In German with Chinese and English surtitles
The Guardian ★★★★
The Scotsman ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
Invited to Festival d’Avignon 2015,
the 6th Lin Zhaohua Theatre Arts Festival &
Edinburgh International Festival 2016
Richard III is the first in a line of Shakespearean villains known for his moral autonomy and virtuoso art of manipulation. The Director Ostermeier tackles this Shakespeare's renowned play in a new translation by von Mayenburg that changes English verses into German prose to keep as close to the text's meaning as possible. Featuring live video, live drum music and puppetry, this traditional historical play is transformed into an extraordinary and avant-garde one that paints the portrait of a Richard III who, more than just a serial killer, also reveals the instincts hidden inside every man. The king-actor, played by Lars Eidinger, uses his gifts to do on the stage what we might want to do, sometimes, in our lives. He creates with the audience a troubling complicity that gives another meaning to this bloody, disturbing, and overwhelming epic.
There will be Meet-the-Artist sessions after the performances on 29 and 30 December. The sessions will be hosted by Vee Leong and conducted in English. All are welcome to participate.
Richard is hideous.
Born prematurely, he is a deformed, hobbling, hunchbacked cripple who, on the battlefields of the Wars of the Roses – which flared up after the death of Henry V – served his family and above all his brother, Edward, well.
Now Edward is the king, thanks to a number of murders carried out on his crippled brother’s own initiative. But the end of war brings Richard no peace. His hatred for the rest of the world, to which he will never belong, lies too deep. And so he does what he does best and kills some more, clearing away every obstacle that lies in his path to become the king.
If fate prevents him from being part of a society of those blessed by good fortune, he will at least lord over them. He plays off his rivals against each other with political cunning, unscrupulously exploits the ambitions of others for his own ends and strides spotless through an immense bloodbath until there is no one left above him and the crown is his. But even this triumph, purchased with the death of enemies, allies and relatives alike, still fails to heal the great insult nature has visited upon him.
Alone at the apex of the English kingdom, deprived of all his adversaries, he now turns his rage on his true nemesis – himself.
Original: William Shakespeare
Director: Thomas Ostermeier
Translation: Marius von Mayenburg
Stage Designer: Jan Pappelbaum
Costume Designer: Florence von Gerkan
Collaboration Costume Designer: Ralf Tristan Scezsny
Music Designer: Nils Ostendorf
Video Designer: Sébastien Dupouey
Dramaturgy: Florian Borchmeyer
Lighting Designer: Erich Schneider
Puppet Making: Ingo Mewes, Karin Tiefensee
Puppet Training: Susanne Claus, Dorothee Metz
Fight Choreography: René Lay
Live Drummer: Thomas Witte
Lars Eidinger, Moritz Gottwald, Eva Meckbach, Jenny König, Sebastian Schwarz, Robert Beyer, Thomas Bading, Bernardo Arias Porras, Christoph Gawenda
Thomas Ostermeier Director
Ostermeier is the leading new generation theatre director in Europe. He has been the Artistic Director of Schaubühne Berlin since 1999. The tone of his plays is in solid realist style. The precise but unpredictable dramatic expressions provide the plays with strong symbolic power. He boldly adapts and reconstructs the classics to reflect the reality in contemporary lives. His plays such as Hamlet, Nora, and Hedda Gabler are well acclaimed and received a number of international awards. In 2011, he received the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale for the entirety of his work.
‘(The Director Ostermeier's) dark, sardonic take on the dangerous power of Richard’s charisma is perfectly realized.’
Marius von Mayenburg Translator
Von Mayenburg is one of the best known contemporary German playwrights. He earned international recognition with works Fireface, The Stone, The Cold Child, and The Ugly One, etc., which pinpoints the social problems in contemporary German society. He received awards such as Laureate of the Young Playwrights Award, the Frankfurt Author’s Foundation Award, and the Award of the Heidelberg Art Fair. He is currently the playwright-in-residence at Schaubühne Berlin.
‘The stage of this Richard III is full of cruelty and wounds. Audience cannot help re-examining the evil side of human nature.’
Beijing Morning Post
Lars Eidinger as Richard III
Eidinger is one of the most accomplished actors in Germany. He has been a member of Schaubühne Berlin ensemble since 1999 and participated in productions including Tartuffe, Measure by Measure, Hamlet, Hedda Gabler, Lulu, and Nora. He also appeared in movies and TV series. In 2014, he received the Adolf Grimme Award of the Best Actor for his role in TV movie Border Walk. His role as Richard III was praised by The Scotsman as ‘dazzling and dangerous’.
‘Eidinger plays Richard III’s proud and autistic characteristics vividly. Natural and true feelings are revealed by his every move, which is a great theatrical achievement.’
