Infinite Jest

A performance project based on the novel by David Foster Wallace

Matthias Lilienthal’s final project as general theatre director of the HAU in Berlin was a stage adaptation of the novel Infinite Jest, which premiered in summer 2012. Written by the American author David Foster Wallace, the novel offers a contemporary portrayal of the dreams of success and the neuroses of failure that plague a distressed society, one whose will to survive is weakened by deep bouts of depression and endless exhaustion. The text presents a society, burdened by the excessive demands it places on itself, and pushes its readers to the limit for its complexity. With a comprehensive view of an “exhausted society”, this hyper-realistic urban planning project transformed eight performance venues in Berlin into all-American East Coast scenarios on the Spree River for 24 hours. International artists affiliated with the HAU were asked to develop theatrical adaptations of various passages and places of narrative action. Undaunted by the excessively demanding effort awaiting them, the audience boarded busses, trams and boats to reach the various performance venues in and around Berlin. They were taken on a journey through the narrative web of the novel, confronted with a psychiatric clinic, Alcoholics Anonymous, wasteland, depressive front-yards scenes and Berlin’s urban utopias. Based on Wallace’s text, the project examined the reality of his vision in Germany. It confronted viewers with places where depression thrives and boredom runs rampant – in other words, where “social exhaustion” has settled in Berlin.

Artistic director: Matthias Lilienthal; Director: Toshiki Okada (JP), Artists: With: Bianchi/Macras, Gob Squad, Peter Kastenmüller, Jan Klata, Chris Kondek, Anna-Sophie Mahler, Richard Maxwell, Mariano Pensotti, Philippe Quesne, She She Pop, Jeremy Wade, Anna Viebrock and the animated video "My Best Thing" by Frances Stark


Hebbel am Ufer

Stresemannstraße 29

10963 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)