Undoubtedly, one of Schlingensief’s most ambitious and audacious artistic flirtations with Teuton-flavored fascism was his play Hamlet: This is Your Family—Nazi Line (2001); a feverish and frantic freeform reworking of the Shakespeare classic starring a cast of real-life Swiss ex-nazis that was inspired by the director’s belief that nazi-free, ‘neutral’ Switzerland was on the verge of adopting postmodern fascism à la the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP). Simultaneously a play, media frenzy, and active political action campaign, Schlingensief predictably caused an uproar in Switzerland, which was captured via the director’s bloated buddy Peter Kern (who plays King Claudius in the play) via the documentary Hamlet: This is Your Family (2001). Utilizing the ‘Nazi Line’ protocol, which included SS-esque uniforms (one being donned by Schlingensief himself) and holding heated press conferences, the political program sought the objective: “Right wing extremists / neo-Nazis should experience economical and social warmth and support in order to be integrated into our society. additionally NAZI~LINE invests into psychological and medical treatment of neo-Nazis. International Corporations as well as neo-Nazis and hate criminals are kindly asked to participate.” Needless to say Hamlet: This is Your Family is just another example as to why Christoph Schlingensief – not unlike the character Hamlet – was the Fatherland’s last great 'enfant terrible.'
During the beginning of Hamlet: This is Your Family, Schlingensief – wearing a specially tailored Nazi Line SS officer uniform – makes it quite clear that he does not plan to play nice with the Swiss when he states at the beginning of a show, “Who financed your theatre? Jews who fled our…my country. Because they had to. You lined your pockets with Jewish money. You invested it in culture. That’s the truth.” Indeed, the director may have been a tad bit hard on the bombastic Swiss bourgeois, but he found a special place in his heart for brutish bootboys who used to sail the swastika. Dressed in full skinhead regalia, the carbon-copy commandos barbarically beat and sodomize effete actors on stage and sing punk rock skinhead anthems in a manner that would make most viewers doubt the authenticity of their political conversion. The lead ex-nazi Torsten Lemmer – a towering chap who sports a leather trenchcoat and slicked back hair – seems like a rather reasonable guy with surely sound intentions, but that does nothing to stop other members of Schlingensief’s production from treating him and his ex-Hitlerite comrades like they ran a gas chamber at Auschwitz, thereupon bringing doubt as to whether ex-neo-nazis can ever lead a normal life after ‘reintegrating’ into society. In fact, the prop-man for Hamlet: This is Your Family – a culturally-diversified degenerate with large African plates in his ears and aesthetically-repellent full-sleeves of tribal tattooes – adamantly refuses to “furnish props for the Nazis in this play” as if he is at risk for contracting some sort of obscure venereal disease by doing so. To the petty prop-man’s credit, one of the ex-nazi chicks claim that leader Lemmer is still a neo-nazi and that his alleged disavowing of his past is merely a ploy for him to become mayor of Düsseldorf, which probably had some to truth it as it was later revealed that he continued to work for a far-right record label from 2002-2006, despite marrying a Moroccan mud and converting to Islam in 2002. Regardless, in Hamlet: This is Your Family Lemmer and his ex-brownshirts pay tribute to poet/playright Bertolt Brecht – the Marxist race-traitor who committed racial treason by marrying multiple Jewesses – by taking a pilgrimage to his Berlin grave. Ultimately, I get the impression that Lemmer is merely a social misfit with no strong ideals aside from the desire to shock, provoke, and opportunistically attempt to gain political power because when Peter Kern asked him who he would have been during the Third Reich, he unhesitatingly states, “A resistance fighter, no doubt. I always oppose the establishment.” Aside from eccentric ex-nazis, Hamlet: This is Your Family also has the notable distinction of featuring Fassbinder Superstar Irm Hermann (in the play as Queen Gertrude), who has no inhibition about going topless despite being nearly 60-years-old at the time of filming. For the play, Schlingensief, also paid posthumous tribute to his spiritual father Rainer Werner Fassbinder for what would have been his 53rd birthday and to Hermann for her 500th performance. Naturally, Hamlet: This is Your Family – with its Germanization of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and tribute to Brecht and Fassbinder – is an Anglophile's worst nightmare.
Ultimately, in terms of a ‘social change’ experiment, Hamlet: This is Your Family seems to have been, at the very least, a partial failure, but as an active multi-media event and performance art play, Schlingensief was ultimately successful, at least in the context of creating something new, refreshing, and particularly provocative, which was in large part due to the filmmaker-turned-playright’s almost fascistic fanaticism, thereupon becoming the thing he loves to hate in the process, but to a more patently preposterous and innately ironic degree. Hamlet: This is Your Family would also act as a continuation of his work with his previous unclassifiable active art project Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container, albeit this time more focusing on the terribly timid la-di-da bourgeois by belligerently and bluntly bombarding their natural habitat of the theatre, henceforth dropping political and artistic vulgarity into their lap via sardonically subverted reconstruction of Shakespeare where skinheads beat and bugger physically frail types that resemble the audience members themselves. Naturally, Schlingensief responded to certain audience attendees abruptly leaving the play by yelling to them, “you don’t deserve theatre. You don’t deserve culture. No more supper and no more culture. That’s it…go to bed. Sleep til you’re dead. That won’t be long.” And indeed, these passive spectators aka cultural parasites – individuals who are afraid to experience any new art or anything that isn’t already regard as a ‘classic’ because it takes them out of their well cultivated comfort zone – most certainly exhibit a sense of fear when confronted with Schlingensief’s agile art without boundaries. As his friend/collaborator Elfriede Jelinek –an Austrian author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002 – stated of Schlingensief shortly after his death: "Schlingensief was one of the greatest artists who ever lived...He was not really a stage director (in spite of Bayreuth and Parsifal), he was everything: he was the artist as such. He has coined a new genre that has been removed from each classification. There will be nobody like him." Not unlike Hamlet, Schlingensief – who the theme of family (both literal and figurative) played an integral part of his oeuvre – died after decades of battling his family and defending his father(land) via his art without bounds and ideas without ideology while both enduring cleverly fabricated and detectably debilitating forms of madness.