Duration: 145 minutes with one interval
Fiercely critical of post-war Austrian policy-makers, who in his opinion had never truly cut ties with their Nazi past, Thomas Bernhard wrote Heldenplatz in 1998, a sort of theatrical and political testament that at the time was associated with the personal will of the writer (who died on 12 February 1989), bearing instructions banning the publication and the staging of his works in his country of birth.
On its debut at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 4 November of the same year, the play stirred up one of the greatest theatrical scandals in post-war Austrian history, above all for its explicit references to time and location (unusual in Bernhard’s works). The date was March 1988 in Vienna, and the title, Heldenplatz - the square in which, in 1938, Hitler announced the Anschluss, i.e., the annexing of Austria to Nazi Germany, to the crowds.
More than 30 years on from this debut, the director Roberto Andò feels it is necessary and urgent to return this work, which has never been performed in Italy, to the stage, as “despite the precise realism of Bernhard, indications of time and place are no longer required in order to understand the meaning of this visionary and catastrophic text. Spectators immediately understand that the action is taking place in a typical rally square in a typical European city. Berhard’s Austria is everywhere”.
The play focuses on professor Schuster, an eminent Jewish intellectual, who killed himself in protest against the spreading anti-semitic horrors. His home looked out over the central Heldenplatz: “The square and the cheering voices that disturb the troubled mind of the professor’s widow - continues Andò - are the squares and the voices that are invoking strength throughout a misguided Europe, “a register that plunges them definitively into the abyss”, in the words of Uncle Robert, the brother of the dead man, paraphrasing Bernard himself”.
Piazza degli Eroi
by Thomas Bernhard
translation Roberto Menin
directed by Roberto Andò
sets and lighting Gianni Carluccio
costumes Daniela Cernigliaro
sound Hubert Westkemper
with Renato Carpentieri, Imma Villa, Betti Pedrazzi,
Silvia Ajelli, Paolo Cresta, Francesca Cutolo, Stefano Jotti, Valeria Luchetti, Vincenzo Pasquariello, Enzo Salomone
a Teatro di Napoli – Teatro Nazionale, Teatro Stabile del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Fondazione Teatro della Toscana – Teatro Nazionale production