Theater Willy Praml: Heine and Cholera

  • ofAnja Laud

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The Willy Praml Theater in Frankfurt is staging a highly topical text by Heinrich Heine. Due to the corona, the audience looks at the windows of the Naxoshalle from the parking lot.

People who celebrate carnival in spite of the outbreak of an epidemic, who spread conspiracy theories that cost others their lives, dead people who, because of their large numbers, are taken away in moving trucks. Heinrich Heine described all of this when he wrote about the outbreak of cholera in Paris in 1832. The text is so current that the Willy Praml Theater in Frankfurt is starting its anniversary year with it. Under the title “Heine. I’m talking about cholera ”, director Michael Weber combines the Heine article with Verdi’s opera“ La Traviata ”.

The theater ensemble, which has been in existence for 30 years this year, took full risk in staging the article that the poet Heinrich Heine wrote for the “Allgemeine Zeitung” in Augsburg.

“We have now scheduled the premiere and the performances in June at a time when the incidence was very high and it was not yet foreseeable that it would fall as low as it is now,” says Michael Weber, the director and co-founder of the stage that has been since Resided in the Naxoshalle, a former factory for abrasives, in Ostend for over 20 years.


The release from “Heine. I’m talking about cholera ”on Wednesday, June 2nd, in the Willy Praml Theater, Waldschmidtstr. 19, in Frankfurt, is already sold out.

Further open air performances in the Naxoshalle will follow on June 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th as well as on June 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, always at 8 p.m. Two matinee performances are planned for Sundays, June 6th and 13th, at 12 noon. Tickets cost 20 euros, reduced prices 14 euros. lad

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The morbid charm of the old factory hall fits in with the Paris of the early 19th century, in which, as Heine describes in his article, so-called “chiffonniers” swept rubbish and human waste in order to then look for something that could still be used while the rich ” to healthier areas ”.

Weber lets the seven actors appear at the open windows of the Naxoshalle in the open-air production required due to the corona pandemic. The audience, between 65 and 70 people are allowed, watches from the parking lot in front of the building as they recite Heine’s article. In order to preserve the force of the text, Weber only shortened it where it would not have been easily understandable for today’s audience due to contemporary allusions.

The director is enthusiastic about how Heine describes the outbreak of the epidemic, his powers of observation, his biting humor, for example when he talks about the Archbishop of Paris, who offers the government his ailing castle as a hospital so that it can renovate it for him. And also when he describes a carnival celebration in which people collapse dead and are buried a little later in their carnival costumes.

Weber connects Heine’s text in his production with the third act of “La Traviata”, Verdi’s opera, in which the courtesan Violetta dies of another scourge of the 19th century: tuberculosis.

It was originally planned that the entire Heinrich Heine Choir would perform, but this is not possible due to the current pandemic. But three tenors of the choir will sing. If you want to get a foretaste of the play: A trailer can be found on the theater’s homepage.


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