Dealing With Media

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one of the photos I took almost two years ago when I last was in Israel. A jewish boy in front of the Dome of the Rock.

Another Off Topic Post on a Friday, in English this time.

I think we all are aware of the situation in Israel and Gaza and it literally tears up my heart to see this. This sounds soo cheesy, but I don’t what to be on either ‘side’, I really just want everyone to not be extremist and I want people to be aware of the other side.

But this isn’t to be about the conflict and the war itself – I don’t no enough about the the conflict in depth and I don’t know enough about war (and frankly, I hope I’ll never know).
This is about the media. And propaganda and the whole issue of ‘opinions’ and ‘statements’ and snippets we get to see here and there on TV, on social media and via any kind of communication outlet.

From my time in Israel two years ago (gosh, I’m getting old!) I still am connected to people on facebook I now wish I wasn’t. There are things in my news feed I can’t really take, not because they are too violent or too disturbing because of the misery displayed, but they literally SCREAM racism and propaganda. There are racist jokes about ‘Arabs’ shared and things ‘Arabs’ can do or be in Israel, while Israelis can’t do any of the things displayed in any other Arabic country. And then, reading newspaper articles online you get a distrubing image of Hamas using their people as human shields, houses bombed in Gaza and so many people dying. On TV there are pictures of big, teary eyes of children. And below these online articles are really hateful anti-israeli, anti-zionist and antisemitist comments you wouldn’t exactly expect in a country like Germany. I mean…almost 70 years later.
And to round up this chaos when talking about the situation with my friends over in Israel I get an idea of the way they view the situation over there: being ready for the army’s call but at the same time a little bit sad because this call very probably won’t come, being confronted with rockets every day, multiple times and having no real chance to leave the country – or: not wanting to. But when they ask my perspective they usually don’t believe it. A family with German citizenshop killed in Gaza? Well…they probably didn’t do anything to leave Gaza then – right? (Nope, they probably did. All borders are closed.)

I don’t have any idea how to solve all these problems. I don’t even want to argue with my friends about how the dead people (and I’m not talking children only here) in Gaza used to be as human as the dead Israeli soldiers and how some people being as extremist as Hamas is probably does not give any other person the right to be the same.

I don’t know what it is like to be hated by a small and yet armed group of extremists and I am very grateful for that, but eventually I just wish for peace and an ending to the killing.

My BA thesis which I wrote last year was about constructions of identity in performances with participants from the Middle East (Israelis, Palestinians, Iranians) and during my work on that and seeing the productions I was writing about I saw a lot of (‘acted’) hate and misunderstanding. I like to believe that in theses groups they actually were close and they could overcome these things, but I know that there people around (of ANY nationality) thinking that other people (of ANY nationality) don’t have the right to do what they are doing or to be where they are. And it really hurts my actual body to know this. To know that people are like that. And that they are willing to kill other people for that.

I know this post sounds a little whiny and maybe even a little bit ‘The white girl is having trouble with the bad world!’, but really: All I want is peace.

And I’d love to make a statement, leave a sign, whatever.
But that’s hard without making someone else uncomfortable, without being seen as anti-israeli, anti-jewish, anti-whatever and without seeing myself as anti-human. I’m stuck there and here in between things.

But then again, this is not about me, this is about these countries (which is more like one country and one kind of not-occupied, but in the same moment occupied one) and about the people living there. They need to know things and we all need to learn and know things and we all need to support whatever it takes to establish a human way of living for both sides over there in Israel and the Palestinian territories. And not in some pseudo-liberal but segregating arrangement.

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Temple Mount viewed from Mount of Olive, this is not only the ‘most Jerusalem’-y image for me, but also a multi-religious one.

Wenn bestatten deine Arbeit ist … Thoughts on Sarg Niemals Nie

After my very belated posts about The Bridges of Madison County and Jasper in Deadland I have yet another show to write about which is closed already. Yay, Lisanne! This time it’s a German show, a German production, you could also say Berlin-ish – because as far as I am informed this was a whole produced in Berlin: from a reading-workshop-kind of production last summer to a whole (about 90 minutes long) show this spring.

