A Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man
Ostend – the Atlantic coast, driving snow, New Year’s Eve, in the foyer of a hotel whose best days are behind it. This is where Minetti, an old «theatre artist», ends up lonely – and yet surrounded by a group of «madmen». Or are they like minds? Celebrating, wearing masks, drunk … of whom we do not know where they come from or where they are going to – they all pass across the hotel foyer like creatures from another world… Is this a comedy? Or a tragedy?
A «lady», drinking and smoking Virginias, reveals her method of coping with New Year’s Eve (and the world in general?), a young «girl» is waiting for her «lover» and might possibly be Minetti’s last hope of escape. And then there are the hotel employees: a «concierge» and an «attendant». All of them become Minetti’s audience for his final performance.
The theatre artist Minetti is waiting for the director of the Flensburg Theatre. To mark the theatre’s two hundredth anniversary, he will perform again, once more acting the role of Shakespeare’s Lear, in a mask made for him personally by the famous painter James Ensor. He has this with him in a large suitcase, together with newspaper articles about himself, his rise and fall as an actor and director of the theatre in Lübeck – the city which he had to flee in haste.
Never acted since, thirty years of my life mis-spent in Dinkelsbühl …
and yet I never gave in, never stopped reciting Lear …
«It is madness, my lady …»
«Minetti» – the drama of an artist.
Thomas Bernhard tells of passion and delusion, of the uncompromising nature of artistic ambition, of the indifference and ignorance of both society and politicians, of an exceptional artist «falling off the world» – and of the lonely and merciless process of ageing.
In dream-like settings created by Achim Freyer, Claus Peymann – Bernhard’s collaborator, who staged the world premieres of many of his plays in Salzburg, Bochum, Vienna and Berlin, and became one of Berhard’s stage characters himself – directs for the first time at the Residenztheater in Munich.