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10 Dinge, die mir die Berliner Next to Normal-Produktion (über mich) beigebracht hat

There’s also an English version of this article which can be found by clicking here – English!

  1. Wenn man Teile der Übersetzung nicht mag und sie deshalb ändert, sollte man sie wirklich zum Besseren ändern. Es ist total okay, wenn man Dinge nicht mag, auch (und vielleicht sogar vor allem) auf diese Übersetzung bezogen – wie ich ja auch schon mehrfach erwähnt hab. Und Änderungen sind auch super – sofern man immer auch die Einwilligung des Originalautors der (deutschen) Textfassung einholt, falls es sehr einschneidende Änderungen sind oder mehr als eine bestimmte Prozentzahl des Texts geändert wird (Urheberrechtsseminare, juhuu!). Andererseits ist es nicht okay, Dinge einfach nur zu ändern, weil man sie ändern möchte – man muss eine wirklich bessere Idee haben. Wenn man sich unsicher ist, ob die Idee wirklich besser ist, kann man den_die Dramaturg_in fragen.
  1. Man kann demselben Regisseur in einigen Punkten sehr zustimmen und in anderen Punkten so sehr anderer Meinung sein. Okay, das hab ich vorher gewusst – es wäre verstörend, wenn nicht, aber kaum eine (Musical)Produktion in den letzten Jahren hat mir das so deutlich gezeigt. Als ich vor knapp zwei Jahren nach Fürth gefahren bin, um mir damals die erste deutschsprachige Produktion von Next to Normal anzusehen, war ich irgendwie enttäuscht davon, wie Gabe in dieser Inszenierung zu sehen war. Für mich ist Gabe nicht der coole, liebenswerte Traumsohn. Für mich ist er böse. Sehr, sehr böse. Ich meine, wenn Diana ihre Familie verlässt, wendet er sich – als Figur jedenfalls, was das psychologisch für eine Art Traumaübertragung ist, ist eine ganz andere Geschichte – Dan zu. Wenn ich eine Produktion von Next to Normal betreuen müsste….nun gut. Thorsten Fischer, der Regisseur der Berliner Inszenierung, stellt hier Gabe wenigstens irgendwie diabolisch, ambivalent und ja, auch böse, zorning und manchmal geradezu bockig vor – was ich sehr mochte. Viele andere Dinge aber, haben mich sehr geärgert, was mich zum nächsten Punkt bringt….
  1. Kümmere dich um deine (Schau-)Spieler. Wer glaubt an einen seltsamen Zufall, dass fast keine Kritik (keine, die ich gelesen hab, jedenfalls…) über Guntbert Warns schreibt? Die Menschen, die in Berlin über Musical schreiben, scheinen einen stillen Pakt geschlossen zu haben und zu versuchen, negative Stimmen über bestimmte Mitglieder der Besetzung zu vermeiden. Das tue ich auch, es gibt mir verhältnismäßig wenig, zu schreiben: DU BIST SCHLEEEEEEEEEECHT! Allerdings: Es ist schlecht. Als ich neulich erst wieder die Broadway-Aufnahme des Stücks gehört hab, ist mir einmal mehr aufgefallen, was für eine musikalisch schöne und (NATÜRLICH!) bedeutungsvolle Partie Dan ist. Herr Warns bringt es da – leider – einfach nicht. Es wird ziemlich viel gesprochen, parlando oder rezitativisch fällt einem da zuerst ein, wenn man über seinen Gesang nachdenkt, und dann leider nur noch schlechter Gesang, was die Inszenierungen auf verschiedene Arten unterwandert. Ich habe irgendwann angefangen, das Musical Next to Normal in seinem Genre anzuzweifeln (so weit muss es erst einmal kommen!): Warum singt jemand, wenn er offensichtlich sehr viel besser sprechen kann? Wie „unnatürlich“ ist denn Musiktheater bitte? Und zumindest in der Premiere hat er für mich so unsicher und ‚unbehaglich’ (das ist ein doofes Wort, aber im englischen Original des Artikels steht uncomfortable, das ist es) gewirkt, dass ich mich wirklich gefragt habe, warum Diana Dan nicht schon viel früher verlässt. Wie auch immer, ich möchte jetzt hier nicht über Guntbert Warns ablästern oder ihn ‚mobben’. Es ist nämlich nicht seine Schuld, dass er für eine Rolle besetzt wurde, die er (stimmlich) nicht erfüllen kann. Der Regisseur und das Creative Team haben ihn besetzt. Ich glaube wirklich daran, dass man sich als Creative Team nicht nur um die Inszenierung kümmern muss, sondern auch um die (Schau-)Spieler. Und manchmal muss man sie beschützen.
