Who is Gregor Samsa in 2019?

Director Emily Louizou writes about what made her want to adapt Kafka’s classic tale



Franz Kafka wrote Metamorphosis in 1912 during challenging times in Europe. I have been wondering whether our societies have changed much since Kafka’s times. Have we really succeeded in building a world which is more tolerant, acceptant and inclusive? Through the parable of Gregor Samsa’s transformation, I felt the need to speak of the fragility of one’s identity and the need to be accepted – within the family unit – for that very identity. 

What happens when this family unit gets divided and instead of providing a child with confidence, they judge and reject him? And then, who can you be if your own family despises you?  

In Kafka’s parable a young man, Gregor, has emerged into a world which is horrified by his physical change. In 2019 still, human beings are being scorned and bullied if their identity (ethnic, religious, sexual, social, physical) does not correspond to the ‘normality.’ Our Metamorphosis aims to address one of the biggest human fears: feeling like an outsider – or rather, being made to feel different. Metamorphosis is a piece about being young and being made to feel disgusting; as someone who is not worth a chance. This is not a piece about a man turning into an insect. It is a piece about a family seeing their own child as vermin, and choosing to single him out. 

I have been wondering, how difficult it must for a young person to become a functioning member of this society if the only thing they experience within their domestic environment was silencing, abuse and rejection. This is Gregor Samsa’s story, but it is also the story of all the Gregors existing in our society today. 

Join our Kafkaesque world on the 27th June at HOME in Manchester and on the 29th June at the New Diorama in London!

Emily Louizou, April 2019