directed by Oliver Reese
stage design Daniel Wollenzin
costume design Laura Krack
music Jörg Gollasch
light design Steffen Heinke
dramaturgy Sibylle Baschung
Berlin premiere 30 September 2017
Oskar Matzerath Nico Holonics
Oskar Matzerath decides to stop growing for good on his third birthday. And even when the world around him darkens under the swastika flag, Oskar keeps on playing his toy drum and views the historical events from a frog’s perspective…
It has been exactly 60 years from the moment that Günter Grass’s novel The Tin Drum catapulted him amongst the most important German authors of the twentieth century. This cult magic realism work by the Nobel Prize for Literature laureate earned the film adaptation of the same name an Oscar in 1979 (directed by: Volker Schlöndorf). The reception of the book underwent a huge turn after Grass confessed to having been a Waffen-SS member. The author’s settlement with the question of “personal responsibility” has been apparent since then.
The director Oliver Reese innovatively reduced the novel to a brilliant monodrama about a manipulative cynic in a captivating performance by Nico Holonics, via whose voice, he manages to indirectly comment on the state of current world politics.
The Tin Drum is and always will be a book that one can never be done with. Not even when the story gets repeated over and over. No solution, no simple message, no clear-cut literary and historical categorization. It is a theme that one cannot simply leave behind: the German heritage of the Third Reich, a past that you cannot escape.
SIBYLLE BASCHUNG, dramaturge
"Mr. Holonics brings Grass’s epic to life on a scale that seems at once vast and intimate. Alone onstage battering his totemic drum, and looking the part of an oversize toddler in his waist-high shorts, suspenders and high socks, Mr. Holonics gives a seething, deeply unsettling performance as the stubborn, manipulative and wickedly funny protagonist. (…)
Mr. Holonics is invested in the production both physically and emotionally. Conjuring up the novel’s large cast of characters and its carnivalesque succession of hellish scenes, he quivers, shouts and fiercely drums. It is a headlong plunge into a dark psyche and an even darker world. For the duration of the intermissionless performance, it is bloodcurdlingly persuasive."
A. J. GOLDMANN, NEW YORK TIMES, 22 February 2019
“As soon as Oskar Matzerath enters the stage, he pushes aside the novel protagonist as well as the film child and becomes an original theatre character. This magic realism novel by Günter Grass, taking place across the twentieth century, turns thanks to Nico Holonics into a spontaneous one-man show.”
SHIRIN SOJITRAWALLA, NACHTKRITIK.DE, 11 January 2015
Oliver Reese was born in 1964 in Padeborn, in the Schloss Neuhaus quarter. Already during his schooldays he was into theatre and before graduating he did his internship with the Italian director Giorgio Strehler. After completing his studies (German literature, theatre studies and comparative literature) he worked as an assistant director at Münchner Kammerspiele, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and Residenztheater, where he held the position of dramaturge in 1989. He was appointed head dramaturge at Theater Ulm in 1991. From 1994 to 2001, Oliver Reese was head dramaturge at Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. He consequently worked at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, which was awarded the Theatre of the Year. Oliver Reese was artistic director of Schauspiel Frankfurt from 2009 to 2017, where he skilfully staged productions from ancient to contemporary drama according to his dramaturgical plan. He then returned to Berlin after fifteen years and took up the position of artistic director of Berliner Ensemble.
A number of his productions are adaptations of celebrated novels such as Nabokov’s Lolita
(2003), Grass’s The Tin Drum
, 2015), or Bergman’s Private Confessions
1999) and Faithless
, 2006). Reese’s adaptation of Private Confessions
, was actually the very first theatre production of this text. (The audience of this year’s Flora will have the opportunity to see this intimate drama
adapted by the Divadelní spolek Jedl theatre ensemble.)
Reese also dramatized productions of biographical texts such as Bartsch, Kindermörder (Bartsch, Child Murderer, 1992), Emmy Göring an der Seite ihres Mannes (Emmy Goring at Her Husband's Side, 1994), Goebbels (2005) and Ich bin Nijinsky. Ich bin der Tod (2013). An interest in human beings, mainly with respect to his or her childhood and the desire to make different and new texts, led to the creation of an original production based on five autobiographical novels by Thomas Bernhard named Wille zur Wahrheit – Bestandsaufnahme von mir (2012–2013).
Berliner Ensemble ranks among the most renowned German theatres. It is named after the world-famous Brecht company and has made theatre history. The theatre has – in name of the tradition of its directors Bertold Brecht and Heiner Müller – as well as under the current artistic direction of Oliver Reese – focused on current social question and burning themes. The emphasis on contemporary international drama can be seen mainly in the authorial program which aims to obtain new authors and dramatists for the theatre and also stage important literary pieces, for example, from England, USA, Norway, Finland, etc. The core of the theatre is its ensemble. Berliner Ensemble has 28 permanent actors and actresses at present, among them Constanze Becker, Andreas Döhler, Bettina Hoppe, Ingo Hülsmann, Corina Kirchhoff, Tilo Nest or Stefanie Reinsperger, the face of the 2016 Flora Theatre Festival where she performed in three productions Proklik na web archiv?. This charismatic actress returned to Flora and made another remarkable performance in the Philoktet production last year. Proklik na web archiv? The theatre also emphasizes the ongoing work of innovative directors who give direction to the contemporary drama, such as Frank Castorf, Mateja Koležnik, Antú Romero Nunes, as well as the in-house director Michael Thalheimer.
“When the applause ceases, the microphone turns off and the endorphins wash away, with a certain emptiness appearing; the arms and legs become heavy. You realize you have exhausted all your corporal as well as spiritual powers which cannot be drawn back again immediately, regardless of the intensity of the applause. That for me is a rather sad moment.”
Nico Holonics (1983) studied at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin and then was part of the Staatsschauspiel Dresden, Volkstheater Munich and later Münchner Kammerspiele. He was awarded the Bayerisches Schauspiel scholarship. He was nominated for the Theater Heute award as the Talent of the Year when he was 25 and in 2015 for Actor of Year. He was part of the ensemble Schauspiel Frankfurt from 2012, where he received several major acting opportunities. In the 2017/18 season, Nico left together with the artistic director Oliver Reese and joined his newly-formed “all-star” ensemble of the Berliner Ensemble theatre. He also came back to the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts where he currently teaches. Lotte, his loyal dog of 10 years, has followed him in all the theatres where he performs.
photo: Birgit Hupfeld