PREMIERE – 06.07.2022

World Premiere by Tilman Strasser

Artistic Direction : Stefan Herrmann 

Stage and Costume Design: Trixy Royeck and

Veronika Witlandt

Dramaturgy: Nora Giese

With: Bettina Muckenhaupt; Gerd Köster, Georg Lenzen,

Michael Meichßner

as well as citizens of Cologne

Carnival in the Third Reich. A carnival speaker enters the stage. It is the popular Karl Küpper. The National Socialists have forbidden him to speak – he would prefer to disappear completely, the Gestapo henchmen are already standing by. But “d’r Verdötschte” doesn’t let himself be beaten: he sits down on the stage, raises his arm in the obligatory Hitler salute and then just says: “Eß et am rähne…”? He clenches his hand into a fist, the greeting of the communists: “Nä, mer han esu en Wedder”! This is an unprecedented provocation against the Nazis. Küpper unbendingly confronts all resistance. Even after the war, his criticism remains unwelcome, and even Adenauer, through the mayor of Cologne, exerts pressure on the carnival societies to stop booking him. Küpper is thus denied recognition for his civil courage until the end of his life.

Küpper’s story now comes to the stage with an ensemble of actors and Cologne citizens. Küpper is played by a Cologne legend: the singer and actor Gerd Köster.

Director Stefan Herrmann, known for productions such as DRUGLAND at Neumarkt and winner of the Monica Bleibtreu Prize, is staging the life of the “Verdötschten” for the Volksbühne am Rudolfplatz, Cologne’s most traditional stage, which was banned by the Nazis during the Third Reich because of its commitment to culture without censorship. The author Tilman Strasser, awarded the Dieter-Wellershoff-Stipendium of the city of Cologne, wrote the play especially for this production.

Küpper’s fate is flanked by stories of Cologne citizens who are involved in carnival and use this tradition to pull the wool over the eyes of the authorities. Based on Küpper’s life, the evening deals with the big question: How far are you willing to go for your free opinion?

Der Unbeugsame TBM