  1. Wenn man ein Musical inszeniert/in den Spielplan nimmt, sag nicht, es sei ein „Schauspiel mit Musik“. Einfach nein. Vor allem nicht mit einem Stück wie Next to Normal. Und das merkt man, wenn man dem Score einmal richtig zuhört: Musik und Handlung und Dianas Geisteszustand sind hier musikalisch so sehr verschmolzen, dass es nicht mehr lustig ist. Und die E-Gitarre bei „Wish I was here“ / „Wär ich nur da“ ist da nur der Anfang….Spiel und Musik sind hier ungefähr so verstrickt wie Text und Musik bei Cole Porter Songs. Deshalb sind die auch so eine Bitch zu übersetzen. Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte.
  1. Ähnlich wie Nr. 4: Nur weil man einen Song nicht mag, heißt das nicht, dass man da durchhuschen muss („Song of Forgetting“ / „Lied vom Vergessen“, von dir rede ich – wann genau denkt Diana da nach und gräbt nach ihren Erinnerungen?)
  1. Angenommen man trifft eine künstlerische Entscheidung. Angenommen man mag das optimistische, ‚helle’ Ende nicht, das durch „Light“ / „Licht“ nahegelegt wird. Wie großartig wäre es dann zu dieser Entscheidung zu stehen? Die Spieler eine seltsame und …. unpassende Pose einnehmen zu lassen (so eine seltsame Pärchen-Pose, in der sie sich mit dem Rücken gegen seine Vorderseite lehnt und sich in seine Arme drapiert, ist doch unangebracht für eine Vater-Tochter-Kombo, oder?), dann Black für bestimmt 5 bis 10 Sekunden, alle klatschen, denken es ist zu Ende (weil: so wurde die Pause auch schon eingeläutet, plötzliches Black), dann geht das Licht wieder an und „Licht“ wird gesungen als eine Art Epilog. Was ist das? Brecht im Sinne von „Haha, wir können uns von uns selbst distanzieren?“, ein Hinweis, dass das alles „nur Theater“ ist? Das Ende vor dem Black war stark und berührend und verstörend und fast schon ein fieser Tritt in die Magengegend und dann – BOOM – haha, nur Spaß oder was? Ich bin mir verhältnismäßig sicher, man hätte vielleicht mit den Rechteinhabern eine Lösung finden können und dann hätte die (wahrscheinlich) ursprüngliche Idee auch so stattfinden können….obwohl….nun ja…..
  1. Wenn man besetzt, sollte man darüber nachdenken, wie die Stimmen mit einander harmonieren bzw. sich mischen. Bei manchen Entscheidungen hier denkt man WTF (s. Nr. 3) und bei anderen fragte man sich nur WARUM diese KOMBINATION? (wir machen keine one-(wo)man-show, auch nicht zwei, drei parallel, auch kein Sing-Off, sondern Theater!)
  1. Diana ist keine besonders stabile Person. Dass sie die Zeile „Bin kein Soziopath“ singt, weißt – jedenfalls für mich – darauf hin, dass sie eigentlich einer ist. Sie hat Probleme damit, das Verhalten anderer zu analysieren und entsprechend darauf zu reagieren – das lernen wir schon ganz am Anfang bei ihrem ersten Dialog mit Nathalie und eigentlich das ganze „Wie an jedem Tag“ hindurch. Sie liest ziemlich viel von dem Verhalten anderer als Sex-Anspielungen („Mein Arzt, die Psychopharmaka und ich“….) und meiner Meinung nach sind diese „Witze“, die daraus entstehen, sehr viel kraftvoller und verstörender, wenn man als Zuschauer das Verhalten des Arztes als vieles, aber keinesfalls als sexuell lesen kann. Weil es dann nicht nur so ist, dass man sich als Zuschauer freut, dass der Sex-Witz jetzt ENDLICH durchs Ziel gelaufen ist, nachdem man ihn schon eine Minute lang hat kommen sehen (that’s what she said, Lisanne!).
  1. Nichts wirklich Neues: Ich MUSS einfach mit Musicals arbeiten, wenn ich mal eine wirklich ausgewachsene Dramaturgin bin. Musical hat die Kraft mich ewig zu beschäftigen. Und auch die Inszenierungen selbiger. Vor allem die. (Mag mich jemand einstellen?….kleiner Scherz….)
  1. Nichts wirklich Neues Teil 2, aber es hat mich dennoch mal wieder richtig erwischt: Ich kann so aufgeregt sein FÜR andere Menschen. Für mich selbst so lala, aber für andere ALL THE WAY. Ich war ein Wrack.
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10 Things I learned (about me) while seeing the Berlin production of Next to Normal

