Das Weinen (Das Wähnen)

Dir. Christoph Marthaler Schauspielhaus Zurich, Switzerland

Das Weinen (Das Wähnen) is not an evening about Dieter Roth. There is no shred of biography nor of anecdotes, and not even the slightest reference to those moments when Christoph Marthaler and Dieter Roth crossed paths every now and then in Basel in the 1990s. Not a word about the fact that Marthaler received Das Weinen (Das Wähnen), Volume 2A (Sea of Tears 4) as a gift from Roth, and has been carrying it from city to city for many years. Nor could the setting in Marthaler’s production be associated with Roth’s works of visual art. Nothing of the sort. Marthaler’s production of Das Weinen (Das Wähnen) is about the language of Dieter Roth. And the question of how this language could be spoken. And when. And by whom. And under what circumstances. Roth himself once described his book Das Weinen (Das Wähnen), Volume 2A (Sea of Tears 4) as a “speech text.” This is not surprising, as Roth has an infinite number of speakers appear. Often they exist only for short moments, and sometimes only for one sentence. The speakers then take on character names, like this example:

Onefeelingdizzy 1 and Onefeelingdizzy 2

Choirs also feature in Roth’s work (A+B+ C+D+E+F+G+H), as do curtains and forecurtains, iron hats, ice cream, and pigs named Bob. How is one to react to such specifications? Is it necessary to have 450 costumes and at least as many scene changes? Christoph Marthaler has decided otherwise. His production of Das Weinen (Das Wähnen) is set in (more or less) everyday life, where despair and hope lie so close together that they almost form a single entity, something like: desperhope. Is it possible to depict such a thing? Dieter Roth might have answered this question thusly: “As soon as you represent something, it disappears in the representation. The universal symbol for representation is the magic hood of invisibility.”


Das Weinen (Das Wähnen)
based on texts by Dieter Roth


staging: Christoph Marthaler | stage design: Duri Bischoff | costumes: Sara Kittelmann | sounddesign: Thomas Schneider | musical production: Bendix Dethleffsen| light: Christoph Kunz | dramaturgy: Malte Ubenauf | audience development: Elena Manuel | theatre pedagogy: Manuela Runge | production assistant: Clara Isabelle Dobbertin | production trainee: Samuel Petit | set design assistant: Julia Bahn | costume assistant: Natalie Soroko | stage management: Aleksandar Sascha Dinevski | soufflage: Lea Theus, Gerlinde Uhlig-Vanet | tour management/International Relations & Touring Management: Björn Pätz

production: Schauspielhaus Zürich.
coproduced with: Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, Nanterre-Amandiers – centre dramatique national, Bergen International Festival, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne und International Summer Festival Kampnagel, Hamburg
supported by: Georg und Bertha Schwyzer-Winiker Stiftung and Pro Helvetia, Schweizer Kulturstiftung

cast: Liliana Benini, Magne Håvard Brekke, Olivia Grigolli, Elisa Plüss, Nikola Weisse, Susanne-Marie Wrage

premiere: 14.03.2020



Long live Marthaler Theatre.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

The six actors and actresses (Liliana Benini, Magne Havard Brekke, Olivia Grigolli, Elisa Plüss, Nikola Weisse, Susanne-Marie Wrage) perform a grandiose play.


When Nikola Weisse crows her Crying in the Rain, you’re blown away.


What a privilege (…) to watch the Nicole Kidman-like beauty Elisa Plüss glide through hundreds of mimic expressions, a virtuoso of the comic in one moment, the eerie, the crazy in the next.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

Marthaler (…) processes the dialogical, contradictory, sometimes completely devoid of meaning text with the usual linguistic precision, uses Roth’s fun with letter omissions for linguistic slapstick and Roth’s obsession with failure for cheerful comedy.

CH Media

He (Marthaler) has developed for us Swiss a folk art beyond folklore, and for that we will be eternally grateful to him.


Strange Neo-Dada, indeed! It is served with the typical Marthaler grotesques and slapsticks, which still work perfectly.




Born in Erlenbach near Zurich, Christoph Marthaler has been working as a theatre and opera director since the 1980s at the Theater Basel, the Volksbühne Berlin, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, the Münchner Kammerspiele and many other major theatres. His productions range from musical, collage-like evenings to idiosyncratic interpretations of classics. Many of his productions have been invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen, and he has twice received the Director of the Year award, as well as numerous other prizes. His productions are invited to festivals all over the world and some of them are performed again and again over many years. From 2002-2004 Christoph Marthaler was the artistic director of the Schauspielhaus Zurich, which was twice voted Theatre of the Year during this period. In 2004, Christoph Marthaler received the Berlin Theatre Prize together with Anna Viebrock. In 2017 he directed the opera Luluan at the Hamburg State Opera, which received the Performance of the Year award and the Fauster Theatre Prize. In Munich, at the Kammerspiele, he produced Tiefer Schweb in 2017. Ein Auffangbecken, the same year he returned to the Schauspielhaus Zurich with Mir nämeds uf öisan. Christoph Marthaler is a related artist at the Schauspielhaus Zurich.