The School for Wives
Translated and adapted by Sabrina Zwach
A man with a vision. Monsieur Arnolphe has found the ideal solution to escape the fate which he believes awaits all men, namely to be cheated on by their wives. He has made the orphan Agnès his ward, and raises her entirely secluded from society and without an education. His goal is to make her his submissive wife who can’t be led astray by a third party as she has no knowledge of them. A School for Wives?
While Arnolphe is away, Horace, the son of a friend, discovers the girl and falls in love with her at first sight. She does so too, but due to her seclusion she has no sense of what it is she is experiencing. She treats the young man the way she was taught to treat others – politely and courteously. But as it is written in the book of life, desires grow, pushing for a quick decision and cunningly laid plans. A School for Wives!
On his return Horace asks Arnolphe for money – confidentially revealing that he needs it to free a young girl from the clutches of her Cerberus. This falls on sympathetic ears, since Monsieur Arnolphe is more than happy to leave his compatriots to their self-inflicted fate – so long as his own treasure is safe. Until he suddenly realizes that he is becoming the victim of his narrow-mindedness – neither did he reckon with the seductive powers of love, nor with the corruptibility of servants. Molière’s masterful twisting of Arnolphe’s and Horace’s competing intrigues results in Arnolphe unintentionally becoming the director, audience, prisoner and victim of his own destiny – a tragicomical Oedipus. The conflicts escalate dangerously, until at literally the last minute, the right marriage is brought about. Jealousy can be prevented only by renunciation.
Welcome material for director Herbert Fritsch, the theatrical fire accelerant on German stages. Under his direction the stories and characters attain maximum speed and energy: to the advantage of the performances and the delight of audiences. Now Herbert Fritsch has arrived at the Schauspielhaus, where he has previously starred as an actor in guest roles.
Photos © Thomas Aurin
Director and Stage Designer: Herbert Fritsch Costume Design: Victoria Behr Music: Ingo Günther Lighting Design: Annette ter Meulen Dramaturgy: Sabrina Zwach, Michael Propfe