There’s a German version of this article avaliable which you can find by clicking here – German!

  1. If you don’t like certain parts of a translation and you change these parts make sure you really change them for the better. Not liking things is totally fine, especially with this translation as I pointed out on more than one occasion. Changing things is totally fine, too, as long as you are checking back with the original translator (at least in case these changes are very crucial and/or cover more than a certain percentage of the text). On the other hand – what isn’t fine is changing things for the sake of changing it. If you cannot come up with a better idea then stick to what the translator gave you. When in doubt: Ask the dramaturg for opinion.
  1. You can totally agree with a director in some things and totally disagree on others. Okay, that one I knew before – I’m gonna be a dramaturg eventually. But I think few productions over the past years have made this as clear to me as this one. When I went South to see the first German production of Next to Normal almost two years ago now I remember being a little bit frustrated with the way this production introduced Gabe as the cool, lovely and just overall nice son. To me he isn’t. He is evil. Really, really evil. I mean: When Diana leaves Dan and Nathalie he turns to them instead. If I had to work on a production myself, there would be…..anyway. Thorsten Fischer, the director of the Berlin production, made Gabe at least kind of evil for the most parts – which I was a big fan of. For so many other things though I couldn’t agree less. Which brings me to…
  1. You have to take care of your actors. Do you think it’s a weird coincidence that Guntbert Warns who plays Dan isn’t talked about in pretty much ALL the reviews (at least the ones I read)? Berlin reviewers and German musical blogs seem to hesitate to say something negative. However I do, too. But: It’s bad. Listening to the Broadway recording especially shows how beautiful and meaningful Dan’s part is music-wise. Mr. Warns really isn’t cutting it. There’s a lot of speaking and things that loosely resemble parlando or recitative forms and then bad singing. Which undermines this production in so many ways. I was constantly reminded how weird and not “natural” musical theatre is as a genre itself: Why does someone sing when he is obviously SO MUCH BETTER at speaking? Also: My thoughts are with those who have to harmonize with him every night (especially Gabe and Henry, my thoughts are with you, boys!) At least on opening night he also looked so uncomfortable and all I kept thinking was: Why doesn’t Diana walk out on him WAY earlier? However I don’t want to “bully” Mr. Warns. It isn’t his fault he was cast. The director and the creative team cast him. And I really think as members of a creative team you not only have to take care of the production, but also of the actors involved. And sometimes you have to protect them.
  1. If you are producing/directing a musical don’t treat it as a “play with music”. Just don’t. Especially a piece like Next to Normal. Have you listened to the score? You then might have noticed that the music is so tightly knit together with the words and the plot and Diana’s mental state it’s not funny anymore.
  1. On a similar note as 4 is: Just because I don’t like a song it’s not okay to rush through it (“Song of Forgetting” / “Lied vom Vergessen”, I’m talking about you!)
  1. Let’s say you make a creative decision. Let’s say you don’t like the optimistic ending “Light” / “Licht” suggests. How wonderful would it be to just stick to this decision? Making your actors do a weird and inappropriate pose in the end (what is this couple-y she leans backwards into his front-pose between Dan and Nathalie anyway?), then black the scene out, have a solid 5 to 10 second black, everyone is clapping and then having the lights go on again and “Light” starts as some kind of epilogue. How weird is that? We’ve just witnessed a very tense and thrilling ‘ending’ and then – BOOM – just kidding or what? I’m pretty sure you could have just asked those who represent the writers/”own” the rights and then you might had been able to stick to your initial idea.
  1. If you cast people think about how voices sound with each other. With some casting decisions in this production you just are like WTF (see No. 3) and with others you are like WHY?
  1. Diana is not a very stable person. Her singing “I’m no sociopath” hints – at least to me – to her actually being one. She has troubles reading and reacting to people’s behavior (the very first dialogue between Nathalie and her, basically the whole “Just another day”). And she makes a lot of sex jokes (“My Psychopharmacologist and I”….) in my opinion these ‘jokes’ are a lot more powerful and disturbing when you don’t see Dr. Fine act as if he could mean it in a sexy way. Because then it’s not just everyone cheering for the sex-joke to FINALLY cross the finish line after you’ve seen it coming for about a minute.
  1. I REALLY want to work on musicals when I’m a really grown up dramaturg. It totally has the power to have me worked up for days. It really has. (Anyone wanna hire me? – joking….)
  1. Nothing new but this hit me with all its power: I can be so excited and nervous for other people. I really can. I was a nervous wreck.

