Katie of Heilbronn
by Heinrich von Kleist
"Katie of Heilbronn! O heaven! The world is out of joint! If Count vom Strahl, this confidant of the angels, can get himself free from this paramour to whom he is affianced, I’ll make the prophecy come true, I’ll persuade Theobald under one pretext or another to turn the girl over to me, and I’ll get the two of them married; after all, I’m not going to take the risk of having this cherub come down to earth a second time…"
Kleist’s play takes prophetic dreams, mysteries and intrigue, a cherub that saves lives and a love that knows no bounds, and weaves them into a fantastical fairytale with a wondrously happy ending. The story of 15-year-old Katie and her beloved Count Friedrich Wetter vom Strahl is Kleist’s most successful drama – but also his most enigmatic one. This romantic medieval drama contains a variety of themes which, when taken together, testify to Kleist’s inner conflict. Just 30 years old and full of despair, torn between hope and his longing for death, Kleist created a “dream world” on paper. But even this couldn’t save him. In 1811, at the age of 34, Kleist shot himself – along with his terminally ill “soulmate” Henriette Vogel – by the shore of Lake Wannsee near Berlin.
To mark the 200th anniversary of Kleist’s death, director Andreas Kriegenburg and six actors trace the roots of this incredible tale, spun by a writer radical enough to let his imagination run wild. Kriegenburg uses Kleist’s biography to guide his audience through the production, linking the playwright’s life to his work. What should you trust: reason or emotion? Which is more real: dreams or reality? In 'Katie of Heilbronn', Heinrich von Kleist clearly places his confidence in feelings and dreams.
December 8, 2011.