Monocle, A Portrait of S. von Harden

© Compagnie Ghislain Roussel
© Compagnie Ghislain Roussel

Compagnie Ghislain Roussel

Sylvia von Harden: "So you want to paint my unsparkling eyes, my flourish-laden nose, my thin
lips, my long hands, my spindly legs, and my big feet which frighten everyone and delight no

Otto Dix: "You have perfectly characterized yourself, and all that put together will provide a
portrait of an era, where what is important is no longer a woman’s beauty but rather her
psychological emanation."

"Monocle, A Portrait of S. von Harden" takes as inspiration the celebrated "Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden" painted by the German artist Otto Dix in 1926 (today in the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris). The "scandalous" androgyny of its subject, the cold, distant observation typical of the Neue Sachlichkeit, and Dix’s technical approach make this a fascinating work, one that marked the arrival of the "new" or "modern" woman, who is characterized by her boyish crop, her monocle and, of course, her smouldering cigarette. Based on historical accounts, the script imagines Sylvia von Harden during the sitting, and takes the form of a strange monologue that immerses the audience in the famous journalist’s private world. Using the effect of German-to-French surtitles (or German to any other language), in reference to the silent screen, the staging plays on the boundaries between easel painting, tableaux vivants, and spoken theatre. Set in the period that gave birth to the Third Reich, the piece evokes, through the character’s implosion, the tension that marked those troubled and terrifying years.

A virtuoso performance, "Monocle, A Portrait of Sylvia von Harden" plunges into the mind and
body of a German icon of the 1920s, as well as into interwar Berlin and the strange work of Otto


Script and direction Stéphane Ghislain Roussel
Sylvia von Harden Luc Schiltz
Music and conducting Viktor Ilieff
Costumes Xavier Ronze Make-up Sandrine Roman
Musicians (recorded music) Julie Läderach (cello),
Amaëlle Broussard (saxophone),
Yoshiko Tominaga (piano), India Song – Jeanne Moreau
Translation Sven Christian Siegmund

Production Compagnie Ghislain Roussel


Length 60 minutes
Availability upon request
Language In German with French (or any other language)

Touring Team
1 Director
1 Actor
1 Assistant
(1 stage manager if none can be organised by
the hosting theatre)

Further information

Compagnie Ghislain Roussel (Luxembourg and Germany)
Stéphane Ghislain Roussel