Impressed by the Industrial Revolution and the rapid development of the natural sciences, Émile Zola, born in Paris in 1840, composed a 20-volume cycle of novels "Les Rougon-Macquart" detailing the fate of one fictional family; some of them bastards, some legitimate. Zola allows his characters to become murderers and adulterers, business magnates and revolutionaries. Is there nothing more than "the survival of the fittest"? Can mankind ever become "better"? Or are all attempts to make his life more valuable doomed to failure from the start? This cycle of novels provides the material for a theatre trilogy lasting three years, whose autonomous parts will each premiere at the Ruhrtriennale.
In the first part of the trilogy, "LIEBE (LOVE)", the central character is the doctor Pascal. He develops a theory of human progress based on his study and documentation of his own family tree. He is also researching for a new medication which will inhibit all disease and restore the patient's youth. Pascal tells the story of Gervaise, a bastard of the family with a limp, who tries to save herself from the worst of fates, along with her sons Jacques and Etienne, her pretty daughter Nana and her various husbands and lovers, by working was a washerwoman.