a clockwork orange

– Aalborg Theatre, Denmark, 2009

“CLOCKWORK ORANGE” was based on the famous novel by Anthony Burgess. In the letter to the publisher I explain why I didn’t want to use the existing theatre play and the concept for the performance:
Anthony Burgess’ book “A Clockwork Orange” and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation from 1971 have become icons of the young man’s violent revolt against society. Written as a science fiction in 1962 one can easily say that the text now describes something that is close to the contemporary urban reality. But in the Scandinavian societies at least one fundamental element is different from Burgess’ vision; the repression of the young man does not come from a society characterized by military, fascist prison structures linked with corrupt politicians. The most important threat against young men’s violence-seeking masculinity is a feminist society that has banned all values represented by the man. This over -protected humanistic society leaves the young man alone with all his aggressive energy, – an energy that more primitive societies can make use of in wars, or to protect the family or to fight for food. In the Scandinavian societies where social conscience is the most important value we have no use of the young man as a man. We only need him as a well-integrated part of the society like a young woman or a child.

This is all a political statement of course. But it is the political statement we want to make with our devised production of “A Clockwork Orange”. The icon value of the book makes it the perfect material for a contemporary theatre production that focuses on the young man’s violent energy and the relation between this energy and the values of the society. The moral question that is asked in the book is if one can be good if one cannot choose between being good or bad. This question is just as relevant in a contemporary Scandinavian political and moral setting.

We believe theatre is something else than literature. Theatre is a complex here and now communication with the audience. We use words, actions and metaphoric spaces; we play with time and with image references. “A Clockwork Orange” is a science fiction text written in Britain in 1962. In 2008 in Denmark we cannot play the same words as if our society faces the same challenges as Britain in the 60-ties.

The only way to honor the significance of a work of art in time is to relate it to the contemporary questions and the aesthetics of the time in which you are presenting it to a new audience. In the 90-ties the German director Frank Castorf at “Volksbühne” in Berlin made a successful theatre production based on Anthony Burgess’ book. He used the specific aesthetics of the 90-ties and his personal deconstructed, playful dramaturgy. He made the text extremely alive for his contemporary audience.

In 2008, in Denmark, we are confronted with new problems, new perspectives, and new approaches to make a theatre production of “A Clockwork Orange” are needed. The book contains more material then the existing screenplay from 1990 and it is therefore easier for us to find material in the book that is relevant for our society, our time and our production. The screenplay from 1990 is a specific adaptation of the book limiting the aesthetics and the dramaturgical structure of a theatre production. We do not want to put up an existing theatre play. We want to create a dramaturgical structure based on the book with its own aesthetics that makes the book and the fundamental problems in the book comprehensible for a contemporary Danish audience.