The Lonely Way (Der einsame Weg)
by Arthur Schnitzler
Johanna and Felix are siblings; both are in their early twenties and somewhat lacking in direction. They find themselves surrounded by people with chequered pasts – ones which were most colourful around the time Felix and Johanna were born. Back then the lives of three men, all befriended artists, were closely connected: they slept with the same women and looked forward to rosy futures. One of them was being hailed as the next big thing in modern painting, another gave up his career as an officer to become a successful poet, while the third – Johanna and Felix’ father – led an orderly life between family and artistic officialdom. Now these three men have reached middle age and their past -- and the women from it -- catches up with them. Soon Johanna and Felix’ young lives become bartering chips in a society which fights for its very raison d'être with incredible ruthlessness.
With 'The Lonely Way', Viennese doctor, writer and philanderer Arthur Schnitzler penned an unsparing self-portrait which, he claimed, led him to shed "tears of despair". After going through many versions with telling titles like 'The Bachelor' and 'Egoists', the play had its world premiere at the Deutsches Theater Berlin in 1904. 'The Lonely Way' is considered to be Schnitzler’s first great theatre piece; prior to this he was known as a master of the short form. Christian Petzold is one of Germany’s most acclaimed filmmakers. This production of 'The Lonely Way' marks his debut as a theatre director. The ghosts of the past, which inform Schnitzler’s play, also play a major role in Petzold’s films 'The State I Am In' ('Die Innere Sicherheit'), 'Ghosts', 'Yella' and 'Jerichow'.
March 14, 2009