premiere 21 Jan 2017
Emilia Galotti is a class struggle avant la lettre.
In the 18th century, the monarch reigned supreme, an absolute ruler. But it is also the age of the emerging bourgeoisie. Two ideologies that diametrically oppose each other. During this time of great tension and unrest, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing writes a new kind of drama, in which not only the fate of kings is the material for tragedies, but bourgeois life is also brought to the stage.
Emilia Galotti is a young bourgeois woman. She is in love with Count Appiani and wants to marry him. A marriage of love. But when Prince Gonzaga sees a painting of her, he is infatuated. From his higher position in society, the prince claims to have a right to Emilia. Violence is not shunned. On the way to her wedding, Emilia is overtaken and Appiani is killed. Emilia is brought to the prince’s summer palace – for her own safety, or so she is told. There she is caught between the prince and her father. The former tries to win her and the latter is supposed to help her, but to no avail.
Emilia Galotti is a political commentary in which Lessing cunningly denounces the tyranny of the ruling classes and the citizens’ lack of rights. But it is also the tragedy of freedom. Emilia is helplessly subjected to what others do to her. She is unable to defend herself against the prince, who claims her. But she also can’t withstand her father, who is has to uphold the honour of his family at any expense. There is only one way out for Emilia: death.
Two years ago, Maren E. Bjørseth created A bride in the morning, her first project for TA-2, the platform for the development of directorial talent, in collaboration with Frascati Producties. The performance was selected for the Nederlands Theater Festival. Emilia Galotti is produced in collaboration with Toneelschuur Producties.
Maren E. Bjørseth about Emilia Galotti
‘Emilia Galotti is set in a world driven by violence and corruption, reigned by self-interest. The prince is a lecher who admires and craves. He takes whatever he wants and now he wants Emilia Galotti, the most beautiful woman of the realm, a masterpiece of nature. But who is this Emilia? A woman of incomparable beauty? Or is she still a girl? I am very fascinated by the woman as a symbol, as a person of power and a powerless object. Strong women keep recurring in my performances, Emilia Galotti is a new step in this quest. In a colourful, slightly absurd, but harsh world, we search for the woman behind the pretty face. For the power and the stubbornness, the sexuality and the immense despair of a young woman who is put in an impossible situation. As the centre of a whirlwind of battles over power, control and pride. ‘A rose broken in the bud, before the storm scattered its petals.’ (Emilia about herself). The many sides of Emilia make her just as recognizable and complex today as she was back then. At the prince’s summer palace, Emilia is forced to make extreme decisions. In the end, the play can be reduced to the basic fight between two powers: lust and love.’