Dialogues

theatertreffen

All the dialogues and critical discussions on Exeunt and other sites.

November 2017: A discussion with Leila Essa and Doriane Zerka about the European theatre festival Voila.

May 2017: Long Theatertreffen Dialogue with Lee Anderson in which we talk about 89/90, Three Easy Pieces und Die Borderline Prozession

January 2016: New Mourning
Exeunt contributors think about how the internet has changed our experience of collective, and individual, mourning.

December 2015: The Top 10 of 2015

July 2015: The Invisible by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
A Dialogue review with Legal Aid lawyer Jeinsen Lam

June 2015: #completeworks
Live-written responses to Forced Entertainment’s Table Top Shakespeare.

May 2015: The State by Alexander Manuiloff
A Dialogue review with Rebecca Jacobson for Theatertreffen Blog/ExBerliner

April 2015: Kaleider’s The Money
A Dialogue review with Catherine Love.

February 2015: Keep on Burning
In 2013 the Lyric Hammersmith created The Secret Theatre Company. This weekend marks its Grand Finale. To mark the occasion Exeunt’s writers look back at the shows, the critical reception to them, the highs, the lows and the legacy.

January 2015: Buried Treasures
Exeunt’s writers dig deep into Islands, Caroline Horton’s new – and divisive – show at the Bush Theatre.

December 2014: Exeunt’s Highlights of 2014
Exeunt writers pick their personal high-points of the past theatre year.

December 2014: Oh, Pomona!
Exeunt writers attempt to unpick why it is that the Orange Tree’s production of Alistair McDowall’s Pomona has got under everyone’s skin.

November 2014: Sense of An Ending
Closing moments and after-shocks: Exeunt’s writers discuss theatre’s most powerful and affecting final scenes.

October 2014: The World Mouse Plague Dialogue with Tim Bano

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Professor Bernhardi Schaubühne

bernhardi

When he turns away a Catholic priest from a delusional dying girl, esteemed director of a private clinic, the Jewish Professor Bernhardi staggers unwittingly into a political affair.

His selfish peers manipulate facts to whip up a scandal and play off latent anti-Semitic resentments. What begins as a small confrontation between two men culminates in the ruin of the doctor’s reputation.

While his cast of 16 shines, particularly in the production’s rare slapstick moments, Thomas Ostermeier’s overwhelmingly naturalistic direction of Schnitzler’s 1912 tragic comedy, feels like a dry autopsy of the scandal, albeit a timely one.

In a return to the Schaubühne ensemble, Jörg Hartmann – an audience favourite who plays a bedraggled detective in the long-running TV police drama, Tatort – plays the title role, meeting the political farce playing out around him with aloof smiles and amused exasperation. In contrast, there is little elegance to the self-serving antagonists with Sebastian Schwarz leading the pack as the slimy, nepotistic Ebenwald.

In dramaturg Florian Borchmeyer’s updated version, the self-important pompousness with which the schemers reassure themselves of their own authority is matched by clarity of plot. In many long conversations, staged on Jan Pappelbaum’s plain paper-white set, the piece explores how relying on common sense often fails as a strategy when it comes to shocking distortions of public discourse.

The overall static feel of the show is broken up by Katharina Ziemke’s painting. She scrawls on the sterile white walls of the set – complete with hand sanitiser – a metaphor for the messy processes that are at work in a post-truth society.

Originally published in The Stage.

Posted in Reviews, Theatre Tagged with:

Shadows Schaubühne Berlin

shadows

Eurydice (Jule Böwe) would prefer to stay in Hades instead of returning to her husband Orpheus (Renato Schuch), a wannabe-Morrissey who desperately needs her back to boast his own ego.

With Schatten (Eurydike sagt) – Shadow (Eurydice Speaks) – Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek continues to twist the cultural canon to tease out the misogyny that nestles all too comfortably in the stories we tell about tragic heroes and beautiful female trophies.

At Berlin’s Schaubühne Katie Mitchell directs this Greek myth as a slick road movie, complete with a revolving VW Beetle and zombie-eyed ferryman (Maik Solbach). After Mitchell’s recent foray into short films, working with writer Duncan MacMillan and cinematographer Chloe Thomson, she has enlisted Thomson to help create this ever-shifting film set for the stage.

In 2015’s Ophelias Zimmer, her previous collaboration with writer Alice Birch, Mitchell’s ‘live-cinema’ camera aesthetic refocused the story of a sidelined female character through a feminist lens. The aesthetics of Shadows obscure more than they reveal, however, and the production consequently lacks charm. It feels at times like the taping of a particularly ponderous TV drama.

