The Brothers Karamasov
By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
In his final novel, which is a family, crime, and legal drama all in one, Fyodor M. Dostoevsky recounts the events surrounding the murder of monstrous Fyodor Karamasov and the criminal investigations into his sons, Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha. This “story of a family”, as it is described in the first book in the novel, exposes the abysmal relationships between the characters, as members of a family and as human beings, as well as the porous carcass of an outdated society around the middle of the 19th century. It is a time when religion and nascent liberalism clash, God is called into question, and the soul is declared to be a thing that can be causally understood – turning the certainties of the “older generation’s” existence into ashes. In the court case over Karamasov’s murder, a whole epoch is thus symbolically placed on trial, and almost inevitably the outcome is a judicial error. For almost everyone involved it ends in disaster, since they are unable to leave the Old behind, and perish in the necessary “rebirth of humanity”. The statement “If God is dead, everything is permitted”, which became famous, so shocked the readers at the time that not unlike Goethe’s »Werther« it caused a veritable wave of suicides.
140 years after the novel was published, it again seems that current law and sense of justice are increasingly drifting apart. In view of the climate crisis, massive migration, democracies in crisis and a global pandemic that few people believed possible, humanity needs another radical rebirth, against which great forces resist.
Oliver Frljić was the artistic director of the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka until he resigned in protest against Croatian cultural politics in 2016. Since 2015 he has worked as a director throughout Europe, and increasingly in German-speaking theatre. With »The Brothers Karamasov« he continues his engagement with Dostoevsky’s oeuvre and works as a director at the Deutsches SchauSpielHaus for the first time.