Willhelm Tell - Theater Basel - Schedule
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Premiere Schedule Ensemble


Premiere Schedule Ensemble


Premiere Schedule Ensemble

Willhelm Tell

Play by Freidrich Schiller

Eine Koproduktion des Theater Basel mit dem Schauspiel Köln. Altersempfehlung: Ab 12 Jahren

Impressed by the French revolution and the growing power of Napoleon, the German playwright Friedrich Schiller began to adapt the Swiss myth of William Tell in around 1800 – presumably inspired by Goethe, who had encountered the sagas about the confederation and its heroes on a visit to Switzerland. For Schiller the ideal revolution is a conservative one: it does not demand forced renewal or capitulation, but defends old and proven values. This is the political platform under which those who take an oath on the Rütli against the bailiff Gessler’s injustices and abuse of power unite in a confederation typical of its time. What is unusual about the Tell story is that what sparks the revolution is not politically motivated: the idiosyncratic and freedom-loving man of the woods Tell has no passion for social order or the common good. Only when he sees his family’s happiness threatened by Gessler’s deadly games, does he reach in anger for his crossbow and murder the tyrant. And so the decisive act of the revolution is carried out by someone who is independent and apolitical.

Freedom, independence and justice – those are the names of the mighty and treasured values for which a whole array of characters in ‘William Tell’ are fighting. In Schiller’s time Tell was an icon of Europe’s revolutionary movements. Today he remains the Swiss hero par excellence, put to many uses, including being subjected to outrageous twists and inversions. As a result we see political speakers adopting the mask of this liberating hero’s language in a populist manner while hollowing out his image. A potent and highly dangerous means of inciting people against any kind of openness. The Tell myth is worthy of reconsideration.  

This co-production with Schauspiel Köln is directed by the Swiss Stefan Bachmann, who returns to Theater Basel with ‘William Tell’, having previously spent four years here as Drama Director. Since 2013 Bachmann has been Artistic Director of Schauspiel Köln. The actor Bruno Cathomas will also return to Theater Basel alongside him.

Preisstufe V (Gr. Bühne)