by Hermann Hesse
“My story is the story of a human – not an imaginary, possible, ideal or other person that doesn’t exist, but a real, unique, living human.” This unique human’s name is Emil Sinclair, and he starts his recollection with the moment in which he realises that the world is made up of two worlds: one that is safe, mild, and light, and one that is dark, home to forbidden things, and to violence. This discovery fascinates Emil, whose own home doesn’t appear to know the dark side.
It enchants him in the form of street urchin Kromer, and being naïve and unexperienced, he would have fallen victim to him too – if not for Max Demian, who rescues him from Kromer’s clutches. Demian is different from anybody else that Sinclair has ever met. They are connected by a secret band, a mark that is visible only to those who wear it. Demian knows both the dark and the light world and opens Sinclair’s eyes to the view that neither should be preferred to the other. He tells him about free will, that everyone should be able to decide what is permitted and what is forbidden, that times are changing, and so are the rules. Therefore, you can only find the absolute in yourself. Demian is a step ahead of Emil. He appears to know his dilemma, his awakening sexuality, mystical tendencies, dissatisfaction with the conformity of middle-class life, but also to have overcome them. Against the backdrop of Europe descending into war, their paths separate and reunite.
Hermann Hesse published “Demian” soon after the end of the First World War. Europe has been destroyed, and along with it its concepts of morality and values. A new world could be created. But who is ready for it? Hesse traces Sinclair’s path of individuation. What makes us human? How malleable and seducible are we? Is there a mystical dimension that governs our destiny? How ready are we to fit into a society and not even begin to search for the path to ourselves? And if we do try to follow it, where does it take us? He faces up to the questions of becoming an adult and the fight to be human.
“The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.”
Directed by: Moritz Beichl Set Design: Ulrich Frommhold Costume Design: Astrid Klein Lightning Design: Jonathan Nacke Dramaturgy: Mathias Wendelin, Nora Khuon Sound: Nicanor Müller van der Haegen, Benjamin Owusu-Sekyere