The 10 Selected Productions

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (Man in the Holocene)

A visual poem by Alexander Giesche
after the novella by Max Frisch

Schauspielhaus Zürich

Premiere 23 January 2020

Alexander Giesches stages Max Frisch’s novella about mankind’s Sisyphus-struggle against their own doom as a highly poetic trial of patience on thewings of imagination.

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän

Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän. Karin Pfammatter, Maximilian Reichert

© Zoé Aubry

  • 1 h 50 min, without interval, plus film afterwards

A hillside starts to slide and Herr Geiser loses his memory. Alexander Giesche and his team have captured the disappearance of a person and the drifting away of nature, the subject of Max Frisch’s novella, in a visual poem of enchanting beauty and coherence. This poetical stage scenery here leaves room for digital and analogue elements; lighting, music and rain form a unified composition and a masterful duo of actors leads us tenderly through an eerily abstracted, sustained catastrophe.

Statement of the Jury

Herr Geiser is going under: in a rainy and overcast Tessin and in his own increasing forgetfulness, in a cut-off mountain village opposite sliding slopes. In this work based on Max Frisch’s novella, Alexander Giesche is less concerned with the story of losing track of the world and of one’s own self than with exploring it as a text that ponders on the relationship between mankind and nature, on acquiring knowledge as a way to reassure oneself of one’s existence. Tessin’s incessant rain pelts down on the curtain and the stage floor in all imaginable pitches and colourings. Knowledge material from a cement mixer to a holographic projector accumulates and sinks without a trace; children bridge an abyss in solidarity. Even a dinosaur, which Max Frisch was reminded of by a salamander in his living-room, makes an appearance. “Only mankind know disasters”, he writes, “provided they survive them. Nature does not know disasters.”


Director Alexander Giesche
Stage Design Nadia Fistarol
Costume Design Felix Lübkemann
Composition Ludwig Abraham
Video Luis August Krawen
Lighting Design Frank Bittermann
Dramaturgy Joshua Wicke

Karin Pfammatter, Maximilian Reichert

Supernumeraries Benjamin Bubica, Rosa Curi, Alexia Finocchiaro-Piu, Julia Kalberer, Matti Kramer, Cara Stäger
Child’s Voice Shelley Fistarol

Supported by Ars Rhenia