Co-produced by Burgtheater Vienna and Ruhrtriennale.
Das Weite Land (The Vast Country) is one of the most important tragi-comedies of the fin de siècle. Arthur Schnitzler portrays a society that has lost its moral compass, a society that only applies the concept of liberty to individual advancement and can feel that this leaves a void. At the same time, it is sated: it allows itself to do without ideas and avoids planning any communal future. Production, expansion and consumption form the triumvirate bearing down on all aspects of life. The highest priority is that business continues. Nature is now regarded purely as territory that has yet to be cultivated (tourism for pleasure), intimacy is a commodity to be traded, love is a consumer good, every conversation is a dismissive acquisition of information. Fun stopped a long time ago. Schnitzler’s characters suffer from what a present-day diagnosis would describe as hedonistic depression. The potential for aggression, and for aggression directed against the self, is growing. Mutual contempt is kept simmering over a constant flame, in the full knowledge that such a feeling can soon be brought to the boil.
Not without a certain envy, Sigmund Freud noted that Schnitzler’s precise dialogue nimbly exposed what his own awkward efforts had tried to prove scientifically. With this production, following that of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Barbara Frey continues her three-year co-operation with the Vienna Burgtheater and its magnificent ensemble.