Ronald Schernikau's mammoth final work is entitled ‘legende’ (legend) – a fitting reflection of his own legendary status. Born in Magdeburg in the year before the Wall was built, Schernikau became a political refugee against his own will at the age of six, when his mother smuggled him with her across the border to West Germany in the boot of a car – for love. But his father, who followed them later, led a double life both politically and privately. Mother and son stayed in the West, rootless outsiders. They ended up in Lehrte near Hanover, where the refugee child Ronald Schernikau scandalised people everywhere he went, as somebody who thought differently, loved differently and dreamt differently. He wrote his first novel, ‘Kleinstadtnovelle’ (Small-town Story), while still at school. This coming-out story, set in a small provincial town, was a surprise success. Schernikau moved to West Berlin in 1980, became a member of the Social Unity Party of West Berlin (SEW) and one of the most flamboyant figures of the city’s thriving gay scene. But his fight to be a writer and to be published became tougher all the time. Against the odds, Schernikau got a place to study at Leipzig’s Institute for Literature, and he described the abyss between the GDR and FDR in ‘die tage in l.’ (the days in l.) Schernikau became increasingly rootless, an outsider caught between two systems. When his mentor Peter Hacks advised him to emigrate to the GDR if he wanted to be a great poet, Schernikau overcame numerous hurdles to gain East German citizenship. On 1 September 1989 he moved to Berlin-Hellersdorf – swimming against the huge tide of people leaving the country. Just two years after the fall of the Wall he died from the effects of AIDS.
Director Bastian Kraft flies in the face of the nostalgia surrounding the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and goes in search of the contradictory and oppositional figure of Ronald Schernikau in a collage of his texts. He brings to light a Don Quixote of the reunification years, whose critique of capitalism and literary integrity have a greater chance of being understood today than during his own lifetime.
World Premiere November 7, 2014
Margit BendokatThe Mother
Elias ArensRonald M. Schernikau
Thorsten HierseRonald M. Schernikau
Wiebke MollenhauerRonald M. Schernikau
Bernd MossRonald M. Schernikau