Before the Dogs / Labor Battles

by Goran Ferčec (text) and Gregor Schwellenbach (music)

ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN (Labor Battles) is a theater text, which was created as part of the two-year (2013-14) international project Battle of the Nations. The Croatian author Goran Ferčec describes in his text a visit to Saturn’s empire (a chain store from international multimedia group SATURN) in crisis-ridden Greece, where he buys a CD of St. Matthew Passion and weaves its contents with the real story of hunger-striking seamstresses in his hometown of Zagreb.(This labor dispute is based on true events.)

The theater piece follows the division of the text that begins with the description of the situation in the Kingdom of Saturn in an unnamed Greek city from the perspective of the narrator himself (author’s alter ego) and ends with the escape from Saturn’s Kingdom, including the flight back to Zagreb. This scene takes part in a monologue.

The following second part is then the description of the hunger strike by 200 seamstresses from Zagreb. They are victims of the textile industry, which was destroyed by privatization. They have been waiting for their salaries for over 5 months now. The seamstresses don’t go home after their 8-hour workday, but instead spend the rest of the day at the factory, in the hope, that their wages will finally be paid. In this part, the text takes on elements from St. Matthew Passion such as chant, recitative, narrator, and solo parts, which give it a unique structure. The music is congenial composed by the German musician Gregor Schwellenbach.

The international ensemble from 4 different countries (Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey), also reflects the strong European dimension in the composition and contents of the entire project ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN (Labor Battles): A Croatian author writes about real events – the European economic crisis beginning in Greece and reflected on the Croatian workers’ hunger strike against the backdrop of a neoliberal-influence, gone-wild global economy – and text based on his subjective experiences, which he created for this German independent theater ensemble.

Great the final scene with Goran Ferčecs “Arbeitsschlachten“ (Labor Battles) about a workers’ hunger strike in the form of a Bach Passion.
Hans-Christoph Zimmermann, choices, May 2014

The final chorus is spectacular, in which Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” from the Kingdom of child-eating media hero Saturn to the hunger strike by textile workers cheated out of their wages (text from the Croatian Goran Ferčec). Manuel Klein sings the Evangelist and directs the whole band to the music of Bach Gregor Schwellenbach.
General-Anzeiger Bonn, 09. April 2014

The Croatian author Goran Ferčec deals with the hunger strike of female garment workers in a textile factory. Heuel dresses this in a class-struggle Oratorio, a passion play, which no one believed is still possible. Actresses talk and sing to the monotonous beat of sewing machines that they stand in front of. Men provide the choral counterpart and the music of Bach raises an event, which one knows, how depressing this ordinariness is, out of this very ordinariness. For that alone “Vor den Hunden” (Before the Dogs) is worth it.
Leipziger Volkszeitung, March 2014


Find more information about BEFORE THE DOGS / ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN: fringe ensemble.


With support from: City of Bonn, NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste e.V. (North Rhine Westphalia Bureau for the Performing Arts), Kunststiftung NRW (Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia).

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