I’m talking about the show Sarg Niemals Nie which I already mentioned in one of my posts over on newmusicaltheatre.com where I also talked about the title. If you just say the title without putting too much pressure on the r, it sounds just as you’d say “Sag niemals nie” which translates to “Never say never!”, but the small additon of the r to the ‘Sag’ makes the word mean ‘coffin’, Sarg = coffin.

And this brings us to the topic of the show. It focusses on a funeral home, a family business – a while after the family’s father died. His younger (?), but very serious and slightly compulsive son has taken the lead along with the Polish maid (what a cliché!) while his brother is somewhere in India. They struggle to keep the business going – mostly because of discount undertaker businesses (like ‘McSarg‘…) and from time to time they keep themselves happy smoking a joint after a long day. Then the brother returns from India, does weird Kamasutra stuff and accidentally drops the ashes of one of their costumers into the secret dope-stash. The dope-stash is smoked and the high is as no high was before and they see an opportunity to earn money, for a small business on the side: Special dope. They kind of get caught by the police, not for the dope-dealing, but for building cheap coffins out of Ikea cupboards – in the end everything’s fine, they stop dealing, the ‘bad brother’ (who turns out to be not that bad in fact) leaves while the compulsive brother and the Polish maid fall in love.

This sounds crazy?
Well…in fact…it is.
And if you are in the mood for some craziness it’s pretty funny as well.

I saw it in one of the smallest venues of musical theatre I’ve ever seen and ever have been to – the Studio of Neuköllner Oper with about 50 seats. The stage was narrow and slightly shallow and putting something like this up in this space is an artform by itself. With a coffin as a centre piece on stage, which worked kind of like one of these magicians boxes where people get parted, a funny moment is happening when we first whitness Dakmar (the Polish maid) and David (the compulsive son) calling it a day and transforming the coffin into a couch.

But now on to the things I like talking about most: the directing. I have the feeling that when you showcase new material, even in a ‘real production’, it is so much about just showcasing the material: showing the people what kind of score we got and what kind of book. Often the directing can be ‘charming’ – but adding in something completely new is hard, or at least it’s hard to realize for audiences, in this case the writers Jörn-Felix Alt and Dominik Wagner also directed. So, for the most part is was sweet and charming – the performance started as soon as we were allowed to enter the studio, with Patrick Cieslik as David standing by the door, shaking hands and welcoming us to a funeral. That gave a nice, immersive touch.

Funnily enough I saw all of the three actors on stage before – Patrick Cieslik and Yvonne Greitzke (as Dakmar) in Stimmen im Kopf (where both of them oddly enough portayed very similar characters) and I saw them a couple of times during the latest Bundeswettbewerb Gesang, while I saw Maximilian Mann in the show his year of UdK musical-students did a while ago (maybe in 2010?), where also Jörn-Felix Alt was in. From that show I knew that Jörn-Felix Alt is a terrific dancer and his choreographies were very much how you expect a good dancer to choreograph: they were dance-y and modern-y and they could easily be spotted as ‘dance’, but sometimes I felt a little bit uneasy watching them because among all this crazy stuff going on, this hilariously crazy plot and the lyrics the dancing added another topping which maybe was too much.

Overall I had a good time seeing it (and I would have hated to not have gone – there were some problems with my reservation, the theatre had lost it…), I liked the characters and the music and eventually I’m like “Yay! Original musical theatre from Germany!” most of the times anyways. So I’m eager to see new things of that team. Or of others.

But if I may make a wish: Maybe not a comedy the next time?

P.S.: For some orientation I’ve found a video snippet of one of the songs. Enjoy.

Is it okay if I touch you? … The Bridges of Madison County

first time I went to see it, I was excited anyways, and then THIS happened!

first time I went to see it, I was excited anyways, and then THIS happened! JRB himself conducting!