 

Music Monday … On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship

Sometimes oldies are goldies.

Yesterday I went to Leipzig to see the last ever class of (contemporary) musical theatre students doing their last performance of Songs for a New World. Ages ago, when I was still in high school, I used to be obessed with it and there are so many memories tied to the score! I haven’t listened to the score in its entiery in a while, though. Of course there are songs like Steam Train and King of the World that are amazing to listen to when riding your bike or doing anything higher energetic…but I also almost forgot about how heartbreaking I’d give it all for you is! (I seem to have a thing for these JRB-love-songs) A song I almost completey forgot about and I’m slightly embarrassed to say so, is On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship! I just remeber how obessed I used to be with this acapella parts, I’d listen to them over and over and over and over again for hours.

So let’s take time this Monday to revisit my teenage obession! If you own the recording, play it, it’s an amazing version on there.If you don’t…

a) buy it! It’s worth it!

b) Spotify sure has it.

c) I found this one and it sounds rather nice.

International Women’s Day

People who know me personally or are just familiar with me talking about what and how I (would) like to work usually know how much I am into everything ‘gender’ (this sounds so weird. SO WEIRD!). I’m getting a lot of my (academic) inspiration from what Judith Butler wrote, especially from Gender Trouble‘s second to last chapter. Basically 80% of my undergrad classes in my major dealt with gender and how we see bodies (on stages and I’m trying hard to keep in that way in grad school. While I am usually primarily thinking about how gender might be constructed in certain theatrical productions, in certain moments through music, action, dance, language….basically whatever you could think of.

