Boris Nikitin (CH)

Don‘t be Yourself (Sei nicht du selbst!)

From the series: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Part 2

68% theatre
21% community
Five actors reveal their lives on stage. They present themselves, exhibit themselves, open up their private lives, and share their selves with the community. They talk about their origins, their biographies and their motivation to become actors. They show how they call up different emotional states, how they enter into processes, and what it means to be someone else. As actors, they play themselves and not themselves on stage. Arriving at this point of absolute self-probing, their authenticity is imperceptibly revealed as a principle of covering up: credibility gives way to a potential fiction that is inherent in every reality. When are we credible? What do we know about ourselves? Who do we want to be?
“The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” This aphorism of the American philosopher John Dewey forms the basis for Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (1936), a classic of motivational literature. Carnegie observes that communication and community can only succeed by satisfying this need. By honestly being interested in others, listening carefully, and occasionally favouring them with a smile. Based upon this principle are various forms of communities, that are becoming increasingly important the faster traditional patterns of collective meaning dissolve into nothing.
“Be yourself” was the battle-cry of the nineties and noughties. The autonomous self was the goal and paradigm of a society craving individuality. Art and commerce alike based their role models for freedom and emancipation on the authentic human being. Meanwhile, a morning-after feeling is beginning to spread. Philosophers such as Robert Pfaller and Byung-Chul Han are again calling for a right to fiction: away from the compulsion of authenticity, more play, more covering up, more illusion. Don’t be yourself!
In “Bartleby oder Sicherheit ist ein Gefühl” at the Schauspielhaus in Graz, Swiss theatre-maker Boris Nikitin recently examined the resistance of the individual, and set out in search of God with the Mormon community at Theater Freiburg. His latest piece, a work commissioned by Schauspielhaus Graz and steirischer herbst, focuses on communal radicalisation in view of the paradigm shift. How can we become able to act? How can we make ourselves capable of making real decisions again?

Marginal Notes 2013 with Boris Nikitin
herbst remixed. Video impressions of the project.
Inspirations, challenges, contexts, background: a short interview with Boris Niktin about the process of working and researching on “Don't be yourself!”.

Concept and Direction Boris Nikitin
With Thomas Frank, Adrian Gillott, Lorenz Kabas, Katharina Klar & Julian Meding
Concept and Sound Matthias Meppelink
Setting Boris Nikitin & Katharina Trajceski
Dramaturgy Flori Gugger
Assistant Direction Kathrin Rosenberger
Dramaturgy Intern Daniel Hadler
Costume Design Intern Helene Gödl

Schauspielhaus Graz
Production Direction Albert Held
Technical Direction Christoph Steffen
Costume Design Direction Karin Gottschalk
Technical Direction Probebühne Konstantin Karastathis & Martin Battlogg
Sound Martin Arnold & Josef Schober
Make Up Dieter Schäffner
Head of Dressers Magreth Kahr
Costume Design and Decoration art & event Theaterservice Graz GmbH

steirischer herbst
Dramaturgy Kira Kirsch
Co-produced by steirischer herbst, Schauspielhaus Graz, Kaserne Basel & Ringlokschuppen Mülheim
Supported by means of Fachausschuss Theater und Tanz beider Basel

Dates and Facts


Sun 06/10, Mon 07/10 & Tue 08/10, 20.00

Probebühne Schauspielhaus Graz

16 / 8,5 €
Buy ticket

German language

Talk following the second performance

Further dates after the festival: