Das sind nicht wir is a dystopian vision of a society after an economical breakdown of the worst kind. It's basically the Apocalypse and Black Friday rolled into one: first all wheat crops fail and then the rest of the global economy starts to disintegrate to disastrous effects. Unemployment soars, mortgages are left unpaid, the children go hungry and their parents despair.
Sajko sums up the reactions to this economic and social meltdown in a generational conflict that also comments on what a consumerist society hands on to the next generation. It follows the question of what actually happens when the only basis of such a society breaks away. What is left when we don't have the possibility to go shopping anymore? Together with their job, their bank accounts and eventually their homes the adults lose all their self-esteem and simply retreat into their self-loathing, leaving their hungry offspring largely to themselves. And the kids? They yearn for everything their parents can't buy them, for shoes big enough for their growing feet, for food to fill their stomachs, but also for sports clothes, mobile phones, cars. There's a deeper yearning for respect too, for exactly the self-esteem their parents let go, for a future that is simply a bit less shite than the past. Sajko's monologue is full of references to looking glasses, reflections in shop windows, photographs. However, it is less the glitzy images of the fashion world than the glamour of crime as embodied in Bonnie and Clyde's series of 1930s robberies. Sajko presents shoplifting as the only kind of uprising the younger generation is capable of, the smashing of windows is only a means to steal the designer goods behind them, not an emblem of the will to change something. This world is quite generally one that has completely forgotten about any kind of 'us' - it's split into the tiniest of social units and peopled by individuals who are no longer capable of connecting with other human beings apart from superficial admiration and meaningless sex.
On a rather personal note, I found this a play which I wouldn't have been able to bear a mere three weeks ago: the descend of people who become unemployed is one that just went too close to the bone for me. I've been unemployed since the beginning of October (no sympathy, please, I quit out of free will and already have another job lined up, so I'm great again, thanks) and for some 7 weeks I had no idea what to do with myself and where I wanted to go (and whether I would get any chance to decide at all). Plus I had the immense pleasure of communicating with the job centre and had to realise that this truly is an institution that seems to have as their goal the demoralising of already demoralised people. From one moment to the other, all skills and qualifications, all prospects and projects become totally meaningless because you committed the crime of becoming unemployed - of becoming one blip in the statistic that is taken for political success like almost no other in this country. From tax payer to nothing at the stroke of midnight. You see this play - and a lot of other things too - in a different light after this experience. I've not taken up chain smoking though.
Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas by Ivana Sajko, Zimmertheater Tübingen, Spielzeit 2013/2014 Director and design: Michael Hanisch
Link to the Zimmertheater's website, including a video trailer: Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas
Next performance: Jan 31, 2014
All photographs: (c) Alexander Gonschior