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 Longer 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 the life that they chose.
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, the choices we made, the people we chose. He replays the moments already lived by the protagonists which have idiosyncratically shaped their present, he questions their decisions and their expectations. In doing so, he makes a deep and harsh incision into the human psychology not only of unfulfilled and unexpressed desires, but also questions what if everything we wanted actually did come true, we just can’t see it that way? Or differently, in other words: what happens when our world crashes into the world of someone else? How is it possible that for the first time ever we actually become ourselves, while simultaneously, we start making incredible sacrifices? And in the end: what happens when this world we build together begins to crumble? He exposes intimate relationships and draws a parallel between the political or social and the personal, while dissecting family dynamics, marriage, the role of parenthood and most importantly, the position of being a child. 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?