Italian Night

by Ödön von Horváth
in a version by Thomas Ostermeier and Florian Borchmeyer 
Direction: Thomas Ostermeier


Sunday in a small town. Over a game of cards in their local pub, the Social Democrats’ regional branch is planning its »Italian Night« − a »casual social gathering« with musical accompaniment and dancing designed to »bring us comrades closer together on a human level«. That, at least, is the intention of local party chairman, councillor Ammetsberger. The fact that rightwing extremist groups from across the country are flocking to the town on the same date to stage a »German Day« complete with paramilitary parades and armed field exercises does not appear to overly trouble the councillor and his party faithful. And warnings by the activist Martin from the party’s left wing about a nationalist coup and his calls to resist it are also downplayed by the comrades. They’re damned if they’re going to allow the fascists to ruin their party, never mind a young radical from their own ranks. So Martin takes it upon himself to sniff out the enemies’ plans. To this end, he sends his girlfriend Anna onto the streets to lure the fascists into conversations so that she can charm information out of them. In doing so he is accused of »forcing her to politically prostitute herself« by party comrade Karl − who meanwhile prefers to spend his time using the festivities to »convert« the politically indifferent Leni »to our ideals«, as he puts it. But Martin’s plan slides out of his control and it soon becomes clear that the fascists are about to gatecrash the Social Democrats’ »Italian Night« by force of arms.

With »Italian Night« Thomas Ostermeier focuses for the third time in a row − following »Professor Bernhardi« and »Returning to Reims« − on the emergence of an extreme right-wing populist movement. Ödön von Horváth finished his »Folk Play in Seven Scenes« in 1931 and, in it, observed with startling acuity not least the part played in the breakdown of democracy by leftists who ignore social realities and instead maul themselves in political infighting. No more than two years later, Horváth was forced to flee Germany when Hitler’s election victory was followed by storm troopers invading his family home.

>>> Essay about the production in Pearson's Preview: Looking for the Future: Ostermeier’s »Italian Night«

Interview



Direction: Thomas Ostermeier
Set Design: Nina Wetzel
Costume Design: Ann Poppel
Music: Nils Ostendorf
Dramaturgy: Florian Borchmeyer
Lighting Design: Urs Schönebaum

City Council: Bernd Hölscher / Hans-Jochen Wagner
Martin: Sebastian Schwarz
Karl: Christoph Gawenda
Leni: Veronika Bachfischer
Anna: Alina Stiegler
Wirtin: Traute Hoess
Adele: Marie Burchard
Kranz: David Ruland
Betz: Lukas Turtur
Engelbert: Johannes Flaschberger
Ein Kamerad aus Magdeburg: Konrad Singer
Faschist: Laurenz Laufenberg
Genossen von Martin: Juri Padel, Andrej Reimann, Benjamin Schröder
Erste Prostituierte, Gattin: Annedore Bauer
Zweite Prostituierte, Gattin: Inga Wolff
A child: Lioba Jacoby / Lena Niebur / Greta Preuß

Musicians: Nils Ostendorf/Antonio Palesano, Martin Klingeberg, Thomas Witte

Extras: Sandra Bourdonnec, Sophia Fabian, Marcel Frank, Hannes Fritzer, Lars Hartje, Christian Kassubeck, Konstantin Klemm, Andreas Klinger, Pia Koch, Paul Löwenstein, Michael Matuszewski, Marvin Münstermann, Michael Naroditski, Fabrice Riese, Marta Sroka, Iva Topolovec, Theresa Tripp

Duration: ca. 120 minutes

Premieres on 23 November 2018