"...reminds one of the transcendent power of theatre to create images that ineradicable".
Terry MacTavish, Theatreview Dunedin
"...the kind of theatre that keeps you thinking and wanting to talk about it... gritty, provocative and stylish".
Christina Stachurski, Christchurch Star
Originally presented in 2004 in Christchurch and Wellington to critical and popular acclaim, Ella and Susn continued the company's 2009 season after a successful North Island tour of the award-winning Faust Chroma.
Directed by Peter Falkenberg, these plays by radical German playwright Herbert Achternbusch present rarely heard voices from the margins of society. In Ella a man, dressed in his mother's clothes (á la Hitchcock's Psycho), tells the story of his mother, abused and institutionalised. In Susn a young woman confesses to her priest how her first sexual experiences have caused her to want to leave the church.
In staging these works, Free Theatre Christchurch continues a 25-year reputation for presenting rarely staged plays. As with Faust Chroma, Ella and Susn were translated by the director and presented in English for the first time by the Free Theatre.
This production has received particular attention for its unusual narrative style and "rich, satisfying prose" (The Press), which is a feature of Achternbusch's unconventional and challenging work as a playwright, novelist, filmmaker, actor and painter. Despite being one of the most prolific artists of the past forty years, he remains largely unknown. His obscurity is primarily due to his unwillingness to adhere to the norms of art and society, most exemplified when he set fire to an art reward he received: a $20,000 cheque.