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It is 2046. On the shores of Lake Constance a ‘tiefer Schweb’ (‘deep dive’) takes place. This is the name of the enigmatic events taking place there with increasing regularity. All government officials and their relatives have suddenly disappeared. They have retreated to a secret location, far away from the daily problems of dangerous bacteria, rising sea levels and refugees, to prepare for the inevitable. The Swiss star director Christoph Marthaler is the man behind Tiefer Schweb, which received rave reviews at the Münchner Kammerspiele in 2017. It is music theatre with Procol Harum, Simon & Garfunkel, Bach and Swiss folk songs. The piece is pervaded by Marthaler’s characteristic absurdist style, combining humour, melancholy and wonder.
The deepest point of Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is a place where mysterious things happen. Also known as ‘Tiefer Schweb’, this spot also happens to be the exact location
where the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland come together. An underwater room has been constructed there, and a group of civil servants from the Amtes für Passdokumente und Ansässigkeitsbescheinigungen (Bureau for identity papers and residence permits) descends to this space to try and come up with some solutions for the growing number of problems above water. It is 2046 and the climate problems and flows of refugees have become unmanageable.
Christoph Marthaler, one of the most important figures in contemporary musical theatre, created Tiefer Schweb at the Münchner Kammerspiele in 2017. It is an absurdist comedy about the brave attempts of the German civil servant population to map out and regulate these problems of the future. Initially, Marthaler has a lot of fun with the officialese for which this particular class is notorious. Incomprehensible phrases such as ‘sustainable redevelopment of the surface’, ‘naturalisation management training’ and ‘integration compatibility’ fly across the stage.
The further removed the language becomes from reality the more absurd the piece becomes too. The performers start to stutter, blow bubbles and move in slow motion. The air pressure in the underwater chamber is gradually raised. In the end, Marthaler shifts the focus from the words to movements and music: arias for multiple voices, popular hits and folk songs add depth and melancholy to the comedy. Tiefer Schweb marks Christoph Marthaler’s return to the Holland Festival after many years.
Christoph Marthaler (1951, Switzerland) is one of the most important contemporary directors of musical theatre. In the 1970s and 80s he worked as a theatre musician for a number of German theatres,
above all for Theater Basel. His breakthrough came in 1993, when he created the production Murx den Europäer! Murx ihn! Murx ihn! Murx ihn! Murx ihn ab! At the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Together with stage designer and regular collaborator Anna Viebrock he worked in Switzerland, East and West Berlin and at the Hamburg Schauspielhaus. Between 2000 and 2004 he led the Schauspielhaus Zürich, which was named ‘Theatre of the Year’ by German-speaking critics twice during that period. He took part in the Holland Festival six times between 1995 and 2003. More than fifteen productions by Marthaler were selected for the Berliner Theatertreffen. He has received many awards, including most recently the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennial and the Zurich Art Prize. His recent productions Tessa Blomstedt gibt nicht auf, Hallelujah, Bekannte Gefühle, Gemischte Gesichter, King Size, Das Weisse vom Ei and Isoldes Abendbrot have been shown worldwide at a variety of festivals. In 2017 Marthaler directed Die Wehleider at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg and the opera Lulu at the Staatsoper Hamburg. Starting in 2018, Marthaler will be directing the Ruhrtriennale together with intendant Stefanie Carp.
- Christoph Marthaler, Malte Ubenauf, Ueli Jäggi
- Annette Paulmann, Hassan Akkouch, Jürg Kienberger, Olivia Grigolli, Raphael Clamer, Stefan Merki, Ueli Jäggi, Walter Hess
- Christoph Marthaler
- Münchner Kammerspiele
- set design
- Duri Bischoff
- Sara Kittelmann
- Jürgen Tulzer
- musical direction
- Jürg Kienberger
- Malte Ubenauf