The Day I was No Longer Me
6 October 2023
Roland Schimmelpfennig is considered one of the most radical and prominent contemporary playwrights. His play The Day When I was No More Me (2018) deals with contemporary anxiety and anguish in a remarkably clever, shrewd, and unpredictable way.
It brings to the fore a nuclear family unit, consisting of a father, a mother and their two children, a son and a daughter. As they sit down at the family table on a summer evening, the mundanity of the situation in which every gesture is predictable and when they have nothing to say to each other, begins to crumble at the point when the father and husband’s double enters the room. This gesture, which is quite common in drama mainly for its comic repercussions, triggers the brutality of the protagonists’ confrontation with themselves and their own past and future.
As the title of the play suggests, we are faced with the gradual deconstruction of a day when a person has surrealistically ceased to be himself and has thus delved deep in what established him as an individual. Schimmelpfennig unfolds a prospect of looking into our own lives if we could turn back time and make different choices in the past. He replays the moments already lived by the protagonists which have idiosyncratically shaped their present and questions the possibility of a different present. In doing so, he makes a deep and harsh incision into the human psychology of unfulfilled and unexpressed desires that culminate in our frustrations and inability to face the present moment. He exposes intimate relationships and draws a parallel between the political or social and the personal, while dissecting family dynamics, marriage and the role of parenthood in the overwrought and hyper-productive present.
Schimmelpfenning engages in an interplay of the disjunction between the real and the fictional. This is also the aim of our staging strategy: the desire of the performance is to create a narrative about an individual and their family in today’s predicament through a collective narrative logic, balancing a fine line between the violently real and the dreamily humorous. When a person feels that everything is available to them except their own life, the question arises, what is it that actually determines a person’s identity – is it one’s choices, environment or the relationships in which one is entrenched?