DIE WEISHEIT DES HERRN PARKINSON (THE WISDOM OF MR PARKINSON)
AND THE OLD BALLERINA, OR DEATH IS A VIOLIN SOLO MADE OF COTTON WOOL | A dramatic reading by Justus Neumann
Musical theatre | Performance | Play | 12+ | Adults
Back in the 1970s, Justus Neumann, 75, was one of the foremost actors on the Vienna stage. Well respected as both a comedic and a character actor, he played King Lear at the Schauspielhaus, and was widely regarded for his performances of Nestroy. However, his aim in life was not the Staatstheater, but to enjoy freedom. Neumann has lived on Bruny Island, off the south coast of Tasmania, since 1987. And just over a year ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Neumann decided to get close to his illness and to treat it as a friend and partner. In the first part of the evening, he describes his dealings with Parkinson’s. Neumann tells how the disease has enabled him to expand his imaginative horizons, how he has suddenly become able to admit creativity and impossibility into his life, and how, by doing so, he can counter his symptoms.
“Having Parkinson’s has given me permission to play like a child once more,” says Neumann. “I am no longer controlled by my environment, by my previous way of being. I can be myself. And what pleases me most of all is this: I am now comfortable with my fear, and can treat it as a friend.
I have given myself permission to walk in death’s footsteps.”
In the second part of the evening, he transfers the thought experiments from the previous section into a dramatic context, thereby giving them shape – and so the fascinating, overflowing chaos of earlier takes on a structure. An ageing ballerina realises in a dream that her life is no longer important, and that even death can be beautiful. An old man, Justus Neumann, reads this parable aloud – he sings it, he dances it, he acts it out. He lives it. In turn he becomes Mariechen (Molly), a flock of drunken sparrows in a bathtub full of egg liqueur, an ice cube in tears, a fly dying on a window board, Satan in all his rage, a rag doll with the voice of a shoehorn, an apricot that refuses to be picked, a crocodile freezing to death ….
“When we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal disease, when it comes to death, we all freeze”, says Justus Neumann. “Serious depression often follows, and our quality of life plummets. But is doesn’t have to be that way.
This piece of theatre is full of ways to escape our painful fates and bring fun to our farewells. I know it will uplift you, because it uplifts me, what I have achieved to date.
It should give many of us the strength to twist the skewer of life by one more turn, to trust in our own energies, and to affirm each day anew and with joy.”
Admission is strictly restricted to those with clean feet and fresh socks. Checks will be carried out.
This production has been made possible thanks in part to cultural support provided by the City of Vienna.
You can also support this project via the “We make it” crowdfunding platform, at the following address: JUSTUS NEUMANN’S Latest Project — Crowdfunding at wemakeit
On Thursday 5th October, the production will be followed by the launch of Justus Neumann’s new sound book, “Die alte Ballerina oder Das Sterben ist ein Geigensolo aus Watte (The Old Ballerina, or Death is a violin solo made of cotton wool)”, which he and composer Julius Schwing have brought out with publishers Mandelbaum Verlag.
(32 pages, sound book with one CD and a download code | ISBN: 978399136-036-0)
In addition, Tuesday 3rd October sees the publication of a book by Justus Neumann with photographs by Wolfgang Kalal. Entitled “Die schamlos wirksame Sinnlosigkeit des letzten Tages im Leben eines Herrn Ferdinand oder „Dir hätte ich glauben sollen“ (The unabashedly effective futility of the last day in the life of a certain Mr Ferdinand, or “I should have believed you”), it will be published by Ibera Verlag.
(64 pages, text and photographs | ISBN: 9-783-85052-416-2 | available to order from Ibera Verlag: firstname.lastname@example.org