“The capitalist economic system demands this ruthless dedication to the profession of making money.” This was Max Weber’s view in 1904. Since Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, it is reputed to be the most-read and also the most influential book in the USA after the Bible. Ayn Rand describes how it is of all people the elite, the wealthy and powerful who use the traditional tools of the political left and go on the eponymous strike: as a protest against the egalitarianism of the liberal socialist state that demonises creativity and excellence.

This novel is the most-read book in the USA after the Bible.

Although Ayn Rand would herself fall back on the services of the welfare state in old age, as a fifty-year-old she wrote this novelistic profession of faith for the meritocratic elite, in which she propagandised a social order in which competition stimulates individuals to become high achievers and places as few limits on individual performance as it does on striving for wealth. The egotism of the few is the driver of the prosperity of the many: in other words, it is not merely subjectively advantageous, it is also a moral imperative on behalf of everyone. Solidarity on the other hand restricts the potential of the individual and is therefore morally reprehensible.

Director Nicolas Stemann risks a new reading of this novel that was written during the Cold War and the comparison with a present-day society which, according to one’s perspective, is described as aggressive neoliberalism or over-regulated “semi socialism” (Peter Sloterdijk). In his production he raises the question of whether solidarity is a one way street and what exactly it is that keeps a community together. Or allows it to fly apart.

Co-operation between Zürich and Bochum

Nicolas Stemann is one of the most prestigious contemporary theatre and opera directors. His productions have been invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen on numerous occasions. From the 2019/2020 season he is co-Artistic Director of Schauspielhaus Zürich together with Benjamin von Blomberg. The production The Strike arrives at Schauspielhaus Bochum as part of a long-term co-operation: Transfer Bochum/Zürich!

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  • The Strike
  • Text: after Ayn Rand
  • Premiere: May 2020
A Schauspielhaus Zürich production