Saturday, March 2, 2013

Independent Theatre in Berlin

I recently went to a cool little theatre event at the English Theatre in Berlin. (This was only the second time that I have been there. The first time, one of our friends was in a play about the woman who had discovered the double helix structure, Rosalind Franklin.) They're having a festival of theatre in which everyday for two or so weeks, they put on a different set of shows. The festival ends this week, so I decided to organize a little group to go on Thursday night to check out a series of short plays.

The lineup had about 10 or so acts, and I had thought that we would arrive at 8pm and then sit through 10 very short plays. Not so! When you arrive, you get randomly assigned a colored ticket, whose itinerary has already been pre-determined for the most part. Because they have a variety of things going on and the theatre is small, they had to be creative about how they used the space, and plays were going on simultaneously in all parts of the facility.  Everyone started off watching a play in the main theatre space, about a woman who had gone crazy. And then after that they sent us off in all directions.

Actually, our friends group got further split up into two smaller groups (they numbered us off, 1, 2, 1, 2...), at which point my friend Elsa and I went together to see a modern version of Joan of Arc. The J of A play we saw was very interesting and it was a two-part play, each part occurring inside a small office space in the back of the theatre. When we sat with "Joan" in her office, we could only hear her side of the phone conversation, and then when we went to the other room afterwards to see the other half of the play, we got to see the other personalities (the two counselors who were putting Joan on trial), in their office. It was really interesting, and we really liked it.

Our other friends, however, weren't so lucky. They were sent off to see a play about child molestation. (Yikes.) So, we decided to leave at 10:30pm, when they said that Elsa and I needed now to switch with Max and Mateja's group.

But, anyhow, the format was really interesting and unique. I really liked it, and thought that was very Berlin!


Recently I went to another theatre event with these guys. It was also on a Thursday night, I think, and it was called Haus Theatre. As the name suggests, we showed up and it was someone's house! The play took place in a living room, and that (regular-sized) living room had a natural sort of stage layout. All 30 or so audience members sat in rows on one side of the living room, and the actors were on the other side, using an archway connecting to the adjacent room as a way to enter and leave the stage. That play was about friendships, and it was pretty good -- intense but still quite funny at the same time, with a lot of comic relief. The three actors each had a big role, and although they were non-native English speakers (I think they were Spanish, German, and Italian), they were able to interpret those roles brilliantly! The story was about what happens when you feel that your friend has made a mistake (by spending 50,000 Euros to buy a painting that looks just... like a white canvas). Super interesting as the story unfolded and you saw all these opinions they had always had about one another. Afterwards, you could just hang out and mingle with the actors, which was the whole idea. They said that this was the first in a series they planned to do, but they would always look at the space first and then choose a play that fits that space.

Berlin is great!! I love this independent art scene. I'll definitely miss this city.

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