Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui
Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui
© SLT / Tobias Witzgall


Bertolt Brecht

Premiere: 22. Februar 2025 / Landestheater


Brecht superbly draws a gangsters’ milieu that serves as a bleak mirror of political realities: The stock market crash has hit Chicago hard, people have less money to spend and one of the first things they stop buying is vegetables! The Cauliflower Trust is reeling – recently the world’s leading seller of vegetables, it is now facing bankruptcy. There must be a way out of the crisis. A certain Arturo Ui sees an opportunity to make a name for himself: He offers to whet the population’s appetite for cauliflower by threatening violence. Of course, the trust rejects the offer unanimously; they are hoping that the respected politician Dogsborough will help them get a loan from the city council. When Dogsborough declines, he becomes the target of a dark conspiracy.

This is the moment Arturo Ui has been waiting for: He knows how to use rhetorics and dramatisation to manipulate people and masses. As he perfects his demagogic skills, he decides that those who are not for him are against him and will feel the consequences. With ruthless atrocities, Arturo finally completes his rise to power.

In this play written in exile in 1941, Brecht discusses Hitler’s ascent until he seized power in 1938. The parable makes it clear that Fascism was no isolated incident in history; and that Ui’s rise could have been prevented in each of the seventeen scenes. On the surface, Brecht’s indifferent gangsters seem to be causing havoc in 1941 Chicago, but the references to German history are obvious. The most terrifying aspect of this play is Brecht’s conclusion, however: “This was the thing that nearly had us mastered; / Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men! / Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard, / The bitch that bore him is in heat again.”

Unfortunately, this is a warning which we must also keep in mind today.

“The great political criminals must be exposed and exposed especially to laughter. They are not great political criminals, but people who permitted great political crimes, which is something entirely different.” Bertolt Brecht’s (1898– 1956) statement aptly describes “Arturo Ui” – a parable about a sleazy man with great ambitions as well as a sober analysis of those whose opportunism enables his rise.

Alexandra Liedtke has staged many productions at the Salzburg State Theatre, both in the drama and music theatre divisions. The integration of musical and choreographic elements is typical of her directorial style. Philip Rubner and Su Bühler, who works as a costume designer for all the major theatres in Austria and Germany, will once more team up to design the stage and costumes, like they did for “Buddenbrooks”.