 

the Bridges marquee at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

the Bridges marquee at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Well…writing about The Bridges of Madison County so long after it’s closed and even after Jason Robert Brown winning two of his Tony Awards for it seems so wrong and anachronistic, but sometimes I’m a little slow with things and that’s why I really want to do it (because – as I have expressed multiple times already – I loved this show and I love the score so much!) and now is the time I finally get to it. So: Yeah.

First of all – I’m not the biggest fan of romance and romancy types of stuff. Novels, movies, TV shows – as long as it is pure romance there are only very fews ways to get me interested. And many people would put Bridges in the “pure romance” category – just briefly seen it’s just the story of a man and a woman falling in love and ‘finding the love of their lives’ and then need to ‘break up’ because she is married. And of course, cheating is a very sensitive topic to touch and the married one being the woman is even more complicated because woman (still) are expected to give most of what they have for their husband and kids, to their family. The German theatre performance group She She Pop even created a whole evening of theatrical performance about the sacrifices (their) mothers had to make in order to make their family work. Anyway.

Looking deeper into the show itself I find that there are so many ‘paintings’ layered on top of each other. Not only the music is layered in a way you can listen to it a million times and still finding things you never had heard before – I kid you not, I had a situation where I was listening to it non stop and suddenly was like: “Wait. Did that cello just play this? Had it played it before? No way it has – I would have had heard that earlier!” and then, of course, the cello always had played that way because it’s a recording. On a CD. And they don’t tend to change.

When I remember the two performances I was lucky enough to see on Broadway (and I even was lucky enough to have Jason Robert Brown conduct both of them…) I really like to think about it as a layered painting as well. Not only was the biggest part of the set, the backround, a somewhat old-school-ish painted backround. There was the Iowa-ian sky and fields. On that painting the lights painted emotions and day and night and day again. And eventually Francesca and Robert told their story and while telling it they painted pictures of all the other people: Of her husband Bud and her kids, of Marian, Robert’s former wife, of those who live close by Francesca and of her past in Italy and how she first came to America. Not only the script and the music tells everything through them but Kelli O’Hara (why didn’t she win the Tony?? Why didn’t she win ANY of the awards she was nominated for? WHY?) and Steven Pasquale actually spun this story in between their bodies and voices and their pure performances. Seeing it live on stage actually was like agreeing to it and committing to it in the first moments, following this solo cello along on this journey. This sounds very cheesy, but I swear there are theatre experiences like that, you agree, follow along and there’s no way out for you before the curtain call and for me Bridges definitely was one of those. And whenever they stuck to the story as told through Robert and Francesca it worked best for me. I’m still not very sure about the part the elderly couple next door plays in this story (of course they are more like the Bouffo-couple, the ones mirroring and foreshadowing in Francesca’s Iowian life) – they could work as ‘told’ by Francesca as well, actually, but then they do stuff and help her after she couldn’t bring herself to leave along with Robert.
I remember my family having slight problems with the song “When I’m gone” because somehow, if you don’t listen closely (maybe because of language problems, maybe because you are not fully paying attention…) it’s easy to miss that both of the man – Bud and Charlie die over the years. And I think it also might be because of the sudden change of narrator: Suddenly the husbands are telling the (their) story not – but only for one song, because afterwards: They are dead. And afterwards the old narration is re-established, Franscesca and Robert are kind of finishing their painting of their lives.

When I think about that show as a painting, of imagining things together and putting pieces into their places the directing was just that – it made people put together things on stage, building a home (see what I did here?) and a bigger picture.

I have a really bad feeling raving about the mode Bridges is written in and was shown in, and I definitely see some weak spots in the book like so many others pointed out – but I also have the feeling that so many people hard-core loved the show and so many people just thought it was boring and maybe got offended by the story of a woman cheating on her husband.

In the ‘About me’-section of this blog I quote Jennifer Ashley Tepper from her book “The Untold Stories of Broadway”. In this book she talks about Merrily We Roll Along and how much she loves it and how much she wishes she could have seen the original production (so do I after reading about it!) – and thinking about Bridges I feel it could be my Merrily. Only that I was fortunate enough to have seen it.

