Gorky places Children of the Sun in the late 19th century, focusing on a group of idealistic intellectuals and artists completely detached from the harsh realities of the outside world. As the story progresses, they increasingly struggle with their own internal contradictions, while the world around them undergoes significant social and political changes, i.e. revolution. The Slovenian director Mateja Koležnik places her Children of the Sun in a time a little closer to ours, and in the context of a kind of revolution, i.e. in the sixties of the 20th century, building precise and detailed portraits of the characters, in the same very detailed, precise and hyper-realistic depiction of the stage. At first glance, this play seems like a museum artefact, a theatrical exhibit from a bygone era. However, what Koležnik really does is bring Gorky's characters closer to us, the people of today, who live in a world defined again and again by crises.
About the Performance
And every day anew tea has to be served, tidied up, cooked, something repaired. Every day you have to jump when someone calls for you. And always the stench from the private laboratory of the head of the family who thinks he can develop new organic matter. None of them knows how to handle the money either. The worst thing, however, is that you constantly have to listen to the do-nothings, who pass the time with their love affairs, their painting and their scientific dilettantism, trying to remedy the primitive state of the masses ...
Maybe that's how they think, the employees in Protasov's house, without whom nothing would work here. The scientist Protasov cannot concern himself with profane things like everyday life. He wants to bring about progress, chemically and intellectually. Nothing less than the final liberation of humanity is the focus of all his work. Thus he has neither an eye for the widow Melaniya, who is burning in desperate love for him, nor - and this is worse - for his wife, who turns lonely to their mutual friend Wagin. The tender signs of love between his sister Lisa, who has long been severely traumatised by the sight of bloody street riots, and the morally deranged veterinarian Tschepurnoi also escape him - as does the catastrophe that is brewing between the two. But cholera is rampant on the streets, there are deaths, and suddenly the air in the ivory tower becomes dangerously thin.
MAXIM GORKY - a pseudonym that translates as "the bitter one" - wrote the play during his imprisonment in the Peter and Paul Fortress, where Dostoevsky was also imprisoned. Written in the aftermath of the so-called St. Petersburg Bloody Sunday, which was to usher in the Russian Revolution of 1905, Children of the Sun is a tragi-comic inventory of a deeply divided society that must reinvent itself if its days are not to be numbered.
MATEJA KOLEŽNIK, born in 1962 in Metlika (Slovenia), studied philosophy, comparative literature and literary theory at the University of Ljubljana and theatre direction at the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television Ljubljana. She is one of the most renowned directors of contemporary Slovenian theatre and has directed at many important theatres in the former Yugoslavia, including Zagreb, Belgrade, Maribor and Ljubljana. Her directing works have received many awards and have been shown at European and international festivals. Since 2012, she has also worked in German-speaking countries, including at Schauspiel Leipzig, Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna, Schauspiel Stuttgart, Theater Basel, Berliner Ensemble and several times at the Residenztheater in Munich and the Burgtheater. In November 2018, Mateja Koležnik won the prestigious Austrian Nestroy Theatre Prize for her production of Ivanov by Anton Chekhov at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt.
From the Reviews
A look into the ivory tower: inside, love rages through idyllic prosperity, outside, cholera incites the mob against the elites. Mateja Koležnik talks to Maxim Gorki about the mood that precedes revolutions. In a rare theatrical language.
Martin Krumbholz, nachtkritik.de
An exhilarating return to great theater virtues.
Lars von der Gönna, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
A present social comedy that asks many current questions along the way.
Tom Thelen, Ruhr Nachrichten