12/07/2020, 18.00 – 12/10/2020, 18.00

German audio only

Youth without God

by Ödön von Horváth
directed by: Thomas Ostermeier


A recording of the Schaubühne by Carsten Woike

In a version by Thomas Ostermeier and Florian Borchmeyer

Everyday life in a provincial grammar school in totalitarian times. The far-right »rich Plebeians« party has taken power and »withdraws into the tower of dictatorship«. The citizens are being committed to a looming war, the media brought into line and the curriculum is being rewritten according to nationalistic principles. The school’s history teacher is suddenly obliged to teach a chauvinistic ideology which he rejects but which, out of fear and apathy, he does not criticise. When he nevertheless dares to deprecate the inflammatorily racist insults in pupil N’s essay, the student body and parents pounce on him and demand disciplinary action to be taken against him for his »humanitarian sentimentality« and »sabotage of the homeland«. On a school trip – a de facto military combat training completed with armed field exercises – the daily rehearsed violence finally comes to a head: in the form of a mysterious murder amongst the student body. Envy, rivalry and pupil Z’s secret affair with Eva, leader of a rebellious gang of outlaws, all seem to play a part in the motivation behind the crime. The trial, in which the judge and the state prosecutor prejudge the wrong people, fails to shed a light on the true perpetrator. It does, however, unmask the society that produced him: a panorama of ruthlessness and inhumanity whose bourgeois profiteers have ensured the smooth functioning of a totalitarian system.

With his dramatization of the novel »Youth without God«, this is the second time in quick succession that Thomas Ostermeier – following the 1931 folk play »Italian Night« – is focusing on a text from the 1930s by Ödön von Horváth which deals with the collapse of democracy and civil society. Published in German in 1937 by an exiled publishing house in Amsterdam, »Youth without God« became an overnight international sensation as the mirror image depiction of the social mechanisms under the Nazi dictatorship. However, the text does not explicitly name the time, place nor authorities in question. This allows the novel simultaneously to become a parable going beyond its historical context.

>>> Learn more about the production in Pearson's Preview: In conversation with Thomas Ostermeier



By: Ödön von Horváth
Direction: Thomas Ostermeier
Set Design: Jan Pappelbaum
Costume Design: Angelika Götz
Video Design: Sébastien Dupouey
Music: Nils Ostendorf
Dramaturgy: Florian Borchmeyer
Lighting Design: Erich Schneider

Teacher: Jörg Hartmann
Z / Minister / Police Man / Boy / Waiter: Laurenz Laufenberg
Eva / Headmistress / Girl / Mother of N / Nelly / Mother of T / Servant: Alina Stiegler
T / Inner Voice of the Teacher / Boy / Inspector / Chief Inspector / Attorney: Moritz Gottwald
Julius Caesar / B / Defender / Boy: Bernardo Arias Porras
Sergeant / Judge / Voice of the Father / Police Man / Waiter / Student / Villager / Servant: Lukas Turtur
L / Mother of Z / Inner Voice of the Teacher / Voice of the Mother / A Miss / Teacher / Forensic Scientist / Waitress / Actress: Veronika Bachfischer
N / Father of N / Mayor / Peasant / Servant of T / Chief Inspector / Waiter: Damir Avdic

Duration: ca. 120 minutes

Premiered at Salzburger Festspiele in 28 July 2019
Premiered at Schaubühne on 7 September 2019

Co-production with the Salzburg Festival