Music Monday … Raining

If you have read yesterday’s post of my last week in review you may have noticed that I was really getting into the Broadway recording of Rocky over the last week. Besides all this vocal “male-ness” I really enjoy Adrian as a character – although you could REALLY argue about the concept of female existance displayed over there.

I think her most narrative song is Raining and when I found her performing it on the New York Times’ art blog I became obsessed with this song and her performance again.

Please, go and see for yourself – it’s amazing, you’ll see.

Video of Margo Seibert singing ‘Raining’.

What are you listening to today? I’d be happy to hear!
Happy Monday, folks!

My Week #36, July 14th – 20th

what I saw
Well….nothing. Theatre-wise. Sadly. But most of the theatres are on their seasonal break right now anyways.

what I read
Finished Yasmina Reza’s Glücklich die Glücklichen, finally finished that one and I quite enjoyed it, actually.

what I listened to
Mostly the same as mentioned in last week’s post, plus I’ve been into the Broadway recording of Rocky lately. I mean, there’s nothing like riding the bike across the city listening to Eye of the Tiger and being totally bad ass, right?

what I did
I went to Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart to see a lovely friend on Monday and returned on Tuesday, I worked and today I went for a little day trip to a lake near Berlin with two (also) lovely friends – both of these trips I enjoyed. Summery times ahead.

What did you do?

The Theaterkind facebook page is only 6 away from 100 likes! Can we make it? That’d be AWESOME. :)

Have a great new week starting tomorrow!

Off Topic … Theaterkind und Schreibwaren

To the English speaking readers: This very German post is an exception today. Stay tuned for new English ones.

Heute aus gegebenem Anlass mal auf Deutsch (was für mich auch sehr ungewohnt ist…) – aber das hier ist ein so deutscher Post, dass es auf englisch kaum Sinn ergeben würde.

Auf jeden Fall ist dieser Post nicht gesponsert und ich hab das auch alles brav bezahlt. Nur einen Rabattcode benutzt, den Roterfaden der Bloggerin Ringelmiez nach ihrem superschönen Post über ihren Taschenbegleiter zur Verfügung gestellt hat.

Ich besitze jetzt inzwischen seit knapp vier Jahren einen Taschenbegleiter in Din A5 (wer jetzt denkt: Taschenbegleiter, hä? Dem/der sei wirklich der oben verlinkte Post von Ringelmiez ans Herz gelegt…), in dem ich immer einen Kalender, ein Notizheft und eine Klarsichthülle mit Kassenzetteln und/oder Karten, Memorabilia oder sonst was rumtrage. Daneben hab ich seit zwei Jahren ungefähr einen A4 Ausgabe des ganzen mit iPad Tasche hinten, die ich vor allem für die Uni benutze.

Mit dem Rabattcode von Ringelmiez habe ich dann die Gunst der Stunde genutzt und eine größere Bestellung gemacht – auch gleich meinen Kalender fürs nächste Jahr bestellt, weil ich ihn sonst immer erst panisch Ende Dezember bestelle und dann die ersten Tage im neuen Jahr ohne da stehe….

Also: Los geht’s mit dem, was in meiner Bestellung war…

IMG_2402Immer, wenn man so ein Paket von Roterfaden aufmacht, ist die Bestellung in dieses zartrosa Seidenpapier (?) eingeschlagen und dann ist es immer ein bisschen wie ein Geschenk auspacken. Von einem selbst. An sich selbst. Mmh.

IMG_2404Meine Bestellung im Überblick, von links auf 11 Uhr mit dem Uhrzeigersinn nach unten: Kalender (“Layout 2″), 3er Pack A4 Notizhefte Blanko, To-Do-Listen-Block, 3er Pack A4 Notizhefte mit Punkteraster und einen weiteren Kalender (“Layout 1″).

IMG_2405Nachdem ich im ersten Jahr mit dem Taschenbegleiter das andere Kalenderlayout benutzt habe, bin ich 2014 nun schon im dritten Jahr mit dem oben abgebildeten Layout und sehr zufrieden. Für mich (gerade mit meiner kleinen Handschrift) sind die Linien groß genug und ich mag es eine Übersicht meiner Termine nach Zeiten zu haben. Oben in den Blankoteil der Seiten klebe ich gerne Post-Its mit Informationen, Listen oder ich schreibe “feste To Dos” einfach dort über den jeweiligen Tag.

