Premiere: 19. April 2007

Other performances:
20. April 2007
21. April 2007
25. April 2007
26. April 2007
27. April 2007
28. April 2007


Photography - Sabine Lippert


PDF-Download [400KB]

Russia – Europe
Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

The project has set itself a daunting task: a dramatization of War and Peace that synthesizes a variety of artistic mediums. This undertaking continues the E9N’s series of projects devoted to the theme of Europe: after all, the relationship “Europe – Russia” was one of the central themes Tolstoy weaved into the work itself.

By tackling the theme of “war,” the project, very much in the vein of Tolstoy, avoids succumbing to the propagating the virtues of and worshipping so popular amongst historians, identifying instead with the common people and giving their situation and difficulties artistic expression.

Given the enormous, epic intellectual expanse of this literary work, a time-consuming re-enactment would at best be a mere patchwork. The complexity and richness of the thoughts and ideas presented to the reader defy imitation. Therefore only a work of art can respond to such a literary masterpiece. This is the sole intention of the project. The key thematic complexes of War and Peace are taken as the basis for a composition synthesizing various artistic mediums and presented in five musical-theatrical icons:
  1. Natasha
  2. Salon
  3. Countryside
  4. War
  5. Peace
Specially composed music, songs, choreographed dance performance, visual art in the form image projections (icons) comprising objects, costumes, and lighting – all of these elements, meticulously elaborated and synthesized into a coherent aesthetic, animate the textual movement of literary original, lending it a liveliness that surpasses our conventional imaginative power.

»The Homelessness of Fish«

To view this video you will need Apple Quicktime 7.

start video


Programme [1 MB]


Photography - Sabine Lippert
Bild 1 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 2 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 3 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 4 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 5 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 6 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 7 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 8 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]
Bild 9 JPEG [RGB 300dpi]

»The Homelessness of Fish«

Wilhelm Genazino, literary flâneur from Frankfurt am Main and recipient of the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize 2004, is a master of the scurrile. Genazino translates his impish approach to everyday goings-on into ever-new sensual images of metamorphosis. But is the longing of this metamorphosis directed towards the animal in humans or the human in animals?

Ambling through the city the flâneur lives out surprising metaphorical fantasies and riddles, frequently alluding to the metamorphosis of himself and his surrounds into animal figures. The narrative circles around love, money, fish, cityscapes, and other ironic delicacies of everyday life. Recitation of diverse text fragments, for instance on Romantic, prosaic, or philosophical love, and bitter-tender gasps of love play out their tryst, each in their own figure.

In the penultimate station of the 10 making up this city ballad, the human crowd comes across an unemployed man selling children’s trumpets and, taking him as an example, draws up a sobering résumé of the everyday process of dissolution, only for this process to transform into a collective oceanic longing for infinite vastness, into a longing for the freedom of fish, which as fate would seemingly inevitably have it, arrive in their final harbor and are packed in wooden crates to be sold – and are now no longer homeless.

Across a diverse array of theatrical modes of expression the production follows the idea of a total work of art, featuring specially composed live music played on a variety of instruments, multilayered jazzy songs with classical elements, choreographies full of poetry, highly original art objects fitting in with and enhancing the theatrical setting, and parallel projections. Under the direction of Helen Körte four actors, a hip-hop dancer and three musicians perform in ten visual settings.

Short Biography

Wilhelm Genazino, born in 1943 in Mannheim, worked first as a freelance journalist and then later as an editor at different journals and newspapers. In 1971 he turned to writing fulltime and has since published numerous works. Today Genazino lives in Frankfurt and is currently guest professor for poetics at the Frankfurt University. Literary Prizes 1998 Literature Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts 2003 Art Prize of the City of Berlin (the “Fontane Prize” awarded by the Berlin Arts Academy in the segment of literature) 2004 Georg Büchner Prize

Press Echo

Intelligent babble

With its mix of theatre, dance, music, and sculpture, The Homelessness of the Fish, so the title of the work, is a distinctive Körte invention and proof that a Roman candle can sometimes catapult flares with more fantasy than the rocket launchers of large theatres. In any case, one has never witnessed such intelligent babbling fish than in this play, as the four actors metamorphose into sea creatures, dive into a deep sea trench in their long fabrics, and murmur eternal pearls of wisdom like: days without love are down payments on death.

