Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021

As an established expert on nocturnal phenomena and the itinerant creatures that arise from spellbound fears, Barbara Frey opens her artistic directorship by immersing herself along with an eight-person multilingual ensemble in the imaginary world of Edgar Allan Poe.

About the play

The director Barbara Frey is an established expert on nocturnal phenomena and the itinerant creatures arising from spellbound fear. To open her three years as Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale she sets off along with a multilingual ensemble of actors and live musicians on a journey into the imaginative world of Edgar Allan Poe, who expressed loneliness like practically no one else – though his insights into people’s uncontrollable inner lives revealed through images of unbridled imaginative power.

Poe is the polar opposite of a bright, shiny, bourgeois world. He tempts us into darkness, he is a manipulator who deliberately blurs our ability to distinguish between reality and imagination, distorting time and bringing rooms to life, turning them into characters laden with memories that affect the people living in them. Within his stories, zones of dream, reality and rapture remain in conflict – while simultaneously feeding off each other. Questions about the distinctions between conscious and unconscious perception, about the recognition or non-recognition of existence need to be asked all over again.


The Fall of the House of Usher is the story of a farewell, a collapse of both body and soul. At the same time it is also the story of an extreme, hypersensitive perception of space and the events inscribed within it, of music into which language dissolves – and of silence, the echoless quiet that characterises every state of emergency in the face of the unknown, of extinction, of death.

There is no place more suitable for leaving the world behind and plunging into one’s own darkness than the free-standing, decommissioned power plant from the last century now steeped in history – the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck.

Co-produced by Burgtheater Vienna and Ruhrtriennale.

Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey. From left Deborah Korley, Markus Scheumann, Katharina Lorenz, Jan Bülow, Annamária Láng and Michael Maertens
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey. From left Deborah Korley, Markus Scheumann, Katharina Lorenz, Jan Bülow, Annamária Láng and Michael Maertens | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey. From left Tommy Hojsa, Josh Sneesby
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey. From left Tommy Hojsa, Josh Sneesby | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey. In the centre Michael Maertens
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey. In the centre Michael Maertens | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey. In the front Deborah Korley
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey. In the front Deborah Korley | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher,  Barbara Frey. From left Annamária Láng, Katharina Lorenz, Deborah Korley, Michael Maertens, Jan Bülow and Markus Scheumann
Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Barbara Frey. From left Annamária Láng, Katharina Lorenz, Deborah Korley, Michael Maertens, Jan Bülow and Markus Scheumann | © Matthias Horn / Ruhrtriennale 2021

Audio introduction

In the audio introduction, dramaturge Andreas Karlaganis talks about Edgar Allan Poe's Der Untergang des Hauses Usher and asks director Barbara Frey about her scenic realisation in the Maschinenhalle Zweckel.

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