Libretto #2 (2022)

Backstage with …Johannes Schütz

Johannes Schütz covers the stage in clay for FIDELIO. The stage set is a reflection on the systemic nature of the prison environment

For me, the central question is: What elements make up the essential core of a prison camp? I ask this because, as I see it, the state penitentiary of 18th-century Spain prefigures the concentration camps, the gulags, the death camps of the 20th and 21st centuries. Beethoven was a visionary in the distinction he made between common criminals and political prisoners. We knew from the outset that we wouldn’t be building a mock-up prison from papier maché; that would be naïve and would play down the concept of the camp as a polis of collapsing societies. I’m trying to find a physical form in which to express on stage the system of repression. Our stage consists largely of clay, which, over the course of the play, rubs off on the bodies and clothes of the inmates. No one who enters the prison camp will escape its inexorable logic – suppression always leaves traces.


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