The Lives of Others
World premiere of stage adaptation
31 January 2020
1984, East Berlin. A secret service agent supervises uninterruptedly a playwright and his partner, an actress. His eavesdropping and witnessing of all the dimensions of love in their lives transforms his view of the world – and his own role in it.
What is it that attracts us so strongly to the lives of others? Is it, perhaps, to do with our own search of what we are – or maybe what we are not? This is a basic nuclear reaction of theatre. Empathy has enormous power. Perhaps history exists only so that we can change the present through it. Perhaps we can observe our future in the lives of others.
The future enters us in order to transform us long before it happens. Today is not the year 1984 and we are not in East Berlin. We are not part of any apparent totalitarianism. The society of surveillance remains though, but we can no longer embody it in one single apparatchik, one culprit and one name. Perhaps, this is why any change is more difficult to achieve: the perpetrator of repression in a democratic society is the capitalist machine, invisible and faceless. Perhaps it was easier when we could attribute a face to evil. Perhaps it was easier when we knew what we should not say. When everything seems to be possible, there is no possibility left to us, no alternative.
Lenin refused to listen to Beethoven’s Appassionata because every time he listened to it, he felt an irresistible urge to caress people’s heads and speak gentle words, but he felt that he had to strike their heads without mercy. Love and art can change politics precisely therein where it actually begins: in an individual.
It is imperative to listen to what can change us.
It is imperative to listen to what we are not.