Bajazet – considering The Theatre and the Plague by Frank Castorf

Segal Center Film Festival on Theatre and Performance (FTP) 2022 presents

Bajazet – considering The Theatre and the Plague


by Frank Castorf

Country: Switzerland | Running Time: 210 | Language: French  | Year Of Release: 2019

About Bajazet – considering The Theatre and the Plague

Frank Castorf has adapted Racine and combined this material with texts by Artaud. His art of theatrical and vital immoderation explores how, when it comes to this classical French author, the tragedy of existence is born from collusions between private passions and power.


Direction and adaptation:
Frank Castorf

Aleksandar Denic

Adriana Braga Peretzki

Andreas Deinert

William Minke

Lothar Baumgarte

Assistant director:
Hanna Lasserre and Camille Logoz, Camille Roduit

Jean Racine, Antonin Artaud and additional quotes from Blaise Pascal and Fiodor Dostoïevski

Jeanne Balibar, Jean-Damien Barbin, Claire Sermonne, Mounir Margoum, Adama Diop, Andreas Deinert (video)

Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne
MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine St-Denis

ExtraPôle Région SUD* et le Grand Théâtre de Provence avec le soutien de la Friche Belle de Mai – Festival d’Automne à Paris – Théâtre National de Strasbourg – Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg, scène européenne
– TANDEM Scène nationale, Douai – Bonlieu, Scène nationale Annecy -TNA / Teatro Nacional Argentino, Teatro Cervantes – Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione

With the production, technical, communication, and administration teams at the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

This show is supported by the PEPS project in the frame of the european program, Interreg France-Suisse (2014- 2020).
Creation 30th October 2019 at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

“Frank Castorf, who for many years was the director of the renowned Volksbühne in Berlin, has now set his sights on producing Bajazet by Racine, with a team of French performers including Jeanne Balibar. Castorf has been a provocative figure in German theatre for over forty years, famous for his directing of actors at the intersecting point between grotesque and fierce intensity, his early use of video that explored its truly dramatic energy, and his dizzying adaptations of novels – especially by Dostoyevsky, with whom he shares a taste for keen social analysis, lucid and raw, borne by the energy of the desperate. His theatre is utterly committed to freely acting and thinking; it doesn’t avoid contradiction, but it totally rejects any compromise in principles.
For the first time, and in French, he is adapting a work by Racine, a dramatist that few non- Francophone artists have previously attempted. In Racine, Castorf recognises the foundation of his own theatre – the conviction that purity does not exist and that the tragedy of existence is born from the collusion between private passion and power, and between desire and contingent propositions. But they also share a belief in the power of the spoken word, theatre’s very anchor, which Racine’s heroes and heroines use to break apart the social settings that prevent them from fulfilling their desires – sexual desire and a desire for freedom – a demanding and radical spoken word, fatal if needs be. Castorf relates Racine to Artaud, another poet of vital immoderation, who uses words to extricate himself from what his birth, his body and his environment have imposed on him, in order to be reborn as himself. So from within the confines of the Sultan of Constantinople’s seraglio in Bajazet, Castorf brings together two major French poets and awakens our demons.”

About Frank Castorf

Frank Castorf began directing in the GDR, and from the outset his critical spirit exposed him to censorship. From 1992 onwards, he was the manager of the Volksbühne, the “people’s stage” in former East Berlin, where he developed a spirit of independence and a sense of the concrete social and political realities for more than thirty years.

“At 67 years of age, Frank Castorf is one of the major figures in German theatre. (…) Alongside Christoph Marthaler, Christoph Schlingensief or René Pollesch, his intense, deconstructionist, post-dramatic productions have firmly made their mark. He was one of the first to have brilliantly brought together theatre and video.”

“An agitator if ever there was one, Frank Castorf creates a profusion of disconcerting mixes and distortions, weaving texts together and encouraging actors to digress by spicing his work with light-hearted discoveries, acrobatics and jokes. In Trainspotting, the vocal and physical exercises of the frenzied clown-characters develop against a most appropriate background. But more classic texts, such as The Devil’s General by Zuckmayer, Sartre’s Dirty Hands, or more recently, Caligula by Camus, are also fodder for his chaos-machine. His deconstructive approach, however, doesn’t result in any less stimulating productions, be they brutal, frivolous, disconcerting or hard-hitting.”

“On an artistic front, the Volksbühne led by Frank Castorf was the space for a group of artists to express themselves, where each and every one, in their own way and no matter their generation, could uncompromisingly tackle concrete aspects of the aesthetic, economic and political changes of the time.
Christoph Marthaler, Andreas Kriegenburg, Christoph Schlingensief, Johann Kresnik and Meg Stuart were described by their boss as being a league of ‘strong and radical personalities that packed a punch’. At a time when theatres are often no more than a final resting place for their director’s illusions, Frank Castorf continues to be an exception, utterly adored or determinedly snubbed.”

About The Festival

The Segal Center Film Festival on Theatre and Performance (FTP) is an annual event showcasing films drawn from the world of theatre and performance. The festival presents experimental, emerging, and established theatre artists and filmmakers from around the world to audiences and industry professionals. The 7th annual festival will focus on work for the screen created by theatre artists during the Time of Corona. The festival will be held digitally from March 1st – 15th 2022.

Watch Bajazet – considering The Theatre and the Plague from March 1st to March 15th 2022 on the Segal Center Film Festival on Theatre and Performance (FTP) website.

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