This sentence stems from no less an author than a Büchner Prize winner: Wilhelm Genazino, whose 1994 novel The Homelessness of Fish Körte has employed as a kind of zoo, picking out the most delectable creatures from its enclosures and aquariums. At one point she also breathes life into a brainless thing, a phone directory that lies soaked in the gutter but even in this state is still so attractive that it again and again captures the eyes of the flâneuer and evokes in him feelings of love – which comes as no surprise, for Raija Siikavirta, the beautiful Finn, plays this forlorn child of the communications industry. In contrast, true to form, Katrin Schyns, the blonde love-grasshopper, gives a highly commendable singing performance.

And apropos music: Martin Lejeune, the composer, has attuned it effectively to the ten visual settings. Only spatially is he on the margins, but even then he takes over the stage once together with the saxophonist Jens Hunstein and the percussionist Timo Neumann. It was so impressive that one would have nothing against it happening more often. But this is something the two Mongolian rams, Christian Lehmann-Carrasco and Fernando Fernandez, will not permit. Although they are lovesick rams, they are still creaturely enough to jam their horns in a display of masculine selfishness.

The hip-hop dancer Damaso Mendez adds a dash of circus to this wonderfully conceived and precisely choreographed visual kaleidoscopic of love scenes. Or more accurately: into a series of images dealing with lovers and beloved from whom Genazino says that they are never bored when they are together because they speak about themselves constantly. The bit about “never being bored” is something the director Körte has taken very seriously.

Hans Riebsamen, FAZ, 21.3.2006, no. 68

The Dance of the Phone Directory

There it is, just dancing away by itself, the poor, small phone directory. Only Wilhelm Genazino is capable of conveying an impulse that arouses pity for a phone directory lying on the street, wet and getting wetter. And perhaps it is only the “Ensemble 9 November” that can animate such a forlorn phone directory to dance. Raija Siikavirta, the phone directory, dances like an exhausted Tchaikovsky swan. Martin Lejeune, the musician and composer, sends over a few drops of Swan Lake from the edge of the stage.

The Homelessness of the Fishes is a novel by Genazino, later to be awarded with the Georg Büchner Prize, published in 1994 (12 years ago in the meantime!). The novel serves the troupe under the guidance of director Helen Körte and the artist Wilfried Fiebig as the basis for a loosely linked kaleidoscope of imagined scenes about lovers. Genazino’s work (as expected for this author) deals with love, a love that is dissected into its details in Frankfurt’s Gallus Theatre: how it begins, what it’s like, how it ends. Christian Lehmann-Carrasco and Fernando Fernandez – fitted by Fiebig with gigantic plastic ram horn objects – come across one another in the metro. And as befitting rams, they fight to gain the favor of the beauty, prodding each other with their horns.

Katrin Schyns and the hip-hop dancer Damaso Mendez (a “special guest”) come closer to one another in anatomically improbable movements. This is the image of the grasshoppers’ love. Grotesque Rococo beaus and ladies in hoop skirt frames – and they all have extended fork-arms – murmur words to one another from the Song of Love.

And so it moves on from one fantasy to the next, and now and then a flash comes and with it fooling nonsense (says Raija Siikavirta herself, and she also says: “I’m childish for about an hour a day”). Not everything is understandable, but one does sense why it has to be so odd. “Every passion leads us astray and we make mistakes, but love to the most ridiculous ones,” announce the fish and cock heads and their lady friends in plumes. The three musicians – sitting next to Lejeune (guitar and other instruments) are Jens Hunstein (sax and other instruments) and Timo Neumann (percussion) – provide the accompanying bellowing, rustling, the love rap, the small quotes, and not least wonderful light music.

In April the Ensemble 9 November will travel to Krakow to give a guest performance of their new drama. A theatre piece so replete with images and masks fits perfectly to the Eastern European theatre tradition. (…) This performance shouldn’t be missed between the striking charades.

