Der (kommende) Aufstand nach Friedrich Schiller

12, 13, 15, 16/05 – 20:00
DE / NL > NL / FR
±1h 30min

Friedrich von Schiller wrote his History of the Revolt of the Netherlands a year before the French Revolution. According to him, the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) against Spanish occupation marks the start of an era of free citizens, free markets and free states. Four centuries on, the capitalism the Dutch offer to Europe has itself become a tyranny. A new insurrection is happening. But where does it come from? And where might it lead? The German collective andcompany&Co. uses the stage like a machine to go back in time and create the future. Erudite and subversive, its multimedia shows are like collages, combining literary, visual and musical references from various sources and forming original combinations and extraordinary models. Created with a group of German and Dutch artists, the collective’s latest work returns to the foundations of the Old Continent in the hope of building a new utopia, with the Netherlands serving as a case study…

“Vrijheid van denken, was de kunst daarvoor niet bij uitstek de arena? Der (kommende) Aufstand laat een glimp zien van wat dat werkelijk betekent. En daarmee is het voor Nederland een van de belangrijkste voorstellingen van het seizoen.”
Simon van den Berg,

“andcompany&Co.” markiert einmal mehr einen Spiel-Stil, der quer und widerständig zu konventionellen Theaterformen steht. Und in den besseren Momenten entsteht sogar ein Theater aus und mit eigener, stilbildender Energie.
Michael Laages, Deutschlandradio Kultur


Alexander Karschnia, Nicola Nord, Sascha Sulimma (andcompany&Co.) 
with Joachim Robbrecht

Executive director
Nicola Nord&Co.

Set design

Jan Brokof&Co.

Lisa Maline Busse&Co.

Gregor Knüppel&Co.

Alexander Karschnia, Joachim Robbrecht, Jörg Vorhaben

Sascha Sulimma with Simon Lenski, Reinier van Houdt&Co.

Production manager
Aurel Thurn

Technical director

Martin Kaffarnik

Direction assistant
Thomas Renner

Set assistant
Julia Harttung

Performed by

Rüdiger Hauffe, Reinier van Houdt, Alexander Karschnia, Simon Lenski, Joachim Robbrecht, Hartmut Schories, Sascha Sulimma, Vincent van der Valk, Ward Weemhoff


Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Théâtre Marni

andcompany&Co., Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Frascati (Amsterdam)

Forum Freies Theater (Düsseldorf), Theater im Pumpenhaus (Münster)

Supported by
Goethe-Institut Amsterdam, Goethe-Institut Brüssel, Fonds Podiumkunsten, NRW KULTURsekretariat, Kunststiftung NRW

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Occupy history!

“How do you squat an imaginary space within an imaginary context?” andcompany&Co. have occupied the stage. Together with Flemish theatre-maker Joachim Robbrecht, they are rehearsing the opstand, the “secession of the Netherlands from the Spanish government” (Friedrich Schiller). It began here in Brussels 444 years ago when a delegation of Dutch and Flemish noblemen approached the Spanish governor Margaret of Parma to ease the Spanish laws, especially the activities of the Inquisition, and restore their rights and privileges. Margaret was initially scared, but a courtier whispered in her ear: “N’ayez pas peur, Madame, ce ne sont que des gueux” [Fear not, madam, they are just beggars]. This labelling was picked up by the noblemen and common people who called themselves “Geuzen” in response and started to dress up as beggars to express their protest. But the ‘opstand’ is not just a forgotten history, but also a forgotten future according to the anonymous authors of the pamphlet The Coming Insurrection,which was published in France recently and much discussed in this country too, after a massive police force arrested 9 young people in the village of Tarnac on the charges of ‘terrorism’. Inspired by these texts and the worldwide Occupy movement, andcompany&Co. has developed a new performance with a Dutch-Flemish-German cast of imaginary squatters in the historical costume of a past revolution: the Geuzen (beggars) are back! But today all European governments have to be scared if they keep treating citizens as beggars. In the Netherlands this is especially true for the treatment of artists. From next year, 40 percent of the Netherlands’ cultural budget will be cut. Cultural workers from the free theatre scene are facing massive attacks on their means of production and denounced as “standing with their backs to the audience and with an open hand to the state.” The performance of Der (kommende) Aufstand nach Friedrich Schiller breathes the spirit of the Dutch revolt which turned the “geuzennaam” into personal pride and is responding to a situation that is turning the word “artist” into a ”geuzennaam”. What began as farce could easily end in tragedy. But it could also be a new beginning...

Introduction to civil war

While Margaret of Parma tried to appease the citizens with diplomacy, the Spanish sovereign King Philip II was unwilling to give in and decided to send Duke Alba with a mighty army to impose a bloody trial upon the people. While even the Pope warned him not to be too hard on this rich province which was the crucible for the wealth of the whole empire, Philip decided to be more popish than the Pope and not tolerate any acts of heresy. After the iconoclasm of 1566, a decision was made to crush the rebellion of the united provinces with brute force and malignant fraud. Thus the heads of the aristocracy – Egmont, Hoorn and van Oranje – were invited by Alba. Egmont and Hoorn accepted the invitation, were captured and quickly executed, their heads stuck onto long pikes and exhibited in the Grand Place in Brussels on 5 June 1568. Today they still stand in Brussels, no longer incarnated and drenched in blood on the Grand Place, but cast in bronze on the Petit Sablon. The third, called “William the Silent” disappeared and returned with an army: the Eighty Years’ War had begun. It was not only a time of fighting - there were peaceful intervals (1609-1621). It ended with the Peace of Münster in 1648 which also ended the ‘war of religion’ that broke out in 1618 between the Protestant and the Catholic countries in the rest of Europe. While Germany lay devastated at the end of this war, the Netherlands had become the first modern republic and enjoyed its ‘golden age’, a time characterised by its independence and its rise to become the most powerful trading nation on the continent. While England took over this position after a series of maritime and trading wars, the Dutch Republic was ended by the invasion of revolutionary French troops. Thus when Schiller wrote the historical study “The secession of the Netherlands form the Spanish government” in 1788 to praise the Dutch opstand as a true revolution, in reality he was writing a homage to a state just before the fall. And the revolution he praised was just about to happen.

