With the novella Hartlaub hat den Katalog (Hartlaub has the Catalogue) and the collection of poems Von der Gewissensnot der Insekten (On the Moral Dilemma of Insects) he received public recognition for the first time, now the literary world is waiting – and especially his Zurich-based publisher Bramm – for the first novel by the forty-year old, somewhat overweight bachelor Traugott Neimann. Neimann bases his career as a poet on the consequential consumption of certain stimulating substances and as he falls out of a window during a party, singing; it’s all thanks to the exceptional quality of his high, that he survives the fall unharmed. However the consequences are dramatic: he is never allowed to consume drugs again. In his desperation Neimann checks himself into rehab of the many-faced Thalia Fresluder and with that straight into a trans-dimensional adventure with Mona Zwanzig, the ex-child-star, Vesica Güterbock, the fired agent of the Ministry for Internal Affairs, Pabst Probstenloch, the inventor of Prelate Gum, alongwith the disturbed ‘Ganghofer-creature’ and dubious doppelgänger dolls. “In his travels through space and time Neimann puts his increasingly questionable existence seriously on the line and at the end even risks the feared ‘universe-stulp’”, according to the lector Heiko Arntz.
With this racy plot the Wuppertal-based author and illustrator Eugen Egner captured readers with his novel “Der Universums-Stulp” (“The Universe-Stulp”) back in 1993. Together with the Berlin composer Stephan Winkler they adapted the novel to a ‘musical story of pictures in three books’ as a commission of the Wuppertaler Bühnen. With an innovative integration of comic, cartoon, theatre and song, Egner and Winkler herald in the era of the graphic novel on the theatrical stage. The interlacing of various kinds of media and image planes is also present in Winkler’s music in which singers and the soloists of Ensemble Musikfabrik appear in dialogue with live and pre-recorded material. “The blurring of the borders between the natural and the synthetic and the perceptual confusion that comes out of that” lead straight to the inconclusive theme of identity, “of the self and of the opposition and the difficulties in communication of the self (‘I’) with the outside world, that confronts one in the most bizarre and unexpected forms”, according to Stephan Winkler. In place of the broadening and psychological illumination of a more or less tragic constellation of figures, the audience will be pulled into a wild strudel of premature events”, promise the authors, “a constantly more adventurous and nightmarish series of surprising twists that cave in on the audience in Kafkaesque style, and even on the protagonist Traugott Neimann.” We are all Neimann.
Patrick Hahn (Translation: Richard Haynes)
Friday, 7 February 2014 | 19.30 h | world premiere
Sunday, 9 February 2014 | 16 h
Thursday, 13 February 2014 | 19.30 h
Saturday, 15 February 2014 | 19.30 h
Friday, 7 March 2014 | 19.30 h
Sunday, 30 March 2014 | 18 h
Wuppertal | Opernhaus
Supported by Kunststiftung NRW.
Stephan Winkler's "Der Universums-Stulp (2012)" after a novel by Eugen Egner was premiered at the Wuppertaler Bühnen in 2014.
Photos by Agathe Poupeny.