de / en
Women in Trouble
by Susanne Kennedy

2h 30min
English with german Surtitles

The stage turns. Angelina Dreem One is wearing a latex mask complete with long black hair. She sits on a sofa, characterised by high-gloss reality TV aesthetics, and reclines in a pose. The stage continues to turn. A second set contains fitness equipment and a spa area; Angelina Dreem Two moves through a tomographic scanner.
Angelina Dreem’s life is a soap opera. But her life is also real. Angelina Dreem is sick. She has cancer. Throughout the play, new Doppelgängers of her continually appear, falling from one rabbit-hole reality into the next. Growing older; being a woman; remaining oneself; exorcising oneself again. Women in Trouble explores if there is anything left to learn. Could the next life be a better one?

“I am not the least bit interested in irony.” Susanne Kennedy, born in 1977, does not really trust theatre. Or, rather, she wants to return to its roots. So, she masks her actors and plays recorded texts as voice-overs, combatting the presence that makes the stage so weighty and, at the right moment, demonstrating that the ritual of theatre can still tell us everything after 2500 years. Kennedy is hot on the heels of death. Her opera production Orfeo (2015) had the subtitle “An Exercise in Dying” and her current production The Virgin Suicides (2017), based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name, looks back on life from the perspective of death.

Why must Medea kill her children every time, and why must Hamlet always die? “We have the need to gather in a common place to witness how people love, suffer, kill and die. Actors are like stalkers: they take us along into a ‘space of desires’. They are familiar with places where we feel alien,” maintains Kennedy. With her productions of Marieluise Fleißer’s Purgatory in Ingolstadt (2013) and Fassbinder’s Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?(2014) at the Munich Kammerspiele, she became one of the most popular theatre makers in Germany. In Women in Trouble, the Doppelgängers circle about on germ-free stage sets: is it a hyper-realistic Scientology centre, virtual cancer clinic – or already the afterlife?

The idea of the Anthropocene era has preoccupied us for more than 15 years. It proposes that humankind has become a geological factor. We are not only scratching the surface of nature, but changing it profoundly. Nature and culture, creatures and technical objects constitute a novel mixture. Kennedy believes the time has come to let go: “The subject is no longer a topic! The things we have invented to represent people on the stage no longer work. To find oneself is to lose oneself.”

In her first production for Volksbühne the director has developed duplicating cabinets, in which fragmented human beings become visible in their unadorned humanity. The matrix changes with each rotation.

Coproduction: Theater Rotterdam

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, transl. by Robert Hurley. New York, 1977 / Anti-Ödipus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie, transl. by Bernd Schwibs. Frankfurt am Main, 1974. Les Éditions de Minuit and Suhrkamp Verlag

John Cassavetes, Opening Night, Drehbuch, USA, 1977 / Opening Night, transl. by Brigitte Landes, S. Fischer Verlag Theater & Medien

Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double, transl. by Mary Caroline Richards. New York, 1958. / Das Theater und sein Double, transl. by Gerd Henniger. Matthes & Seitz. Berlin, 2012

Performance rights courtesy of the additions.
Thanks to Angelina Dreem, Margaret V Haines und Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Women in Trouble is a co-production with Theater Rotterdam's Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot. The latter two joined the Dutch company as key artistic associates in 2016. The relationship between Susanne Kennedy, Suzan Boogaerdt en Bianca van der Schoot dates back to 2013, when they created Hideous (wo)men together, and later, in 2015, ORFEO.

Kennedy's and Boogaerdt and Van der Schoot’s works are similar in theme and inspiration. They are fascinated by (female) physicality and a technical approach to the body as an object. The artists often use masks and disguises to try and depersonalise the body.

Premiere: 30.11.2017


With: Suzan Boogaerdt, Marie Groothof, Niels Kuiters, Julie Solberg, Anna Maria Sturm, Bianca van der Schoot, Thomas Wodianka

Director, Script: Susanne Kennedy
Stage: Lena Newton
Costumes: Lotte Goos
Lighting: Rainer Casper
Video: Rodrik Biersteker
Sound Design: Richard Janssen

press voices

„Susanne Kennedy gelingt mit „Women in Trouble“ ein bildgewaltiges Requiem auf die Menschheit“. Süddeutsche Zeitung

Mounia Meiborg, 02.12.17

„Die Volksbühne will eine Vordenkerin für ein neues Theater sein. Mit Susanne Kennedy und ihrem optimistischen Abend «Women in Trouble» löst der schwierig gestartete Intendant Chris Dercon dieses Versprechen ein.“ Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Daniele Muscionico, 01.12.17

„An diesem Abend in der Volksbühne durften die Zuschauer die Eleganz, die Komik und die Intelligenz einer nahezu perfekt ausgeklügelten Bühnenschöpfung bewundern, die eine Gegenwelt herbeihalluziniert, in der Krankheit und Tod und Gott ihre Schrecken verloren haben. Ein spektakulärer Knüller im Haus des neuen Theaterchefs Chris Dercon." Spiegel Online

Wolfgang Höbel, 01.12.17

Diese extreme Reduktion der theatralischen Mittel macht es dem Zuschauer sicherlich nicht einfach. Sie macht Women in Trouble aber auch auf eine quälend interessante Weise subtil.“ Zeit Online

Tobias Haberkorn, 01.12.17


> Play II Pause
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Photo: Julian Röder

Foto: Julian Röder

Foto: Julian Röder

Foto: Julian Röder

Foto: Julian Röder

Foto: Julian Röder

> Play II Pause
sound on sound off
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