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1 9 Monologue

2021-23, Performance monologue

The personal experience of being a body home to pathogens flows into this autobiographical performance text while building a bridge between precise self-observation and a global, historical and literary outside. While many in Europe consider it long since eradicated, it still presents one of the deadliest infectious diseases worldwide. In the Romantic period, it was the epitome of muse and poetry and a popular motif in painting, literature and music. As the "firstborn of the mother of pestilence and disease," it has accompanied the primate human through the eras since time immemorial. Today it is a curable disease, yet more than 1.5 million people worldwide fall victim to it every year*. Its social perception has changed fundamentally throughout the epochs: from the glorified malaise of the romantic Bohemian poets through the painful proletarian death during the industrial revolution to the antisocial illness of the lepers during National Socialism. Today it is considered the disease of the marginalized, the dependent and the destitute, hardly noticed by the common public. The talk is about tuberculosis. 


* WHO World Health Organization Fact Sheet (as of October 2021)

A daring and quite unique piece of dance-cum-performance art opened my eyes to a new way of looking at tuberculosis. ... All of us underwent a complete shift in our attitude towards TB, which is really a remarkable thing for a 70-minute performance art piece to accomplish. Bravo!


1 9 Monologue offers unescapable concreteness and a radical subjectivation, which is declared valuable. Through densely conveyed personal experience, Stenke draws our radical connection to nature, death, forces we cannot control, and the enigmas of our origins. Because literature is this: condensed experience. 

Andreas Liebmann, author and director


A monologue that overflows from exquisite thought images vacillating between pain and amazement, philosophy and feeling, intelligence and the will to understand, emotional wisdom and helpless observation. A reliving of a summer in which everything was on a razor-edge, a life-threatening moment, or even a moment that ultimately questions life or the right to live.

Stephan Knies, dramaturge


A text that gains its great strength by combining the accuracy of introspection with a position from outside, oscillating between poetry and prose, poem and report.

Dr Ralf Peters, philosopher

A text that wants to and needs to be close.

A piece to let yourself be caressed by when life once again turns too concrete. 

Marcel Sparmann, artist

VestAndPage, Verena Stenke, Thanatos, Hypnos, Skull, Face, Shaved head, Woman



Consumption remains a 'social disease'; it has become a 'disease of the marginalized'. This makes it rather unlikely that consumption will once again become a literary or artistic subject.

–Ulrike Moser, In: Schwindsucht – Eine andere deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings… it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature. ... But no; with a few exceptions ... literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear.

– Virginia Woolf, In: “On Being Ill", Selected Essays, 1926

A VestAndPage production 2021-23

Soundscape: Zauberberg by Kassel Jaeger / Stephan Mathieu / Akira Rabelais and Mauro Sambo

Research funded by Fonds Darstellende Künste / #TakeCare with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

Research support by the German Tuberculosis Archive Heidelberg

Presented at

Endecameron | Incubatio, Castle of Rocca Sinibalda (IT), August 7, 2021

Strangelove Festival, Quarterhouse, Folkestone (UK), September 17, 2021

Innocult Fest, MEET Digital Cultural Centre, Milan (IT), April 8, 2022

OPEAN Festival, MUG Einstein Kultur, Munich (DE), June 25, 2022

RiAP 2022, Le Lieu Centre d'Art Actuel, Quebec City (CA), August 28, 2022

T*Danse Festival, Cittadella dei Giovanni, Aosta (IT), May 5, 2023

STORIES Festival, Mazovian Museum, Plock (PL), July 22, 2023

The Place, London (UK), September 30, 2023

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