Mitchell, in collaboration with Birch and dramaturg Nils Haarmann, sculpts a surprisingly literal narrative from the original swamp of a text. And while it is intriguing to watch how the shifting corridors and tunnels of Alex Eales’ netherworldly set add uncanny depth to that journey, it means that Böwe’s world-weary Eurydice remains trapped in a production that leaves the audience oddly untouched.

Originally published in The Stage.

Posted in Reviews, Theatre Tagged with: , ,

FCKSYSTMS

fcksystms

Eins. Within the system I am a white, non-British, heterosexual cis-female, writing about the potential of naked bodies to transgress discourse and ideology through queer performance. Before the show starts the projection of puzzle video games sets up a challenge. It’s a cocky ’riddle me this’.

They are preparing for something, stretching their limbs. Their clothes, no, everyone’s clothes are strewn across the floor. In the dark the young men dress and undress, themselves, each other, over and over again. They’re constantly moving, like charged-up Duracell Bunnies, but instead of a constant repetition of the same, their rhythm is uneven, craving to scoop something new from the flux. Nothing is of consequence. They wrestle with one another, fall to the floor, scraping their knees. Run into concrete walls at full speed with no apparent purpose. They’re naked and touching themselves, touching each other, and it’s a bit violent and tender at the same time. It’s also funny in an awkward way when they perform a boldness their bodies don’t possess yet.

Zwei. Within the system I am bamboozled by the visual politics of Ponyboy Curtis’ new performance piece #fcksystms. I’m ricocheting spectacularly between judging the bodies as ‘pretty to look at’ and being utterly conflicted about the act of looking itself. Within the system I eroticise this string of images and sounds and I definitely ask ‘is this pornographic?’

They’re forcing their bodies to imitate awkward moves from YouTube videos flashing in the background. Constant flickers mark the performers’ bodies as not entirely their own. Possessed by projected images perhaps, and projection is not only a technical process involving a source of light but also a continuous process between people. Projecting wishes, demands and expectations onto the Other. They take photos of themselves. Masculinity, too, is performed and like other images, is projected back but of course in only some of its incarnations. Some bodies look alike in their strong and sinewy athleticism. Some are more angular but never curvy or even damaged, always young, beautiful and potent.

Drei. Within the system and, this one’s not news, I consume. When I watch anything I consume. Images on television, in adverts, people around – I file or discard them according to their projected usefulness for the future. The moments I don’t appropriate the world around me as consumable are rare. I don’t like to think of myself as a predominantly consuming being. Yet, I know I am and watching has everything to do with it. Anyone who has ever stared into the eyes of a supposed loved one after a row, or a shag, or a good curry wondering if your time investment in this person is worth it knows it deep down: life throws us (and we are merely digesting) slabs of meat.

They meet, not just pass by each other but really meet. A hundred times over they negotiate with eyes and limbs how they are going to cross the concrete playing ground. The control is in their own hands. Again, it seems as if nothing is of consequence but it still leaves marks on their bodies. Perhaps they tattoo themselves. They strut and pose. It looks a lot like work when they rope-skip. Perhaps they talk and the music, this pulsing, never-ending noise drowns out whatever they have to say. They recite poetry and incite an uprising. A war against representation they refuse to leave un-fought. They gift a precious dance always teetering on the brink of failing.

Vier. Within the system I wonder how much Chris Goode really risks by putting an experimental, queer performance/dance piece in front of a self-selected audience at this particular East London performance venue. And I really truly wonder how relatable a piece of art needs to be to fulfil its objective, and do I not need to be informed of what it is trying to do? What if its ways of being radical about how calcified representations should be challenged, excludes uninitiated audiences? What about narrative and distinguishable speech? I wonder if that makes me a bad audience member. I wonder who makes these rules.

And then, Fuck.The.System. With a proposal. “Being alive is so unlikely. I want to dance. Do you wanna dance?”

Then, we just give into the joys of watching. We welcome the erotic not as taboo but as constitutive of the human animal. Then, we’re kissing goodbye to the whiff of voyeuristic guilt as best we can. With fleshy tongues.

Then, we know that images hold no universal truth. We know that they’re charged up artefacts, sticky with the traces of power and meaning they have soaked up through time.

Then, we know that wherever we go our bodies are topped up with market value and that a naked body can refuse to be meat. Then, we have the ethical responsibility to encounter the other. Encounters that can be sexual, but do not have to be solely about sex.

Then, we just want to keep chipping away at established and encrusted forms of creating relatable experiences. Then, we all live more dangerously as we join in the uncanny retrieval of buried and encrusted social boundaries. And won’t get offended when we’re getting lost on the way because we’ve entered the risk together.

‘Then’ is not temporal, ‘then’ is always already there as an opportunity. As we build a tribe.

Stan, Paul, Griffyn, Samuel, Andre, Craig, Zack, Nick, Sarah, Chris, Simon and us. We.

Posted in Reviews, Theatre Tagged with: , ,
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