Revolt? Revolution? Republic!

But was the Eighty Years’ War really a revolution as Schiller thought? Historians today mostly speak of the ‘Dutch revolt’. The outcome was certainly truly revolutionary: a republic governing itself. For Schiller and many of his contemporaries, this was the best example he had of his republican ideal, especially in Germany which never had a successful revolution. Until the late 19th century it remained divided in hundreds of small and smallest absolutist dukedoms. Instead of a unified nation-state with a powerful parliament, creative energies went into the establishment of a ‘national theatre’ and a classical culture with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller at the core of the canon. It is no coincidence that both wrote plays about the history of their small revolutionary neighbour: Goethe’s Egmont about the tragic fate of Duke Egmont and Schiller’s Don Carlos, Infante of Spain about the Spanish prince who was the hope of the Dutch people but died in obscure circumstances in 1568. Until 220 years later when Schiller worked with this material, rumours haven't stopped that he was murdered by his father Philipp because of an incestuous relationship with his stepmother (who died in the same year) or because of his contacts to and political sympathies for the Dutch freedom movement. In Schiller’s version Roderick, Marquis of Posa, comes to the Spanish court to win his childhood friend for their course. The play is famous for Posa’s pathetic freedom speeches, especially his courageous monologue directed towards the King: “Grant freedom of thought, sire!” When the audience gave this sentence standing ovations in Austria in 1848, the reactionary minister von Metternich escaped to London, realising that the democratic revolution had won. And even today this play is performed every time freedom is in danger, as in Hungary where the freedom of press is being severely restricted by the government. In Budapest the right-wing mayor has fired the artistic director of the “new theatre” to hand it over to an open chauvinist and declared anti-Semite who wants to rename it “homefront theatre”. The last play being staged by the old team at the “new theatre” is Schiller’s Don Carlos.

World empire, world market, world revolution

The Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) marked the beginning of an epoch which might be ending today: the era of free citizens, free markets and free states. Schiller wrote about the newly born Dutch Republic: “The Dutch protect themselves with dams against the ocean and against their princes with constitutions.” The princes are gone, but now the ocean is bursting its banks: global capitalism, brought about by Dutch merchants in that time, is suffering shipwrecks in thunderstorms it has unleashed itself. Financial crises and national bankruptcies are the beginning and end of this story. Between 1550 and 1650 the Spanish state saw six bankruptcies – although they extracted tons of gold and silver from the New World (from the mountain at Potosí). Even more paradoxically, the war Spain led against the Flemish provinces only made her enemies richer! The means used to crush their resistance helped to finance their self-defence. While Philip II dreamt of a universal monarchy, a world empire, he was ruined by the forces of the emerging world market. The time of the great empires was over. His arch enemy, the Ottoman Empire, was being challenged by a series of uprisings on the North African coast, an Arab Spring avant la lettre. The era of the Mediterranean Sea as the centre of the world was coming to an end, the centre shifting from south to north: first Antwerp became the most important port and trading post, then during the Eighty Years’ War it shifted to Amsterdam. This is where the Wisselbank opened to stabilise the new dynamics of commerce that came into existence with the Atlantic trade. It is safe to say that this was not only the beginning of modern capitalism, but also of globalisation which is not a late stage of the former, but its precondition! It is this “modern world-system” (Immanuel Wallerstein) that is in crisis today. Contrary to what Schiller thought, the existence of free markets, free states and free citizens no longer coincide, but rather contradict one other. If there is a reason why and a purpose in studying ‘universal history’, then it is the one given by anthropologist David Graeber in his book Debt. The first 5000 years: when the outstanding debts of states and citizens are so high that they undermine the foundations of society, radical changes are about to happen. Because freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose, but first and foremost means being free from debt and slavery. With the Marquis de Posa the citizens might soon be approaching their sovereigns to demand: “Give back what you have taken from us!”

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The international performance collective andcompany&Co. was founded in Frankfurt am Main in 2003 by theatre expert, author and performer Alexander Karschnia, theatre-maker and singer Nicola Nord, and musician and performer Sascha Sulimma. andcompany&Co. is designed to be an open network and is continually being joined by new artists from various disciplines. They include the author and theatre director Joachim Robbrecht, visual artists Jan Brokof, Noah Fischer and Hila Peled, and musicians Reinier van Houdt and Simon Lenski. andcompany&Co. have been artists-in-residence at HAU in Berlin since 2007. Their plays are performed around the world, including at Brussels’ Kunstenfestivaldesarts (2007), Wiener Festwochen (2008), Festival Impulse (2009) and Dortmund’s Festival favoriten 08 – Theaterzwang (2008/ 2010), where little red (play) was awarded a prize by North-Rhine Westphalia’s Ministry of Culture. In their latest work, the German-Flemish-Dutch co-production Der (kommende) Aufstand nach Friedrich Schiller, mutiny is tested on stage within the context of devastating cuts in the Netherlands’ cultural-political sphere and the general sense of crisis throughout the world. With reference to Schiller’s study The Revolt of the Netherlands and the pamphlet The Coming Insurrection published in France in 2007, the play raises questions about the pre-revolutionary potential of contemporary protest movements. It premiered at the Staatstheater Oldenburg in February 2012 during the Go West festival and had its Dutch premiere at the Frascati Theatre.

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