Production | 10 remarkable productions

Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut

By Maria Lazar
Stage version by Lucia Bihler and Alexander Kerlin

Burgtheater, Vienna

World premiere 20 January 2023

Four people in salmon pink costumes and with a mask over their heads stand in front of a huge statue of the Virgin Mary flanked by two angels.

Trailer © Burgtheater (Vienna)

Fear, superstition and defamation shape the incidents occurring in a village community. Lucia Bihler and her team have found an impressive language of imagery that already forebodes the horrors of an impending political transformation.

Watch the full-length performance online
in the 3sat-Mediathek and in the BerlinerFestspiele Media Library from Friday, 12 May to Thursday, 7 September

Audience discussion
Tuesday, 23 May after the performance and until 31 December 2023 as videoon demand in the media library
Moderation: Jutta Wangemann, attending jury member: Petra Paterno

An Austrian village in the 1930s: Unemployment, superstition and fear of social decline shape the lives of the villagers, who have been plagued by economic crisis and inflation. The local cannery has had to close its doors. A certain Mister Schellbach promises salvation: He wants to produce an ominous “space energy” and many rush to buy shares to support the enterprise. But Schellbach shoots himself and now the search is on for who is to blame for their predicament. A wave of gossip and violence ensues and soon claims its first casualties.
Maria Lazar’s long-forgotten novel “Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut” from the year 1937 is a lucid and bitingly humorous description of how National Socialism ripened in the Austrian provinces. From among countless short scenes and characters in the book, Lucia Bihler and Alexander Kerlin chose three families as quintessential examples for the polarisation that prevailed during this era. Bihler’s staging with its powerful imagery is based on a sophisticated sound and lighting concept. The Burgtheater-cast’s formalised, doll-like acting and rapid changes of characters create a convincing portrait of the personal dimension of political changes.

Statement of the Jury
Maria Lazar’s novel “Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut (The Natives of Maria Blut)”, written in her Danish exile in 1937, is a lucid exploration of how prone provincial Catholic communities were to succumb to emerging fascism: Poverty and the fear of social decline promote anti-Semitic tendencies and dreams of a redeemer. Dramaturg Alexander Kerlin and director Lucia Bihler have submitted a pointed version of this character-filled novel which seems tailor-made for Bihler’s stylised imagery.
The two-hour-long show fans out into miniature dramas, separated by angular blackouts. Supported by sound-designer Jacob Suske, the cast perfectly keeps up the suspense: at no point do we feel comfortable. A challenging show unfolds; its strong staging deliberately subverts any stringent narration. Its choric passages and acting with or without masks baulk at any sleek interpretation. Instead, the production throws glaring lights on the ominous amalgamation of piety and village life. “Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut” thus approaches radical literature in a radical way.

Tojuror Petra Paterno’s video statement in the Berliner Festspiele Media Library (in German)

Artistic Team

Lucia BihlerDirector
Jessica RockstrohStage Design
Victoria BehrCostume Design
Jacob SuskeMusic and Sound Design
Mats SüthoffChoreography and Mask Performance
Peter Spörl, Helmut LacknerMask Construction
Norbert PillerLighting
Alexander KerlinDramaturgy


Stefanie DvorakNarrator’s Voice / Toni, Adalbert’s housekeeper / Anselm, Meyer-Löw’s grandson / Miss Reindl
Philipp HaussDr Lohmann
Jonas HackmannAdalbert, Dr Lohmann’s son / Vinzenz, Mr Heberger’s son
Robert ReinaglFather Lambert / Herr Heberger, innkeeper
Dorothee HartingerMeyer-Löw, lawyer
Lili WinderlichMarischka, Meyer-Löw’s housekeeper / Notburga, Mr Heberger’s daughter / Alice, Lohmann’s friend in Vienna
EnsembleThe native people of Maria Blut