IMG_2406Dieses Jahr habe ich mir zusätzlich noch den Kalender im anderen Layout bestellt, als eine Art Tagebuch. Dieses wie letztes Jahr benutze ich einen A5 Tageskalender von Moleskine, wo die Seiten aber immer so groß sind, dass ich selten wirklich was schreibe (welch seltsame Kausalität…). Nun dachte ich, dass das vielleicht eine gute Alternative ist – pro Tag ist ungefähr Platz für 5 Zeilen meiner Handschrift und eben rechts die ganze Seite zum Einkleben von Sachen oder weiteren Ausführungen…wir werden sehen, wie das klappt.

IMG_2408 Jetzt kommen wir zum wirklich (auch für mich) spannenden Part der Bestellung. Dieses kleine Heftchen, das sichtlich schmaler ist als A5, ist ein Block mit linierten, perforierten Seiten – gedacht zum Einklemmen oder einfach Reinlegen in den Taschenbegleiter. Gerade habe ich To Do Listen vor allem in Form von Post-Its in meinem Kalender, ich bin gespannt, wie ich diesen kleinen Block nutzen kann.

IMG_2407Hier die Innenansicht des Ganzen. Wie niedlich ist denn bitte die kleine abgetrennte Linie, für Häkchen oder ein Datum oder so?

IMG_2410Neben den Kalendern und dem To Do Heftchen habe ich auch noch sechs (!) A4 Hefte bestellt, weil man a) nie wissen kann und ich b) ab Herbst wieder richtig studieren werde nach meinem freien Semester diesen Sommer. An die blanko Hefte bin ich gewöhnt, die benutze ich meistens für die Uni, die mit dem Punktraster sind noch recht neu und ich wollte sie unbedingt mal ausprobieren. Obwohl ich sonst unbedingt leere Seiten haben muss, ist es – gerade wenn es für die Uni ein wenig ordentlicher sein soll – doch manchmal ganz nett, ein wenig ‘Orientierung’ zu haben, und irgendwie erschien mir das Punkteraster wie die perfekte Mischung aus beidem.

Noch etwas kurzes zum Papier: Für meine A5 Hefte, wo ich inzwischen etwa halb-halb zwischen Roterfaden und anderen Marken mische, habe ich gern festeres Papier, weil ich dort gern mit Füller schreibe und dafür ist das normale Papier der Roterfaden Hefte leider zu dünn (man kann es machen, man sieht ‘nur’ die Schrift durchschimmern – aber die Tinte verläuft nicht, auch im Kalender) – weshalb ich da zu den Skizzenheften greife, wenn es Roterfaden sein soll. Andererseits passen eben (glücklicherweise) auch alle anderen Hefte im jeweiligen Din-Format rein, was gut ist – denn ich habe viele hübsche Hefte, weil: hoher Verbrauch.

Ein weiteres tolles Feature der Hefte sind die mitgelieferten Aufkleber in der jeweiligen “Jahresfarbe” (für 2014 ein strahlendes Hellgrün), die auf die Heftrücken geklebt werden können und für Ordnung im Heftarchiv/Regal sorgen. Ich liebe das (obwohl mein Hang zur Ordnung eher theoretischer Natur ist), würde mir aber wirklich wünschen, dass sie auch einzeln zu erwerben wären (und die alten Jahresfarben-Sticker vielleicht auch….), weil ich gerne alle meine Hefte so ausstatten würde…und eben nur Sticker in der jeweilgen Jahresfarbe des gerade laufenden Jahres mitgeliefert werden. Seien wir aber ehrlich: Ich werde keine sechs A4 Hefte vollschreiben in diesem Jahr…

Auf jeden Fall bin ich gespannt auf die Hefte und danke Roterfaden für die Zur-Verfügung-Stellung (?) des Rabattcodes zur Feier von Ringelmiez’ neuer (und sehr süßer) Website. Und diese Schreibwaren waren mir einfach mal einen seltenen Off-Topic-Post hier wert.