Schaubühne Berlin was founded in 1962. One of the theatre’s distinctive features is a stylistic variety in approaches to directing. The search for a contemporary and experimental theatre language which focuses upon storytelling and a precise understanding of texts – both classical and contemporary – is a unifying element. The repertoire encompasses the great dramatic works of world literature alongside contemporary plays from internationally renowned writers. Notable productions from the Artistic Director Ostermeier include Nora, Hedda Gabler, An Enemy of the People, and The Little Foxes, etc.
The running time of the performance is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes without intermission.
Latecomers will only be admitted at a suitable break.
Tickets available from 6 October onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by Mobile Ticketing App and Credit Card Telephone Booking.
Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. (Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis.)
Group Booking Discount
10% off for each purchase of 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.
'Shakespeare Year' Package Discount
10% off for each purchase of standard tickets for both 'Shakespeare in Love by The English Concert' and 'Richard III by Schaubühne Berlin (Germany)'.
Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers. Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.
Credit Card Telephone Booking：2111 5999
Programme Enquiries：2268 7325
Ticketing Enquiries：3761 6661
Credit Card Telephone Booking：2111 5999
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.
The programme does not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Richard III is the most heinous character in all Shakespearean plays. He did not only snatch the crown by regicide, he was also a serial killer. Yet, comparing to Macbeth, another king-slayer penned by the Bart, Richard III has little internal conflict in the play. Much of the plot focuses on his attempt to take over the throne and how he eliminated dissidents – he only vaguely implied it was too late to regret after he had been betrayed by everyone and was disturbed by spirits of the dead. While Richard III is classified as a Shakespearean historical play, modern researches suggest that Richard III was not as villainous as he had been portrayed. Common knowledge in history tells us that historical accounts tend to crown the winner king and label the defeated bandit. It is therefore not surprising for a Tudor subject like Shakespeare to smears this last king of the former dynasty.
We do understand history is history, and a play is a play. The evil character in Richard III has always been preferred by directors, including Thomas Ostermeier, the artistic director of Schaubühne Berlin, a stronghold in the German theatrical circle. Ostermeier has long exhibited his extraordinary vision in theatre. He has directed many new writing plays originated from Europe, using authoritarian yet refined direction to construct the different possibilities of the text. On the other hand, he is also adept at reinterpreting classic works, employing violence to uncover the contemporary significance of the plays. For example, he once put a gun into the hands of Ibsen’s Nora, urging her to transform her decision from “whether she should leave home” to “whether she should fire her gun”. He had also paired the crowned Hamlet with an imposing suit, turning him into a worthless, fat and mad man. Converting the conflict in drama into physical violence is they key that Ostermeier uses to reveal the predatory aggressiveness of contemporary society through classic texts.
In this context, the evilness presented in Richard III shares the same direction with Ostermeier’s aesthetics. Richard III used every unscrupulous means to ascend to the throne. He seems to be evil, but Ostermeier thinks that Richard III has always played a person whose only interest is the throne. To achieve this goal, he must pretend he has no evil thoughts. In other words, the drama in this character must be played out by the actor as a person who behaves villainously but the evilness cannot be evident, otherwise, he would never be able to get the throne. In this version of Ostermeier’s, his focus is very much placed on reshaping the internal tendency of Richard III, who is inconsistent in his consciousness and behaviour and self-deceiving. As such, certain critics have pointed out that when the audience see Richard III haunted by illusions and screaming out his classic line, “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”, they can hardly consider it pleasant, satisfied and relieved. Instead, they become sympathetic to this hunchback devil.
The script is adapted by Marius von Mayenburg, a highly sought after German playwright and a long-time collaborator of Ostermeier. The Medieval English in the Shakespearean play is converted into prose in modern German. Excessive poetry-structured dialogues are removed, so that the dramatic situations of the characters are more refined. Von Mayenburg has been taking Europe by storm with new scripts such as Der Häßliche (The Ugly One). We can expect serious chemistry from the duo. Lars Eidinger, the actor who played Richard III, is a seasoned member of Schaubühne Berlin. He deliberately deforms his body in the play to interpret this classic Shakespearean villain as an autistic yet arrogant character. Amidst a loud round of applause, Eidinger recites his monologue without stopping, playing out the “self-pretending” role of Richard III to its fullest, which clandestinely echoes with the German theatrical traditions of Brecht.
As the audience engage themselves into the play, observe as an outsider and sympathise with the characters, they must also confront the human evil and what brings it here instead of unilaterally seeing the classic script as an ancient cradle of a stiff role. This is a technique often employed by Ostermeier in a reinterpreted classic work.
(Translated by Multilingual Translation Services)