First staged in 2001, this version of Emilia Galotti is one of the most successful productions in recent German theatre. Sold out at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, it has been hailed by audiences in various German cities and on tours abroad, in cities such as Belgrade, Rome, Mexico City, Bolzano in Italy, Bogotá in Colombia, New York, Moscow, Tokyo and Winterthur in Switzerland.
Emilia Galotti will run for four days only at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Avon Theatre, Nov. 6-9. It will be presented in German with English titles, "but is such a visually compelling production that language is secondary."
According to Stratford notes, "Using stunning light and sound effects on a bare stage, Thalheimer transforms Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's classic drama, written in 1772, into a timeless modern story about the failure of communication. Everything that's said in this production is ambiguous: pledges of love, vows of revenge and proclamations of faithfulness and virtue. Only the actions speak an unequivocal language: the mute dialogue of hopelessness."
The production features actors Nina Hoss as Gräfin Orsina; Ingo Hülsmann as Marinelli; Barbara Schnitzler as Claudia Galotti; Sven Lehmann as Hettore Gonzaga; Peter Pagel as Odoardo Galotti; Henning Vogt as Graf Appiani; and Regine Zimmermann as Emilia Galotti.
It is designed by Olaf Altmann with music by Bert Wrede. Thalheimer's production "explores the gulf between words and deeds: the contradiction between the rapid-fire language, which comes fast and furious in an attempt to avert the play's incomprehensible new situation, and the actions that are born of helplessness. Everything that's said aloud is merely provisional. Now and then, when the characters themselves become aware of this, their rapid flow of words comes to an astonished halt for minutes at a time, until the whirl of actions and reactions pulls them ever closer to catastrophe."
Thalheimer brought his "radicalism" to productions of Ferenc Molnár's Liliom and Arthur Schnitzler's Liebelei; the director works his way to the very heart of Lessing's play, which is among the darkest in all of German literature.
The play "tells the story of Prince Hettore Gonzaga, who cares about nothing — except Emilia Galotti, the daughter of a pious middle-class army officer. The Prince's desire changes everything in the life of this sensible, God-fearing girl. As the play begins, it's 10 o'clock in the morning — three days after the two have met fatefully in the church. The Prince learns that Emilia is to become another man's wife in two hours' time, in a bond founded not on political or economical strategies but purely on love. Panic rushes in and miscalculations and ill-judged actions determine the course of events."
Emilia Galotti plays Nov. 6 at 8 PM; Nov. 7 at 2 PM; Nov. 8 at 2 PM; and Nov. 9 at 2 PM. For tickets contact the box office at (800) 567-1600 or visit stratfordshakespearefestival.com.