Opening Speech by Anne Weber / following „Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead“ by Complicité
by Anne Weber
Two years ago, Anne Weber was a guest at the Ruhrfestspiele with her book "Annette, ein Heldinnenepos," which had just been awarded the German Book Prize. Last year, the theatrical production of "Annette, ein Heldinnenepos," starring Corinna Harfouch, could be experienced on the Ruhrfestpiele stage. The award-winning author and translator Anne Weber, born in Offenbach in 1964, has lived in Paris since 1983. She has translated from German into French and vice versa (including Pierre Michon, Marguerite Duras, Georges Perros, and André Dhôtel). She writes in German and French.
With each new book, Anne Weber expands the possibilities of contemporary storytelling. Whether in "August. Ein bürgerliches Puppentrauerspiel" (2011), "Tal der Herrlichkeiten" (2012), "Ahnen. Ein Zeitreisetagebuch " (2015), "Kirio" (2017), or "Annette, ein Heldinnenepos" (2020), she always dares to venture into new literary territory. In an interview, Anne Weber said, "I don't separate my books into historical works on the one hand and novels on the other. The literary approach to people who really existed cannot do without imagination, just as so-called ‘invention’ cannot do without reality. The question for me is this: where lie the limits of poetic license with real persons? Are they at my mercy? Can I do what I want with them? I think not. I think we owe something to those who have lived, which can perhaps be summed up like this: we must not abuse them for our own purposes, be they literary or ideological; we must strive to do them justice." In 2021, she delivered the "Schiller Speech" at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. In 2022, she received the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for her translation of "Nevermore" by Cécile Wajsbrot and held the Heidelberg Poetikdozentur. Her poetics lecture is called "Lücken. Zwischen Zeilen-Tönen-Ländern-Sprachen-Sätzen-Wörtern, zwischen Prosa und Gedicht." Her latest book "Über gute und böse Literatur. Korrespondenz über das Schreiben" (2022) is co-written with Thomas Stangl. Therein, she fathoms the meaning of reality and fiction. She also exlores the connection between writing and morality. Following our previous speakers Judith Schalansky, Clemens Meyer, Enis Maci, and Sharon Dodua Otoo, Anne Weber will give the opening speech at this year’s Ruhrfestspiele.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Based on the novel by Olga Tokarczuk
Directed by Simon McBurney
Co-production with Complicité
I see the Earth in eclipse. I see us moving about blindly in eternal Gloom, like May bugs trapped in a box by a cruel child. It’s easy to harm and injure us, to smash up our intricately assembled, bizarre existence… I see nothing but Catastrophes. But as the Fall is the beginning, can we possibly fall even lower?’ - Janina Duszejko, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s novel of the same name, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a new work for theatre conceived and directed by Simon McBurney. Tokarczuk’s controversial, violent, genre defying novel – part thriller, part comedy, and part blistering poetic manifesto for the rights of animals and the environment – caused an uproar in its native Poland upon publication.
In the depths of winter in a small community on a remote Polish mountainside near the Czech-Polish border, men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – an eccentric older local woman, ex-engineer, environmentalist, devoted astrologer and enthusiastic translator of William Blake – has her suspicions. She has been watching the animals with whom the community share their isolated, rural home, and she believes they are acting strangely…
„Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Complicité
Adapted from the novel by Olga Tokarczuk
Directed by Simon McBurney
Set and Costume Design: Rae Smith
Lighting Design: Paule Constable
Sound Design: Christopher Shutt
Video Design: Dick Straker
Additional Direction: Kirsty Housley
Dramaturgy by Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre and Laurence Cook
Movement Direction: Toby Sedgwick
Original compositions: Richard Skelton
Assistant Director: Gemma Brockis
Associate Costume Designer Johanna Coe
Wigs Designer: Susanna Peretz
Original Novel Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
CDG Casting: Amy Ball
Cast: Thomas Arnold, Johannes Flaschberger, Amanda Hadingue, Kathryn Hunter, Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer, Weronika Maria, Tim McMullan, César Sarachu, Sophie Steer, Alexander Uzoka
Language: in English with German surtitles
A Complicité co-production with Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Supported by Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen