Blaiberg and sweetheart19

By Haug / Kaegi / Wetzel

A play about the search for the “right heart” in heart transplants and dating agencies and the continuation of life on the online platform Second Life.


How can the right heart be found? What do heart transplants and ‘speed-dating’ have in common? How can rejection be avoided?

Dozens of people in Switzerland die on the waiting list for heart transplants before a suitable, life-saving heart can be found for them. An artificial heart can help bridge the gap until transplant – a tiresome phase, in which the loudly pumping, external heart “shadows” the body, either worn around the neck or carried on wheels like a golf bag. Every few hours the artificial heart has to be plugged into the power point to be recharged. Then suddenly there’s snow and ice in the streets - organ donor weather! And with a little luck the sick heart is exchanged for somebody else’s. Then life begins all over again, a second life, in which the patient is preoccupied daily with keeping the body from rejecting the life-saving heart.

In 1967, white South African Philip Blaiberg became the first person to hold his own dead heart in his hand. In his body pumped the heart of Clive Haupt, a ‘coloured’, who at the time of the operation would not have been allowed to share a seat on a bus with him.

For “Blaiberg and sweetheart19” Rimini Protokoll do research in two social groups, among people living with a new heart on the one hand, on the other hand on the Internet: Over fifty percent of all Swiss singles look for a partner here, using names like "sweetheart19". More and more online dating services, portals and agencies are providing their services online. Chance obviously doesn’t always bring people the right sweetheart. The most successful German-language Internet dating agency has 500 registrations daily. An online survey establishes the personal supply-demand profile: eating habits, sportiness, political interests, emotional intelligence, love of animals ... the smallest details are evaluated in so-called match-points, which are then used to identify the ideal partner. Before a real person appears from behind the promising fantasy names, the other person is thoroughly checked per email. Some of the people in the ‘Blaiberg and sweetheart19’ ensemble have embarked on such a search for a new partner with the help of agencies or the Internet.

How is the surgeon’s eye trained to recognise the right one among all the other hearts? How can rejection be avoided here?

By: Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel

With: Renate Behr (perfusionist; operates the heart-lung machine in Triemli city hospital), Hansueli Bertschinger (professor emeritus of veterinary medicine, microbiologist; specialist in porcine diseases), Jeanne Epple (lawyer; arranges dental treatment and contact with women in Russia wanting to marry), Nick Ganz (organiser of singles events and speed dating evenings), Heidi Mettler (has lived with a new heart since 2001), Crista D. Weisshaupt (former Canton councillor with an organ donor card, is looking for a partner online)

Stage Design: Marlene Baldauf
Second Life Design: BuhBuhCuh Fairchild
Assistant Director: Almut Rembges
Dramaturgy: Imanuel Schipper
Production: Schauspielhaus Zürich
Co-production: Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin

Premiere: Zurich, Schiffbauhalle, 31st of March 2006