The Visit of the Old Lady

She is back again. The old lady. An entire lifetime later. Back in her hometown of Güllen. What happened back then determined her lifepath and shall from now on also overshadow the life of her former lover – and end it. Multi-billionaire Claire Zachanassian and Alfred Ill – the last time they saw each other was in court, Ill’s denial of the past affair plunged the young lady into social misery. Having grown old, but rich, stinking rich, she returns. She promises the citizens of the bankrupt city a billion, on one condition: Alfred Ill must die.

Under the direction of Lydia Starkulla and assistant director Kristina Günther, the Flames class (9th/10th grade) of the Montessori School Hausham brought Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s perhaps most famous tragicomedy to the stage of the Bauerntheater Schliersee last Thursday and Friday. 19 students, accompanied and supported by their teachers Mira Kammerer and Louise Brand, started the project in October 2022. Starkulla as a professional actress and director supported the students with a lot of commitment and humor with their first steps on stage. Together, they selected roles, familiarized themselves with the texts and began rehearsals. The time from February 6 to the premiere on February 16 was used exclusively for rehearsals, during which time the students and teachers gave up their normal school lessons. An investment that paid off.

The 14-16 year olds stood confidently in front of the 200 or so guests in the Bauerntheater and drew the circle around the old lady’s former lover tighter from act to act. How mercenary is the human being? Under what circumstances are individuals excluded from a collective? What does a human life mean when measured against comprehensive social poverty? The play deals with these and other profound questions, which lose none of their relevance, even though The Visit of the Old Lady was first performed in Zurich in 1956. The Montessori students also brought comedy to the stage. On the one hand through the strong interpretation of the two eunuchs Koby and Loby, on the other hand through the ensemble of the students as a whole, which conveyed the joy of the project in each individual. The weeks of rehearsal were accompanied by ups and downs, just like professional actors. At the end there was the well-deserved prize: an enthusiastic audience and minutes of applause.