If you go to the theatre to sit in the dark, hold hands and scoff toffees then HAMLETMACHINE may not be your bucket of blood. But if you like your theatre seriously adult, intellectually stimulating and downright inspiring, then HAMLETMACHINE is the show for you.
Lex Matheson, The Press
Heiner Muller is the most performed living dramatic author in Germany and HAMLETMACHINE is his most striking and controversial play. Originally from the communist German Democratic Republic, his work has been performed not only all over Germany, but also all over the world. The Christchurch production is the first performance of a Heiner Muller play in New Zealand.
George Frosher and Kurt Bildstein are the directors of the Free Theatre Munich, one of the most established alternative professional theatres in Europe. Some of their recent productions in Germany include "Macbeth", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Medea". They have also worked in Britain, the USA, Brazil and Israel.
They are in Christchurch at the invitation of Free Theatre Christchurch and their two month visit has been supported by the Goethe Institut with the support of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. Most of the actors are students from the University of Canterbury Drama Programme.
HAMLETMACHINE is not a true adaption of Shakespeare's play, but a reinterpretation of HAMLET for the 20th Century, in Muller's words "the shrunken head of the Hamlet tragedy". Muller regards it as a "comedy", but it also is an indictment of the failure of European civilisation and the white middle class intellectual represented by the original. In the failure of Hamlet and the revolt of Ophelia, HAMLETMACHINE points to the beginning of the disintegration of the dominant, rational European view of the world. Heiner Muller says: "The European concept of history is over, European politics of history is based on a Father principle. I see Asia as the rising of the maternal principle." Ophelia becomes Elektra and is equated with revolutionaries and "terrorists" like Rosa Luxemburg and Ulrike Meinhof. The last sentence of the play is a quotation from a member of the Charles Manson clan, "Squeaky" Fromme, who attempted to assassinate President Ford.