by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s dramatic works, such as «Jedermann», were often inspired by classics of world theatre. This was also the case with «The Tower», which drew on Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s baroque verse epic «Life Is A Dream». Calderón’s play tells of how Basilio, King of Poland, is given a prophecy that Sigismund will rise up against him, so keeps him locked up like an animal in a tower. In Hofmannsthal’s new version, which is rediscovered for the stage here, the author departed radically from the Spanish original. After working on the material for several years, he produced three different drafts of «The Tower», which received its world premiere in 1928 in venues that included Munich’s Prinzregententheater. The play defied conventional dramatic criteria and is still regarded as one of the Austrian writer’s key works. Thomas Mann described it as
«a work of remarkable expressive power and chaotic in its beauty».
Set against the political shocks of the First World War and the downfall of monarchies, Hofmannsthal questions the principle of the legitimacy of power and demonstrates «the intervention of forces of chaos in an irrational order».
Nora Schlocker, Resident Director at the Residenztheater, stages this play by Hofmannsthal which seems horrifyingly topical in light of the present war in Europe.
«It is a play about upheaval, about a time of change. We look through the eyes of Sigismund, someone who has grown up removed from civilization – with ‹innocent› eyes – at a world full violence and egotism. Hofmannsthal compresses the questions ‹What is mankind, an animal?› and ‹What is power and is it ever legitimate?› into an intense dream play, a linguistic affirmation of humanity. Sigismund’s question to his father – ‹Why so much violence?› – remains unanswered in our heads.» Nora Schlocker