From Before Sunrise, based on the 19th-century play by Gerhart Hauptmann



The next morning. At the crack of dawn. Everyone’s asleep. The package is still standing there unopened. The daylight is flat and weak. But it will get stronger.

LOTH comes through the plastic sheet out of the addition. He looks around a bit, just out of personal interest, and finally goes to the patio door and looks out at the morning.

HOFFMANN comes downstairs in his underwear. LOTH doesn’t notice him and goes to the sink, fills a glass with water and drinks. HOFFMANN stands behind him and watches.




look at you

standing here in my kitchen

you just get up, Alfred?

good morning

you slept well, I hope

I’m just wondering where

don’t say anything!

I think I know



yes, morning, Thomas

up yours






no thanks

I’m off



I’ve heard that from you too many times since yesterday

for me to believe you

first you’re off, then you go, then you’re here again

is that how things are going to be permanently, Alfred?

should I adjust to that?

in the future?

to your continual return


presumably not

right now you’re off, right

sneaking out at dawn

we know what that means:

nothing serious

just one night

because suddenly the sun comes up and as so often happens the daylight makes the magic disappear

then you’re left standing there

you put your pants back on

look down at a sleeping woman and think to yourself:

if it wasn’t that certain body parts fit into each other

almost automatically

you wouldn’t know what it was that seemed so appealing

so nothing to do but leave

it’s not locked

the door’s open




the way you’re looking at me is the way you look at everything, isn’t it, Thomas?

am I right?

I came here – this is how you imagine it –

to poke around in the dirt

that doesn’t exist

so I could write about you

but then didn’t find anything interesting

but still

not without a fuck

that’s the least

then off I go again

screw it

I’ll take it with me on my way out

that’s how you see me


what’s up with that, Thomas?

tell me

is it a habit?

a reflex?

to assume the worst of others

but of yourself

of course


not at all



so then we’d have something in common

that’s the prerequisite for your job




you’re right of course

the “story” about you

I have what I need, Thomas

because, of course, I’ve asked around a little

talked with people here and there

made a few




I know


what do people say?



I’m sure you know it all already

the new production hall





it’s not even so new any more



apparently there were plans – very concrete ones

for an apartment building

strange – on the same site



I wasn’t politically involved back then

if you believe that

what can I say?

plans that are politically important sometimes fall through

that probably happened in that case too

except that doesn’t, of course, interest those who are envious




your father-in-law was on the council back then



you’re speculating



of course, Thomas



in any case, my dear Alfred, I’m really pleased

I must say


that finally at long last we’ve got things cleared up you really could have just said that yesterday, that you came to poke around, to nose around

as for being old friends

it’s just that, well, Alfred, because you haven’t just poked your nose into this family, but also poked your privates into a member of that family, I feel that in light of your ethics there is – it seems to me – sorry – a problem



you see, Thomas


wrong yet again

fuck the “story”

I couldn’t give a shit about that


I didn’t want to write about that at all

it really just fell into my lap

the people around here say too much

I told you already

the rift between us

what has – I don’t know – “poisoned” us

it’s not just the two of us

all of us


that is what I wanted to find

and I don’t know


what is going on?


we shared a room

by chance

a long time ago

that’s not a big thing

and now we’re living in two worlds

totally different

and with nothing in common

although we both

let’s admit it

we have to be honest here

at both ends of this spectrum

left and right

we’re both goddamn confused

all of us




we shouldn’t judge others based on ourselves –



oh stop it

it’s obvious



OK fine

so I know it

that confusion

so is that the end result?


of your self-questioning

and of your research

into – how flattering – into me?



you start from the lowest in people

and I, I still believe

I’d like to believe, in spite of all the evidence:

people are better than their reputation



like I said before: I call that my realism

reality keeps proving me right



no, only your way of describing reality



I don’t see any difference



people are what they can be

and not only what they are

we aren’t just empirical

let us be utopian

yes, fine with me

otherwise we’d remain, everything remains the same

if there can’t be a window that briefly and mostly unnoticed opens just a crack, so that for a moment the possibility exists –



that what?



that we become different

that we are different




but you don’t know ahead of time what might come in

when the window, when the door opens

there are also uninvited guests

and lots of them




I know that

that’s not what I’m talking about

how long, do you think, will we keep drifting apart, until we can no longer hear each other when we talk

I don’t mean acoustically

but who’m I saying this to

you’re the metaphor guy

I’m afraid of that silence

I came because I wanted to know if you also


so I’m going to leave

I think I need to take a shower

and thought maybe I shouldn’t do it here



feel free



I’ll come back later

so don’t be surprised

I’ll pick Helene up

we’re going to take a drive

in the country

it’s lovely around here

she tells me

if you drive a bit


see you later


Ewald Palmetshofer

Ewald Palmetshofer, born in Austria in 1978, is a widely produced playwright who has won major awards both for individual plays and for his body of work--fifteen plays since 2005. hamlet ist tot. keine schwerkraft premiered in Vienna in 2007 and was invited to the Mühlheimer Theatertage in 2008; in Neil Blackadder’s translation as hamlet is dead. no gravity it has been staged in Chicago and London. In 2015, Palmetshofer won the Mülheim Dramatists’ Award for die unverheiratete ("the unmarried woman"). Palmetshofer is currently dramaturg at the Residenztheater in Munich, where his latest play Die Verlorenen ("The Lost") premiered in October.

Neil Blackadder

Neil Blackadder translates drama and prose from German and French, specializing in contemporary theatre. Neil’s translations have been staged in New York, London, Chicago, and elsewhere, and widely published. Playwrights Neil has translated include Lukas Bärfuss, Rebekka Kricheldorf, Ferdinand Schmalz, Mishka Lavigne, and Thomas Arzt. For more information, please see

Copyright (c) S. Fischer Verlag, 2017. English translation copyright (c) Neil Blackadder, 2019.