancient myth, the French philosopher, dramatist and leading exponent of existentialism Jean-Paul Sartre shows how oppression can be overcome through resistance and free will. Ultimately no court or god is capable of declaring Orestes innocent. He accepts his guilt and – in Sartre’s words – will «continue on his way, without justification, without apology, without help, alone».
Resident director Elsa-Sophie Jach stages Sartre’s tragedy in the Cuvilliéstheater in a newly-commissioned translation.
«Once a year there is a state of exception in Argos. Society dances its guilt on the edge of a precipice. It is on this day that Orestes returns to the city, where his sister Electra is rebelling: against her mother, her father’s murder, the bizarre omnipresent deathwish and purging of ghosts. The two siblings find each other and lose themselves in a whole series of questions: Do the dead haunt the living? Is this never-ending celebration of repentance debilitating or just? Where does freedom end? Meanwhile, the flies hover like drones over their heads, above the city of Argos, scanning and harassing its inhabitants – Sartre’s flies.» Elsa-Sophie Jach
Sartre’s «The Flies» launches a reassessment of the over two thousand-year-old myth of the «Oresteia», that will continue with Ulrich Rasche’s production of Aeschylus’s «Agamemnon» and Robert Borgmann’s music theatre installation «Athena».