Götz von Berlichingenby Johann Wolfgang Goethe adapted by Alexander Eisenach
by Johann Wolfgang Goethe adapted by Alexander Eisenach
When Goethe set «Götz von Berlichingen» down on paper in 1771 in a true writing frenzy, the 22-year-old writer was still a complete unknown. This came to an abrupt end with the publication of «Götz», as suddenly the young poet was being talked about everywhere. Goethe’s early work is a powerful stage epic with over fifty locations, several plots running in parallel and a huge cast of characters. What is more: Goethe dispensed with all the customary conventions that 18th century drama had been using up to that point. Influenced by Shakespeare’s open dramaturgy, his «Götz» set the stylistic tone for a whole epoch: Sturm und Drang. Goethe’s source was the life of the knight Gottfried von Berlichingen (1480–1562), who was unwilling to bow to incipient social changes and continued to cling to the long-outdated medieval notion of chivalry. Goethe turned his restorative figurehead into a freedom-fighter who opposed a system of feudal and clerical despotism with an «iron fist». «Götz von Berlichingen» is Goethe’s reckoning with the absolutism of his time, culminating in the famous «Swabian greeting»:
«Tell him he can kiss my arse!»
For writer and director Alexander Eisenach, however, Götz is a character closer to outraged reactionaries rather than a genuine revolutionary: «History seems to be about to pass someone by who has always seen his life as a heroic narrative. Götz is symptomatic of a mankind that in its hubris has become removed from itself and the planet it inhabits. A species that considers itself divine and believes that everything should submit to its regency. Who would have thought it possible that democracy could become so unstable once again? Götz is the temptation of the irrational, the thrill of transgression and the shaman of rage.» Alexander Eisenach
After «One Against All» and «The Shipwreck of the Frigate Medusa», «Götz von Berlichingen» is Alexander Eisenach’s third work for the Residenztheater.