In the words of his great model, Novalis, Bernhard said: ‘The only way to stay alive, that is to say not to have to kill oneself, is not to think any longer, to turn away from science and art (philosophy) … When we start philosophizing and have managed to unravel a few stitches of the received reality, we are soon left with only a few loose scraps in our hands, and we understand in what absurd farce we have winded up.’
The merciless soul-searching Bernhard compels us to time and time again, fortunately not without a solid dose of humour, remains a challenge that tg STAN willingly undertakes. In 1993 Jolente De Keersmaeker and Damiaan De Schrijver created, together with Julien Schoenaerts, Gewoon Ingewikkeld (Simply Complicated) after Thomas Bernhard's Einfach Kompliziert. Inevitably, Bernhard would remain one of STAN's constant companions. Three years later De Keersmaeker and De Schrijver adapted the novel Alte Meister into a theatrical monologue, Oude Meesters (Old Masters). In 1999 was created Alles Is Rustig (All is Quiet), after Über Allen Gipfeln Ist Ruh, the first part of the Bernhard Trilogy. This play lashes out against the vanity, conceit and self-indulgence of the cultured classes and intellectuals who watch events from the sidelines spouting hollow rhetoric. In 2005 followed the second part of the trilogy, “Redde Wie Zich Redden Kan", geen slechte titel (“Devil Take the Hindmost", not a bad title) after the author's Dramolette. Even more explicitly than in Alles Is Rustig Bernhard dissects in these ‘miniature dramas’ the complicated Nazi past the Austrian and German people never really came to terms with and the latent fascism in contemporary society. In 2013 tg STAN presented the third and last part of the Bernhard trilogy, Eind Goed, Al Goed (All's Well that Ends Well) after Am Ziel. A widow and her daughter invite the young author of the play Eind Goed Al Goed in their villa at the seaside right after the play's premiere. Is the mother domineering? Is the daughter her mother's prisoner? Will the author offer any comfort?
STAN presents the three plays as a trilogy, a Bernhard marathon lasting close to six hours. What is the mutual relationship between the works, how do they influence each other?
So, STAN's Bernhard Trilogy in 2017 because Bernhard is the executioner, the greatest exaggeration artist, the virtuoso of reversal. Because he bends and breaks the language, pours salt on slugs, touches the sore spot, is an iconoclast, is a law unto himself. And because in all this he never spares himself. Bernhard, the scrutinizer of the individual, but also of politics, and above all of art and culture.
text Thomas Bernhard
by and with Jolente De Keersmaeker, Sara De Roo and Damiaan De Schrijver
lighting design Thomas Walgrave
costumes Inge Büscher