In June 1999, I had the incredible privilege of performing as an actor of the “Klick Theatre” in Heidelberg in the Brecht play “In the Jungle of Cities”. It was an exhilarating period filled with intensive rehearsals and preparations to grasp the essence of this demanding piece.

Standing on stage for twelve performances, embodying one of the central characters, was a challenge, but also an immensely rewarding experience. The audience was captivated by the spirited dialogues and the powerful staging.

It was particularly touching to learn that a contemporary of Brecht’s, the German poetess Hilde Domin, found the minimalist stage set-up to be incredibly authentic, “just as Berthold would have done it”. Being part of this performance was an unforgettable experience. The “Klick Theatre” truly showcased its artistic prowess with this production of “In the Jungle of Cities”.

Since 1985, The “Klick Theatre” Heidelberg has been dedicated to the sophisticated interpretation of provocative plays from the times of Bert Brecht. In Georg Kaiser’s “Klawitter”, I played the lead role of “Ernst Hoff”, and in Bert Brecht’s “In the Jungle of Cities”, I co-directed and played the sailor “Manky”.

Preface to “Jungle”, To the Gentleman in the Stalls

I imagine that you want to see something of life for your money. You want to get a view of the people of this century, mainly its phenomena, their measures against their fellow men, their exclamations in moments of danger, their views, and their jests. You want to partake in their rise, and you want to profit from their downfall. And naturally, you want some good sport. As people of this time, you have a need to exercise your combinatorial gift and are determined to let your organisational talent triumph in the face of life, as well as my depiction of it. This is why you were in for the play “Jungle”. I knew you wanted to sit calmly below and pass judgement on the world and to verify your knowledge of human nature by backing one or another of the people above. You were pleased that cold Chicago is so pleasant to look at, for it is certainly part of our plan that the world should be pleasant. You place importance on participating in certain senseless feelings of enthusiasm and discouragement, which contribute to the fun of life. All in all, my focus is on ensuring that in my theatre, your appetite is invigorated. Should I go so far as to make you want to smoke a cigar, and surpass myself by it going out at specific points I’ve planned for, both you and I will be satisfied. Which, after all, is always the main thing.

You find yourself in the year 1912 in the city of Chicago. You observe the inexplicable wrestling match between two individuals and you witness the downfall of a family that has come from the savannahs into the jungle of the great city. Don’t rack your brains about the motives of this battle; instead, invest in the human stakes, judge impartially the combat form of the opponents, and direct your interest to the finish.

Bertolt Brecht

Brecht’s Early Works


Brecht’s early works include plays such as “Baal”, “Drums in the Night”, and “In the Jungle of Cities”. Characteristic of this phase is the portrayal of a series of vagabonds and outsiders, in which Brecht marks his ambivalence towards bourgeois society. “Baal” tells the story of an immoderate man in every respect, (a character, in altered form, also found in several of Brecht’s later works), neither particularly comedic nor tragic in nature, but a being with the seriousness of all animals. In “In the Jungle of Cities”, Brecht is preoccupied with the idea of man’s infinite isolation, going so far that they can’t even come together as enemies, and a battle becomes an unattainable goal. The sentiments and moods underlying the play are also evident in Brecht’s self-portrait from around the same time.

Independent Theatre Days

Due to its great success, we performed the play again at the third Heidelberg Theatre Days on 3rd December 1999. We secured third place in the Heidelberg Theatre Prize competition.