– Auch in den schwierigen Zeiten in den Krisenherden in Osteuropa und vor allem im Nahen Osten, dem ich mich oft sehr nah fühle. Ich sorge mich um alle Menschen dort und hoffe einfach, dass kein Extremist, egal welcher Religion, ‘Ethnie’ oder Nationalität er angehört, gewinnen wird. In diesen Zeiten fühlt es sich für mich noch schwieriger an über Theater zu schreiben.

Habt ihr Schreibwaren, die ihr liebt und ohne die ihr eventuell das Haus nicht verlasst? Mögt ihr eine Marke ganz besonders? Ich würde mich freuen, wenn ihr mich das entweder hier in den Kommentaren oder auf meiner Facebook-Seite wissen lassen würdet! (und auch, ob ihr vielleicht manchmal einen kleinen Off-Topic-Post haben wollt…)

Ich wünsche euch ein schönes Wochenende!

I found a new baby … Bullets Over Broadway

doesn't that look glorious? Some lightened glamour at St. James.

doesn’t that look glorious? Some lightened glamour at St. James.

When did Bullets over Broadway open again on Broadway? Well…let’s just say it was some time ago and I saw it when it still was in previews. And I didn’t get to write about it until know. Because…stuff kept happening – but last week I got the recording in the mail and this gave me the opportunity to revisit the show at least audio-wise. So I did and it finally made me write about it (and a six hour train ride to and from a destination within two days).

I remember that I wore me pretty 20ies hat to see that show and that I was rather excited for the show because a) the 1920ies and b) Betsy Wolfe. Plus I have always know myself as someone who enjoys a Woody Allen movie although I’m not all “I need to see this” on them.

There were actually a lot of elderly women dressed up to their best in the audience which I thought was adorable and quite different from most of the other shows I’ve seen on Broadway – somehow the dressed up elderly people is something I only picture in German theatres.

But now – let’s just turn to the story or the production itself. I didn’t know the story beforehand except for the fact that gansters were involved and a theatre writer – I still can’t tell, but it probably follows the plot of the movie quite closely, I really should watch the movie because overall I enjoyed the story as something very funny in a Woody Allen kind of way. While I usually am not very fond of comedy.

Something I was very interested in regarding the show was was the score, which consists of authentic songs from the era. I kept wondering how they’d fit into the story which does not seem to be very musical-theatre-y itself. I can’t remember feeling as uncomfortable as many shows using pre-existing songs to put into pre-existing stories make me feel.

While re-visiting the show in my imagination I was also able to remember all these excessive and yet, very charming images and all this amazing tap dance going on.

Director and choreographer of the show, Susan Stroman, had two shows opening on Broadway this past season and I was fortunate enough to see both of them – Big Fish and…yes…Bullets. She’s definetely a “Go big or go home”-kind of director and as far as I am able to judge she was all into the 20ies for this one. There is a train-model and a moving old timer car and tap choreographies and tap dancing on said train model and show costumes – so basically it is a show of a show. And while showing off it’s so ironic and funny – I very clearly remember laughing very hard during some scenes because they were so Woody Allen-ish over the top I could not really take it anymore.

We actually didn’t get to see Zachary Braff, but his understudy and he was amazing Andy Jones and it probably was his first time going on and he was hilarious and as ‘helpless’/clumsy as his character seems to be. He just enters this strudle of events and writing and getting produced and the gasters intervening. My personal highlights were Heléne Yorke and (of course) Betsy Wolfe and Nick Cordero. They did carrie this show so much and their characters contribute so much to all these demanding events that happen to the character of David.

Overall I had fun, yes I did, it was funny and I had a good time. But when I listened to the recording with my mom the other night she was: “I like the music, but funnily enough – this is the only one of the shows we saw I don’t see scenes in my head while listening!”

And maybe she’s right.