Himmelweg

Juan Mayorga wrote ‘Himmelweg’ or ‘Way to Heaven,’ in 2003. The play is inspired by the Nazis’ charade at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The play recounts the SS troops building a happy-go-lucky fake town for international Red Cross inspectors to visit. The Red Cross delegation wrote a report in favour of the Camp. The report avoided any kind of critical investigation of what was really going on, although the head-inspector did mention, that the inhabitants behaved a bit ’odd’.

Mayorgas multi-layered script deals not only with the historical brutality but also probes the meaning of theatre as a literary life and death event. The play begins years after the actual event with an account by the Red Cross employee, then leaps backward in time to show the creation and rehearsal of another very unusual play, the one in which the Jewish prisoners are assigned roles by a witty, cultured, humanistic Nazi Commandant. Moreover, the play constantly leaps in time, we are never quite sure if we are back in 1944 or right here, right now, in this very theatre space.

In this particular production the aim is not to present historical events but to question our will and ability to see and to act, especially in the current political climate where passive behaviour has become an increasing threat to democracy. These are questions of great concern to us; as citizens and as artists dealing with the subject matter. How do we, as privileged artists employed by The Royal National Danish Theatre, avoid turning the most horrible staging in world history into simple entertainment? There is no easy answer to this, but the questions seem to be of utter importance.

HIMMELWEG INFO