, Bruch‘-

Brechtfestival Augsburg,
5 March 20215 March 2021

TANIKŌ (cold love)


With Isabell Höckel, Jorid Lukaczik, Lennart Boyd Schürmann, Anna K. Seidel and Juno Meinecke. Contributions by Achinoam Alon, Stanislav Iordanov, Marleen Johow, Leo van Kann.


A travel group sets out on a journey in search of a new beginning, among them Marieluise Fleißer, Alexandra Kollontai, Bertolt Brecht and Ovid. Soon, their euphoric and bookish enactments of past utopias are challenged by the group dynamics that unfold along the stations of their revolutionary trajectory to the promised lands of pleasure. When one comrade’s heart falls ill – is it because of homesickness or due to unanswered romantic feelings towards the leader of the group? – the once clear directionality of their voyage threatens to dissolve. At the summit of collective despair, an ominous mountain demon appears and reveals an unforeseen path, less virtuous but therefore lucrative. 

Tanikō or The Valley-Hurling is a Japanese nō-play written by Pseudo-Zenchiku around the fifteenth century and set in the ascetic mountain world of the Yamabushi that was adapted by Bertolt Brecht as Der Jasager and Der Neinsager. He became acquainted with the material in the late 1920s in a version heavily edited by the English Orientalist Arthur Waley and translated into German by Elisabeth Hauptmann. Developed as a school opera together with Kurt Weill, it is one of his first didactic pieces in which the political consciousness of the audience as well as of the performative participants was to be trained for the communist project.

tanikō (cold love) proposes a version of the play that takes its point of departure from a collaboration and love affair between two writers with radically different poetics: Marieluise Fleißer and Bertolt Brecht. Their personal and aesthetic incompatibilities are investigated as symptoms of the potential violence that accompanies the project of modern emancipatory strategies and utopian projects. Fleißer’s auto-fictional text Avantgarde, a document of antimodern resentments provoked by the traumatic experience of Brecht’s paternalistic management of her debut as a published and played author in the 1920s, is projected onto the dramatic constellation of an impossible amorous relationship between teacher and pupil within the psychic topography of a journey to the mountains.

Inverting the historical distribution of roles (there: Brecht editing Fleißer; here: Fleißer editing Brecht), the piece borrows the perspective of Fleißer’s poetics in order to offer phantasmic accounts of the irresolved problems and libidinal economies that informed their encounter: What would a Lehrstück (didactic play) look like that takes into account the vulnerabilities and sensibilities of its agents and yet allows for the imagination of emancipatory modes of interpersonal relations (Beziehungsweisen)?


Commissioned by Brechtfestival Augsburg and co-produced by Otto-Falckenberg-Schule/Münchner Kammerspiele.