Before the dogs / work slaughter

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

ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN is a theater text created as part of the two-year (2013/14) international project VÖLKERSCHLACHTEN. In his text, Croatian author Goran Ferčec describes his visit to Saturn’s empire (a branch of the international multimedia corporation SATURN) in crisis-ridden Greece, where he purchases a CD of the St. Matthew Passion and interweaves its contents with the real-life story of hunger-striking seamstresses in his hometown of Zagreb. (This labor dispute is based on real events).

The staging follows the dichotomy of the text, which begins with the description of the situation in Saturn’s realm in an unnamed Greek city from the point of view of the narrating I (alter ego of the author) until the escape from Saturn’s realm including the flight back to Zagreb. This part is formally a monologue.

The following second part is then the description of the hunger strike of 200 seamstresses from Zagreb. They are victims of the textile industry, which was destroyed by privatization. They have been waiting for their wages for 5 months now. After their eight-hour workday, they do not go home, but spend the rest of the day in front of the factory, hoping that their salaries will finally be paid. In this part, the text takes elements of the Passion such as chorale, recitative, narrator and solo parts, giving it a structure all its own.

With the congenial music to this text by the German musician Gregor Schwellenbach, this text becomes a modern musical theater. The ensemble is international with actors from 4 nations (PL, CH, D, D/TR), just as the entire project ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN has a strong European dimension in its composition and content: A Croatian author writes a text based on real events – the European crisis beginning in Greece mirrored in the hunger strike of Croatian workers against the backdrop of a neoliberal world economy out of control – and subjective experiences, which a German-based independent theater ensemble develops for the stage.

Great the final scene with Goran Ferčec’s “Labor Battles” about the hunger strike of women workers in the form of a Bach Passion.
Hans-Christoph Zimmermann, choices, May 2014

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

The Croatian author Goran Ferčec addresses the hunger strike of seamstresses in a textile factory. Heuel dresses this up in a class struggle oratorio, a passion play that one did not believe was still possible in this way. Actresses speak and sing to the monotonous beat of the sewing machines in front of which they stand. Men provide the choral counterpart, and Bach’s music elevates an incident, known to be depressingly mundane, from that very ordinariness.
Leipziger Volkszeitung, March 03, 2014

Learn more about VOR DEN HUNDEN / ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN on the fringe ensemble website.

Sponsored by: Bundesstadt Bonn, NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste e.V., Kunststiftung NRW.