Judith von Sternberg, Frankfurter Rundschau, 18.3.2006

A Sandworm Goes for a Walk

Thin walls of fabric falling from the ceiling tracks form the spaces where the quicksilver events take place and the figures in their bizarre customs recite their aphoristically pointed sayings. They open the stage space, lend it an edgy geometry, fall away in curves, or form a castle of fabric columns; depending on the lighting and dramatic need they shimmer or shut off. Often they convey lightness, now and then gravity (stage, objects: Wilfried Fiebig).

The answer to what’s going on here is given formally and aesthetically by the flâneur prose of the Büchner Prize winner Wilhelm Genazino. Körte’s performers combine in their flowing dance movements a poetic sauntering through a cityscape with strong visual details revolving around the basic theme of love. (…) Raija Siikavirta as a chimera dressed in a ballerina skirt exclaiming nonsense verses and as a phone directory, Katrin Schyns as a “grasshopper” in blue, the strolling observer Christian Lehmann-Carrasco and his counterpart ram Fernando Fernandez – they all flit and drift about, touch on situations, recite the Song of Love, or celebrate their own dissolution. Do the fish and bird in grotesque masks become sandworms in the projected sea of a fish market that gives the “homeless” a home? Does the stage become an aquarium? It gurgles.

The swaying, clown-like vocabulary of the movements, featuring break dance elements (Damaso Mendez), the electrified jazz, ranging from the willingly scurrile to fusion, of Martin Lejeune, who scatters across the stage in trio with a mandolin, as well as Körte’s restless directions: they all are entertainingly rampant with the aesthetic formula of the Ensemble 9 November (E9N). And astoundingly they do not lose the wonderful balance out of rhythm, emblematic polyphony, and cultivated taste, this characteristic intellectuality of the E9N. (…) Worth seeing!

Marcus Hladek, Neue Presse, Frankfurt

Surrealist Cabaret

The “musical-theatrical city ballad” begins with aphoristic (graffiti) sayings. The rapid criss-crossing between the actors Katrin Schyns, Raija Siikavirta, Fernando Fernandez, and Christian Lehmann-Carrasco is whipped forward by a jazz trio that, under the direction of the guitarist Martin Lejeune, plays with great verve.

The series of visual settings is initially driven by a forceful rhythm, ensuring that everything moves along entertainingly. The break dancer Damaso Mendez, performing as a special guest, accelerates proceedings further with his rapid moves. At this point the audience is treated to grooving James Brown funk riffs on a banjo, probably a world premiere. Overall the atmospherically charged music of Martin Lejeune, performed together with the multi-talented horn player Jens Hunstein and the percussionist Timo Neumann, is a mainstay of the evening. The musicians are extremely agile, quoting an astounding array of melodies and styles.

Love – troublesome – is one of the main motives in The Homelessness of Fish. At the sight of the intimate idyll shared by two lovers the observer feels reminded of grasshoppers. The figures, dressed by Margarete Berghoff in costumes in the style of fantastic Modernism and fitted with objects out of transparent plastics by the set designer Wilfried Fiebig, are reminiscent of dream figures taken directly from a Surrealist cabaret. At one point the narrator feels himself metamorphosing into a Mongolian ram. The horns, over-dimensional plastic spirals, are grotesque, like so much shown on this evening. In the final visual settings, as things move on to the creatures featured in the title, lying in a fish shop, the tempo is taken out of the action, fitting more into the languid steps of a flâneur.

The play impresses thanks to a refreshing lightness that does not however conceal the melancholy of the original.

Stefan Michalzik, Offenbach-Post, Monday 20 March 2006



Programm [1.16MB]
e9n-kind_und_kunst [180KB]


  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 762KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi, 286KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 104KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 1.53MB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 379KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 345KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 840KB]

  JPEG [RGB 300dpi 293KB]

Press Echo on Why the Child is Boiling in the Polenta, a dramatization by Helen Körte of the novel of the same name by Aglaja Veteranyi

Polenta from Frankfurt in Europe’s Capital of Culture

The Ensemble 9 November gives a guest performance in faraway Hermannstadt

Polenta a la Frankfurt in Romania: the Frankfurt troupe “Ensemble 9 November” represented the Main metropolis at the International Theatre Festival held in Sibiu/Hermannstadt with the drama Why the Child is Boiling in the Polenta, based on an autobiographically-inspired novel of the same name by the Romanian author Aglaja Veteranyi. The three actors, (from left) Katrin Schyns, Hanna Linde, and Raija Siikavirta, gave a virtuous performance. The Romanian critics were greatly impressed by both the piece and its staging.

