The 10 Selected Productions

John Gabriel Borkman

By Henrik Ibsen
German translation by Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel
Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg

Premiere 21 September 2014
John Gabriel Borkman

John Gabriel Borkman. Julia Wieninger, Lina Beckmann; below: Jan-Peter Kampwirth

© Klaus Lefebvre

  • Duration1h 45, no interval
  • With English surtitles

Past Dates

Public discussion on 2 May, following the last performance
Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Bar

In the interpretation of Karin Henkel and designer Katrin Nottrodt, the realms of upstairs and downstairs, described by Ibsen as strictly separated living conditions at the Borkmans’, melt into a single dismal, oppressive non-location made of concrete, where people meet as if as a punishment and are obliged to perch on top of each other. There are no more escape routes of lies and dissimulation out of this bunker, this prison of souls, where the battles for power and people are fought to the point of total exhaustion. Henkel shows the grotesque decline of former public morals: Ghostlike conjurers of their pent-up malignancies, tortured and humiliated, who can only operate by torture and humiliation, the masked undead who cannot find peace and therefore leave no one else in peace either. The hostile sisters wrench their victims’ emotions and believe that this is love. But once old Borkman is dead, once the great child finally has to be given up for lost, their battle is revealed to be an evil, outrageous, eerily funny spectacle of two maternal monsters who, like two immature brats, will even fight for the applause they get for their celebrated degradations.

Directed by Karin Henkel
Stage design Katrin Nottrodt
Costume design Nina von Mechow
Music Arvild J. Baud
Lighting design Annette ter Meulen
Dramaturgy Sybille Meier

John Gabriel Borkman Josef Ostendorf
Gunhild Borkman Julia Wieninger
Erhart Borkman Jan-Peter Kampwirth
Ella Rentheim Lina Beckmann
Fanny Wilton Kate Strong
Vilhelm Foldal Matthias Bundschuh
Frida Foldal Gala Winter