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The Assistent

Play after the novel by Robert Walser

Recommended ages: 12 and above

A «simple novel that actually is not a novel at all but only an extract from everyday Swiss life » is how Robert Walser described his second major prose work. He himself worked as an «assistant» to the engineer Carl Dubler in Wädenswil am Zürichsee in 1903. Three years later Walser fashioned a poetic world out of these fragments of reality.

Walser’s literary alter ego Joseph Marti, a lonely oddball, starts working as an assistant to the engineer Carl Tobler in Bärenswil auf. Marti is made to suffer by this irascible, boastful and moody character who lives in the smart Villa Abendstern and tries to make money out of his weird inventions. He has invested his entire fortune in a promotional clock for which he cannot find a buyer. Joseph is hired as form of fundraiser, has to pacify creditors and approach new investors to finance other inventions. Hitherto excluded from prosperity due to the precarious nature of his employment, he longs for the protection and security of this bourgeois family and is forced to observe its decline and fall. Because this sanctimonious world is built on credit. Nevertheless Tobler plays the generous host and indulges himself in pleasure: he eats, drinks and smokes as if there is no tomorrow. On 1st August there is a splendid garden party with magnificent fireworks. But behind the glittering façade of this respectable family, lurk mountains of debt and deep pitfalls.  Everyone knows the threat of the family being ruined, and everyone also knows that someone in the family is guilty of violence.  But everyone remains silent and looks the other way.

Director Anita Vulesica, a long-time ensemble member at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, directs in Switzerland for the first time. In her approach to this material she will question the beautiful appearances that Walser portrays and reveal the cosy world of the perfect family to be an edifice of lies.

Preisstufe 4 (von 30.– bis 60.–)

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