About “Purgatory In Ingolstadt”

In 1926, 25-year-old Marieluise Fleisser wrote a play about growing up in the stiflingly static Catholic society of Ingolstadt. Purgatory mixes murky metaphysics with the confining and narrow world-view of a group of students to exploit provincial and hypocritical ideologies.

The characters are stuck, unable to free themselves from the strictures of school and Church. The parents, teachers, and religious figures lack progressive vision and are ineffectual and abusive. Intolerance and philistinism fester in this closed society, where teenagers romp and lurk, hoping they aren’t designated as “outsider.”

When two characters—Roelle and Olga—try to move beyond and shift this closed society, they are attacked and humiliated by their friends. Ultimately, they are forced to reject each other on the playground. Ill-equipped to stand on her own, Olga remains in Ingolstadt, perpetually 4-months pregnant by her callous ex-boyfriend, and shamed. Unable to transform his image through his delusions of spiritual grandeur, Roelle embraces his role as a silent slave to the worst nature of humanity.

The play is layered and complex—with elements that seem incongruous. It boldly exploits religious fanaticism and questions the morality of experimentation in the name of science; characters arrive and depart without adhering to the logic of our world; and the children bully, spy, embrace and reject each other in rapid succession.

-Marina McClure

Director “Purgatory In Ingolstadt”