A Scared Child: When Will Mother Plummet from the Circus Canopy?

Upon the four musicians, under the guidance of Martin Lejeune, winner of the Frankfurt City Jazz Award in 2003, striking up their instruments, the world of grey adversity vanishes promptly with the very first bars: a colorful circus canopy opens up, the Three Graces sit on trapezes, and the story of the child left to simmer in the polenta unfolds. Text, acting, choreography, trapeze, music, songs, film, and art objects: exploiting all of these artistic means is a specialty mastered by Körte and Fiebig. The locals are in awe. Such a colorful, multidimensional, but nonetheless precisely wrought production has only rarely been glimpsed in the Festival’s twelve year history, and with rapturous applause they show their appreciation for the two hour performance given by the “Ensemble 9 November”.

Helen Körte: freelance theatre director in Frankfurt for almost two decades.
Wilfried Fiebig: doctor of philosophy and born artist.

Hans Riebsamen, FAZ, 31.5.05

Bizarre Circus World, Frankfurt Ensemble plays Aglaja Veteranyi

It all appears to be a merry world in which the young heroine lives. She plays with colorful silk scarves – the blue one is her sea – with giant shoes and draws. She somersaults, swings on the trapeze, and dances through the circus tent. A world in continuous flux that somehow remains the same. Because it is always made up of the same elements in each country the circus family performs in, only the form varies, no new elements are added. Why the Child is Boiling in the Polenta is the title of the debut novel by the Romanian author and actress Aglaja Veteranyi. Born in 1962 into a circus family, Aglaja narrates her life story in an astounding language, on the surface with the simple vocabulary of a child but occasionally strange and full of feeling, surreal and unerringly precise, in this way, someone who is still carrying around the emotional chaos of a tumultuous childhood inside her. The stage version played by the Frankfurt Ensemble 9 November last Friday in the Trade Union Culture Center retained this powerful language. The director Helen Körte has dramatized the novel for the stage, remaining very close to the original text. The drama lives from the language of Veteranyi’s work, which literally paints unusual perspectives of people, experiences and feelings in the minds of the readers – here the listening audience. Körte has not simply staged a biography; her dramatized version is a total work of art, colorful and replete with a variety of forms. The scenes of this artwork – charged with symbols, gestures and geometric figures – weave a magic that seems to stem from a bizarre and weirdly intensive dream, a dream one may have after watching a circus performance. One original idea is to present the world of the young protagonist both simply and profoundly through numerous movable stairs which in every scene the mute actor Mikael Horstmann concertinas into a variety of sculptural figures like the hand of fate. A powerful symbol: the world of the young circus artist moves incessantly but consists of the same elements, traveling from one place to another, staying in one of the many “foreign countries,” longing for home, the ever-present fear for her mother, who hangs from the circus dome by her hair. (…) The abstracting symbolic in the scenery and action accentuates the narrative while never becoming concrete, and so translates what’s being told onto a level between occurring reality and its echoing remembrance. One wants to laugh about what was, but then holds back – because things were as they were, a silent horror in a loud circus world. Three actors carry the narrative, besides Hanna Linde, Raija Siikavirta (Aglaja) and Katrin Schyns (mother). Schyns adds an authentic Romanian element to the play by singing pieces by Maria Tanase, accompanied by Michael Lejeune’s orchestra. Without seeking to imitate the Romanian singer, she comes very close to her role model in intonation and expression. Nonetheless, one was apprehensive if this would be well received in Romania. “I had the feeling that Romania ‘owned’ Tanase. But our performer sung with a genuineness that went down well here,” explained Körte after the performance. The standing ovations proved this in any case: the German stage version was greatly appreciated in the native country of the writer Veteranyi.

Anna Galon
Hermannstädter Zeitung, no. 1931/3 June 2005