Offending Peymann - a Training

By Helgard Haug / Daniel Wetzel

30 years have passed and everywhere the files are being opened once again: Buback, Schleyer and Klein and the 4 lever arch files full of documents on the fuss surrounding the ‘Zahnspendenaffäre’ – the dental donations affair.

Ilse Ensslin, mother of Gudrun, convinced a “brave” dentist to go into the JVA Stammheim (Stammheim prison) and fix the imprisoned Red Army Faction members’ rotting teeth. “The State pays only for so-called conservative treatment and only one third of the cost of that”, so dentists fees of 10,000 DM were incurred. After most of the prisoners’ relatives had donated money, there remained “an outstanding amount of 4,500 DM”. Frau Ensslin asked 65 famous people, including the director of the Stuttgart Schauspielhaus, Claus Peymann, for one-off donations. He donated about 100 DM and had Frau Ensslin’s appeal for donations hung on the whiteboard for in-house announcements, adding the note: “Those wishing to donate can give the money to Frau Noack! C.P.” Some months later, after the murder of Jürgen Ponto and the kidnapping of Hanns Martin Schleyer, secretary Noack and the other members of the theatre management were completely engrossed in reading. Several newspapers started a disinformation campaign at the start of the season in autumn 1977. Peymann was said to have collected 10,000 DM “for Gudrun Ensslin”. At the same time, a gun was said to be have been taken from the theatre’s props with the complicity of the ‘sympathiser’, to be used later in the attack on the German Embassy in Stockholm. A play by Ulrike Meinhof was said to have been almost included in the state theatre’s repertoire...
Hundreds of citizens sent letters, cards and telegrams on their own initiative, holding Peymann to account.
How much do you want to know before you cross over into hatred, expletives and violent language, to cynicism and rabble-rousing? How much liberal democracy and faith in the rule of law resonates in the voices of respectable citizens after they’ve read a couple of hoaxes in newspapers like BILD and QUICK? Whose dramaturgy determined the course of the affair? How was the citizenry’s uncertainty and heatedness taken advantage of to implement ‘real political decisions’? “Offending Peymann” turns the written mud that was slung at Peymann and preserved by the State Archive Baden-Württemberg into a "staged reading". At the same time we are witnessing an experiment, because Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel place the stage, which they don’t need for the texts, at the disposal of the Stammheim Sport Club. This way, one general desire, the desire to work things out, is juxtaposed with another form of workout recreational exercise, in real life, in 1977 as in 2007, a couple of hundred metres as the crow flies from the Stammheim prison in the same street: Solitude Allee.

By: Helgard Haug, Daniel Wetzel
With: members of the Stammheim Sport Club and employees of the Staatstheater Stuttgart
Premiere: Schauspiel Stuttgart, “Endstation Stammheim” Festival, 22nd of September 2007