Only flying

Marga von Etzdorf and Melli Beese

an obituary

by Maya Das Gupta

ONLY FLYING is the first collaboration with the young author Maja Das Gupta. Based on the author’s idea, the play is created in dialogue between her and the director. In the center of ONLY FLYING are two women who were considered as pioneers, being the first flying females. Life for them was worth living, only flying.

From the synopsis of the author: “Melly Beese had already issued her first study in a male domain by becoming a sculptress. Then came the thought of flying, not only that: she would go ahead and build aircrafts and even run a pilot’s training school. Until she falls in love with the wrong man, a Frenchman – who during WWI was public enemy number one. Her pilot’s license is withdrawn. After the war she attempts an aviation come-back and fails. A short time after, she commits suicide.

Similar is the fate suffered by Marga Etzdorf: Born into a privileged family, she as well – to the dismay of her parents – only wants to fly. Meanwhile, there had been other female pilots, but a “middle-class moral concept” looks different. Marga prevails. She becomes one of the first female, long-haul aircraft pilots. When she makes a serious technical mistake during a landing and her aircraft is damaged she realizes that never again will anyone entrust her with a plane. She shoots herself immediately, while still on the airfield.

The characters are artist personalities, who, when flying, they realize their ambitions. They are combined by a radical self-understanding that never asks for any gain for their individual deeds – an exciting topic at a time, when profit stands above all.”

Premiere: May 2012 in the Theater im Ballsaal, Bonn

The award-winning playwright Das Gupta, participant in the 2002 junior author meeting of the Bonn Biennale, has written this work within the framework of fringe writers on behalf of the fringe ensemble. It is, despite numerous original quotes and biographical testimonies, no docu-play but a study of two very different women who radically realized their dream of flying, breaking through the male sovereignty over the airspace.

Fringe director Frank Heuel staged the daredevil women with their flying machines in a successful mix of an airy pathos of freedom and burning passion. … An enthusiastic cheering audience at the sold-out fringe premiere.

Elisabeth Einecke-Klövekorn, General-Anzeiger Bonn, May 05, 2012

Das Guptas premiere in the Theater im Ballsaal uses pathos as theater mode, converting flying into mystery. For his label fringe writers Frank Heuel engaged two actresses, Bettina Marugg from fringe ensemble and Petra Weimer from Theater Rampe Stuttgart. Both are really strong in the co-production of the two stages. It is presented in the highly specialized line of Heuel’s fringe ensemble which develops the text and performance in collaboration with the authors.

It is Heuels handwriting you see on the Ballsaal stage. The two female pilots sit in between large projections in a cockpit in front of their fittings, in leather outfits and dark aviator sunglasses. A mystic, shinning sky opening behind them – a sky that belongs only to them. Or we see an empty cabin. Almost surprisingly, the text works very well with Heuels flexible treatment of it and the two pilot heroines.

H. D. Terschüren, Bonner Rundschau, May 05, 2012


From September 25 to 28 we show NUR FLIEGEND in the studiobühneköln in Cologne.