By Helgard Haug / Stefan Kaegi / Daniel Wetzel

A play about death – not about bloodthirsty tyrants and jealous lovers, but about the average Central European death.


Being mortal: Haug / Kaegi / Wetzel return after Shooting Bourbaki (honoured with the Impulse –Prize 2002) to the Neue Cinema to grill an old theatre professional: Death. However, deadline doesn’t deal with blood-thirsty tyrants, jealous lovers, stabbed martyrs, but with the average, middle-European death: the scandalous unspectacular departing, passing-away, deceasing. The slowly dying and its organisation: Pre- and post mortem. 97 % of all Germans don’t die on battle fields, but usually in a bed. They don’t say their last words, but loose their speech bit by bit. Death is the only certainty of life, yet He is stubbornly placed outside of the door. If he does enter, the relatives are usually are stretched too far, and they delegate the matter to institutions whose existence is based on finding a way to remove the ‘matter’ from the earth.

The development of medicine runs parallel to the calculation of death in the 20th century. Death, to the enlightened society is not only a metaphysical threat but also an exit option. A switching off of machine and man – at the self-prescribed expiry date.

So what remains? Good business for discount-undertakers and coffin companies? More an more citizens of Hamburg try to find their final rest in Ohlsdorf. They defend themselves against cemetery-constraint ordered by the state by inventing together with ‘event-undertakers’ new rituals for an exit purposely designed. The mortal remains in an aluminium urn can be sent into earth’s orbit for 5.000 Euro. After a couple of million flight kilometres the capsule burns up in the atmosphere.

Waiting and your last will meets minute architecture of cemeteries which represent life after death. This is guaranteed by detailed grave contract which regulates the order far for than any camping agreement. Who wants to be disturbed in their final rest

There is no special’s blood and no choking in deadline, the eyes remain open. deadline presents much more a revision of the world-wide version which is shown in its millions by the means of film, radio and picture, and lets the usual view of stage death run into an empty space. It is professionals in dealing with death who research and present death for Haug / Kaegi / Wetzel instead of showing a copy of it.

Experts report from personal and professional experiences: forensic doctors, crematorium employees, sculptors, psychiatric nurses, florists, clear-out companies, and cemetery musicians celebrate the line between the living and the dead. Dying versus stage death.

In deadline, the unrepeatable power of the moment of death stands in contrast to the repeatability of theatre which is so often celebrated in stage deaths - which sometimes turn out to be mere comic complications.

Concept / Directors/ Project Management / Props: Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel

With: Olaf Meyer-Sievers (creative consultant, funeral speaker, operating theatre photographer), Hilmar Gesse (stone mason, outdoor advertising), Hans-Dieter Ilgner (retired mayor, initiator of the Flamarium Braubach crematorium), Alida Schmidt (nurse, layer-out), Julia Seminova (funeral musician), Alfred Ruppert (head of ticketing at the Burgtheater casino, Pomp Funèbre; on stage at Burgtheater and Theatertreffen)
Lighting: Björn Salzer
Dramaturgy: Imanuel Schipper
Production: Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg (Neues Cinema)
Co-production: schauspielhannover, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Burgtheater Wien

Premiere: Hamburg, Neues Cinema, 24th of April 2003

Invited to Theatertreffen 2004, Berlin