Are you sure what is right or wrong? Would you kill innocent people to save thousands of lifes? And if anyone does, is that illegal?
In Ferdinand von Schirach’s play “Terror” the audience has to ask all these questions. The main character Lars Koch is a military pilot, who shot down a passenger aircraft which was kidnapped by a terrorist. The plane would have flown into a fully seated football stadium, 70000 people would have been killed. He decided to victimize the 164 passengers of the plane to save 70000. An easy calculation? For sure not. During the play we watch the trial of Koch who is accused of the murder of the passengers. And after all witnesses made their statements, prosecution and defense made their plea we have to decide if he is guilty or not guilty.
Today was the 50th performance of “Terror” in its home theater, the Deutsches Theater Berlin. Since the premiere on the 3rd of October 2015 thousands of people had to take the decision over moral and right. The piece was adopted by many companies in different countries and most performances leaded to the same judgement – not guilty. You can check the results of the votings worldwide online and some of them are surprising. The only two countries where most votings leaded to the guilt of the defendant were China and Japan, although it was sometimes really close. If you count all votes in China there are 586 for guilty and 565 for not guilty, just a small number of 21 votes difference. In total 387552 people have taken the decision and 61,4% of them voted not guilty. It seems that it’s not easy to know what’s right, our moral depends and even appears kind of flexible.
Ferdinand von Schirach’s play was very successful not only many theaters adopted it, also a television movie was filmed. The movie premiered at the 12th October 2016 at a cinema in Munich and was shown at the 17th October 2016 on free-TV. Just as in the theater performance the spectators got the chance to decide how the movie should end, after an online and telephone voting the judgement manifesting and the final credits were shown with the same result – not guilty.
This play really grabs the audience, after so many performances it was still sold out. It forces everyone to overthink their moral and to think twice before judging or deciding. A thrilling and very contemporary form of theater that finds the gap between entertainment and education, definitely worth watching!
Picture taken by Rob Potter
Text by Verena