The production delves into the progressive schizophrenia of the German writer Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, exploring the link between the illness and the creative nature of the artist.
Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz was a pioneer of German Romanticism and considered a poet who was underestimated during his lifetime. He was the author of such plays as The Soldiers and The Tutor. Throughout his life he experienced a great deal of hardship, including financial troubles and an ill-starred fascination with Goethe's fiancée. He very likely suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and died on a Moscow street in unexplained circumstances.
The short story Lenz by Georg Büchner is a starting point for the performance staged at the National Theatre. The work, an homage to the "Sturm und Drang" poet tells about the breakthrough period in his life, analysing the personality of the poet through the perspective of Büchner and through the eyes of Lenz's guardian, Oberlin. The drama of the poet's life provides reflections on his successor's own life, on art and on the human condition in general.
Barbara Wysocka explains:
"It was not only the content but also its form that caught my interest. It is not a dramatic text, but an unfinished, irregular fragment of prose - a puzzlling text about which, just like about Lenz, we don't know much. It is not a story of a romantic poet but of an ill man at the end of his tether. The way Büchner wrote "Lenz" is closely related to to his condition, to his state of mind. Despite the third person narrative, we follow Lenz so closely that we have an impression of a first person narrative. Landscape descriptions make for a significant part of the novel; translated by the Polish poet born in 1892, Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna, they seem today really peculiar. Initially I wasn't sure about it and so tried to translate it myself, but then I decided that this way of putting it was an advantage. Its strangeness and inadequacy is parallel to Lenz's sensitivity, the way he encodes reality."
- Lenz by Georg Büchner; translation: Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna; adaptation and stage direction: Barbara Wysocka; stage design: Mirek Kaczmarek; projections: Lea Mattausch; the cast: Szymon Czacki (guest appearance), Oskar Hamerski, Modest Ruciński.
Polish premiere on the Studio stage: Feb 18, 2011. Repeat performances: February 19-22, 2011.
National Theatre of Warsaw
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