Heracles was the first human worker. A contracted worker: he was given twelve tasks which included killing the nine-headed Hydra, that are known as the “labours of Heracles”. This legendary figure also inspired the dramatist Heiner Müller. In his story Heracles 2 or The Hydra he describes Heracles’ walk through the forest in search of the many-headed monster that ends in discovering himself and his own place in the world.  

Following their acclaimed adaptation of Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Bilder deiner großen Liebe director Tom Schneider and the musicians and actors Moritz Bossmann, Sandra Hüller and Sandro Tajouri embark on a new musical and theatrical adventure.

The Labours of Heracles

What has Heiner Müller’s text inspired you to do?
Tom Schneider: First of all the text and Heracles’ wanderings have inspired me to question space and time in the theatre. What is a protagonist: what role does he have to play? And how can you offer people a direct experience in the theatre rather than an evening that is narrated from beginning to end in the classical manner?  The text is very physical and cathartic. That should be expressed in the theatrical space and within one’s own body. The text also raises the question regarding the twelve (or in Heiner Müller’s version thirteen) labours of Heracles of what work actually is. And that connects up again with Heiner Müller’s theoretical principles about the theatre: how can these be narrated in a way that is – as it were - circular? How often do you need to take a particular path, let’s say: to bury someone before you genuinely reach the end?

Work enables us to survive but destroys the place we live in

What kind of production do you envisage?
We want to look for tableaus, for images you can lose yourself in and then find yourself again – just like Heracles does in the forest. Maybe it’s possible to tell all this in one big song. Either way, I think Müller’s idea is really exciting that the 13th labour (killing your loved ones, in Heracles’ case his family) is not the cause that precedes the other labours but the inevitable consequence of the twelve labours. If you follow this logic: it is impossible to stop working. Actions become automatic. Like muscles twitching. Or: work in aid of civilisation (culture) permits the survival of the human species on the one hand while at the same time destroying the place it lives (nature). Or: our hands are not only organs of work but the products of them – at least that’s what Friedrich Engels says.

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  • Duration: 1:15h, no break
  • Premiere: 11.10.2019
  • Language: German with English surtitles (not for livestreams)
Video-Trailer DIE HYDRA (c) The Laboratory of Manuel Buerger
All people
Press voices

Heiner Müller hätte an diesem Abend vermutlich seine Freude gehabt.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Martin Krumbholz

Die Hydra ist ein sperriges Stück, das packt und fordert – und die Zuschauer in einen überwältigenden Sog aus wuchtigen Bildern und satten Beats zieht.
WAZ, Sven Westernströer

Eine eindringliche theatrale Erfahrung.
Westfälischer Anzeiger, Achim Lettmann