For ten years he was abandoned on an island, rejected by his comrades because of a stinking wound: Philoctetes (Philoktet) is perhaps the most unheroic of all Greek heroes, banished and forgotten. After expelling him from the war against Troy, Odysseus is now on a mission to bring him back after ten years of fighting, because only with his help can the Greeks win the war. It was a coalition of the unwilling that went to war against the Trojans on the side of the Greeks in the first place. Even the crossing to Troy was ill-fated: During a sacrificial service to the gods, Philoctetes was bitten in the leg by a poisonous snake. The wound turned black, and his cries disturbed the prescribed silence during the sacrificial rituals. After being cast out, the master archer Philoctetes remained on the island alone with his bow and festering leg, left for dead. In the meantime, the campaign against Troy turned into a disaster. A seer foretold that the war could only be won if Philoctetes was brought back with his bow. So now, the outcast and abandoned Philoctetes needs to be reintegrated into the community – a delicate mission. To win him back, Odysseus plays a trick on him: on his journey to fetch Philoctetes, he takes along a helpmate who harbours almost as much hatred for him, Odysseus, as Philoctetes does: Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles, whom he betrayed for his inheritance – his father’s weapons. Hate is to be the bond that connects Philoctetes with Neoptolemos and the Greek cause – hate against him, Odysseus, who exploits their hatred of him for the war against the Trojans. Because that is his one condition: they have to postpone their revenge against him until the battle for Troy has been won...
With Heiner Müller’s radical rewriting of the myth, the Iranian director Amir Reza Koohestani negotiates the question of belonging: exclusion and inclusion in a society that wants to destroy the "other" and destroys itself by tolerating only an ability to function. During the preparation of the production, the translator Mahmoud Hosseini Zad produced a translation of the piece into the Persian language, which will soon be published in Iran and thus contribute to further cultural exchange.
Music Bamdad Afshar
Lighting Marco Scherle
5 October 2019