Disabled, sick, unusual, handicapped, differently abled, challenged, individual, strange, special, crazy… The Ship of Fools is part of the Berlin performance company Monster Truck’s exploration of “mental illness” that began at Schauspielhaus Bochum in the 2018/2019 season with the revolutionary drama Marat/Sade after Peter Weiss performed in a psychiatric ward.

The never-ending journey of one hundred fools to a fictional Narragonia

In the medieval moral satire The Ship of Fools from 1494, written by Sebastian Brant as so-called German humanism, 100 fools set off for a fictional Narragonia. Of course they never arrive, but experience entertaining adventures on their journey, energetically stirring up a concoction of foolery and singing their hearts out.  The real historical ships of fools were considerably less entertaining, being used in the Middle Ages to remove the mentally ill and disabled from cities and abandoning them to their deaths on the open seas.  In the medieval city of Ghent, where the production will be created as part of a two-year co-production between Schauspielhaus Bochum and NTGent, Monster Truck set off on foot together with performers with intellectual disabilities on a latter day pilgrimage to Narragonia – and ultimately Bochum.

The author Sebastian Brant (1457 – 1521) was a lawyer and Chancellor of the free imperial city of Strasbourg. He was one of the most productive authors of Latin devotional poetry and edited ancient classical texts. The Ship of Fools with its satirical pearls of wisdom established his fame as a writer. Exploring the representation of power and powerlessness is central to the theatre of Monster Truck. In their works science fiction encounters bygone ages, the aesthetics of Hollywood the showmanship of the 19th century, artistic conventions are combined with natural history, politics and entertainment. Monster Truck was founded in 2005 by students of Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen and has worked ever since with changing personnel in the fields of performance and visual arts. The core of the group is currently made up of Sahar Rahimi and Manuel Gerst along with the dramaturg Marcel Bugiel. Their works have won numerous awards. They tour internationally and have been presented at leading festivals. In 2019 Monster Truck was awarded the distinguished Tabori Prize, the most prestigious award in the independent performing arts in Germany.

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  • Das Narrenschiff
  • (The Ship of Fools)
    Text: after Sebastian Brant
  • Premiere: June 2020
Co-production with Monster Truck and NTGent
Funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation’s Doppelpass programme