Alexander Giesche’s rhythmic production of Max Frisch’s tale “Man in the Holocene” shows human beings in an endless struggle against their own downfall. His interpretation, with a minimalist two-person cast, remains close to Frisch’s language and yet is embedded in the world of today. This bond between people playfully approaching each other, underpinned by a stage landscape dominated by digital media and modern technologies, is a stand-out feature of the piece. The production by the Schauspielhaus Zürich premièred on 23 January 2020 at its Pfauen venue, and was invited to appear at the 2020 Berlin Theatertreffen, with Alexander Giesche receiving the 3sat Prize. The work also garnered the Nestroy Prize 2020 in Vienna as the best German-language performance, and was selected in 2021 for the panorama at the Swiss Theatre Encounter.
Alexander Giesche was born in Munich in 1982 and is a theatre director and head of a performance collective. After studying applied theatre science in Giessen, he moved to the “DasArts” academy of experimental theatre and music in Amsterdam in 2011, where he completed a one-year MA programme. From 2012 to 2014 he was artist in residence at the Theater Bremen, before spending two years working on the “Future Shock” project at the Münchner Kammerspiele. Since the 2019/20 season he has been a member of the directorial team at the Schauspielhaus Zürich under Benjamin von Blomberg and Nicolas Stemann. In 2011, along with Lea Letzel, he won the critics’ award at the Körber Studio Junge Regie for the multimedia piece “Record of Time”. Giesche was named Young Director of the Year in the survey of critics carried out by the journal Theater heute in 2014 and 2016.
This award honours a staging that, successfully and with remarkable effectiveness, transforms the difficult text of Max Frisch’s apocalyptic novel into theatre. With its exemplary combination of authenticity and sense of spectacle, Giesche, Pfammatter and Reichert’s “Man in the Holocene” tackles issues of great topical relevance such as the fraught relationship between humanity and nature and the dissolution of memory and identity, yet without resorting to facile, fashionable effects. It also speaks to us about the hardships of the times we are living through, while reminding us of hope and the pleasure of play, of lightness and of beauty.