At the invitation of the renowned Athens Epidaurus Festival, Johan Simons will stage Euripides' play Alkestis, first performed in 438 BC, for this year's 67th edition, first for the amphitheatre in Epidaurus and show it as the opening of the 2022/2023 season at the Schauspielhaus in Bochum.

Alkestis is a play about wrong decisions. However, about decisions that can be nothing but wrong, because they are based on a gift from the gods that far exceeds human measure and judgement. Admetos, ruler of Thrace, can escape an early death if, as the god Apollo holds out the prospect, he finds someone who is willing to go to his death voluntarily in his place. No one in his entire family can be found, even his parents refuse; only Alkestis, his wife, offers him this sacrifice. Alkestis, however, does not give up her life unconditionally. She dictates to Admetos how he is to deal with his further life, that is, her gift. He is not to enter into a second marriage in the interest of the children; she considers any possible second wife unsuitable and of lower sense than herself. She also makes it clear that - in the event of his demise - she could easily have married a second husband, and abundantly clear that she does not want to raise orphans herself - something Admetos will inevitably face. She also talks at length about the fact that his parents have not wanted to take on this renunciation of their respective lives. She makes Admetos aware of all the conflicts open to him after her death, so that in future he will have to live in the knowledge that he has received more from her than he can ever give back. This means that he gains a life without meaning - his life is to be dominated by perpetual grief and completely entrenched to the past. Alkestis and Admetos do not make each other's lives or death any easier; on the contrary, both seem equally pointless in the end. Alkestis' continued life after Heracles' deus ex machina rescue is unthinkable; when he brings her back and Admetos recognises her, she simply stands there, restored to a place that is no longer hers - and remains silent.

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  • Premiere: 10.09.2022
Co-produktion with Athens Epidaurus Festival