A big part of my private personality is about being a feminist which (to me) means: I am all in for equality of all people. And if that means rooting for women for a while in order to get us (women, society) as far as we can get in equality – so be it. That certainly doesn’t mean I don’t like men or the work of men. In fact some of my very dear collaborators are male and I will continue to work together well with men. Why shouldn’t I?

But – and there is a big, big B-U-T!

If you have been following this blog you might remember my post about two major competitions held in (musical theatre) Germany these days I posted a while ago (if you don’t: check it our here!) and if you – aditionally or alternatively follow me on twitter you might have guess that I’ve recently jumped on the gender parity waggon, mostly because of the amazing (journalistic) work the ladies at The Interval do.

Actually this has – especially in musical theatre in Germany – bothered me for a while. While in most other genres of theatre women tend to become more and more likely to cover high(ish) positions – it isn’t the case with musicals.

What I wanted to leave here in order to celebrate international women’s day today is: The men in our community are doing good work.

But – and here it finally comes, the big B-U-T – let’s just raise awareness for now. May I ask you to – every time you go and see a show, will you read the names of creative teams and just take a moment? If there aren’t any women in it or if there are, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just think about gender parity in German musicals, okay?

And for those you are making the decisions: I would love to see women and girls encouraged to do work in our business.

I have a hard time starting out myself and I would LOVE to see and meet other young professionals working in/with musicals! But just for now I wish us all (women AND men) to have a fantastic women’s day which I will celebrate by going to Leipzig and see my college’s production of Songs For a New World.

 

Just in case you were just thinking I was making things up here or you need some kick to start thinking about gender parity in theatre, Frank Wesner took this impressive shot last Monday during the first preselection of works at the CREATORS contest I mentioned earlier and in the other post liked above. Pictured are the creators of the five new musicals featured in this preselection. Do I need to say more? ;)

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Music Monday … Believe

We all know I sometimes get a little obsessed with musical numbers. I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing if that didn’t happen once in a while aka all the time. And when we all take a trip down memory lane we’ll be able to see how in love I was with Norbert Leo Butz’ performance in Big Fish.

For this week a similar character from the new and upcoming Broadwayshow Finding Neverland has stolen my heart. Although I am not the biggest fan of effects in musicals, Go big or go home!-style just for the sake of (special) effects. But I like watching people (acting like they are) making things up in this very moment. This was the case with Big Fish when Edward Bloom is making the world bigger than it really is and it is the case in the video / song I’ve chosen for this week’s #MusicMonday. We can see someone creating a(n alternative) reality for people who agree to play along at some point.

This is what theatre (well…in most of its forms) is in its essence whether you like it or not. This it what it means to be someone who watches theatre, who keeps going to see performances. And seeing this agreement you take part in every single night you see a show being performed on stage it – in my opinion – joy.

So let’s sit back and enjoy the ride!

Happy Monday! What are you listening to today? 

My Week #50, Feb 22nd – Mar 1st

what I saw
honestly? Nothing! I haven’t been to a single theatre-performance in two weeks. Haven’t been to the cinema although I should have gone, Into the Woods is finally out in Germany. I’ve been rewatching some German tv shows instead.

what I read
some essays about gender and camp and queerness in musical theatre for an upcoming class I might be “teaching” soon.

what I listened to
I literally have been obsessed with the opening of Lift by Craig Adams and Ian Watson – whenever I needed a little mood-lift (pun NOT intended) I listened to it. And you should, too. It’s on Spotify, fo there and just wait for that “Covent Garden”-passage. Some oldies in my list of favourites were listened to as well. Can we all guess which one that was? ;)

what I did
Right now I’m interning 5 days a week (I was only supposed to go there three days a week, but then my contract with one of my other jobs was not extended right away – which leaves me without a job for now. But that does not matter because….HEY….I’m an UNPAID intern right now) in the evenings I usually went to the gym, had two criminal dinner performances to manage and I went out with my loverly friend who came for a visit from Frankfurt! We had the bestest time! :)

Oh, and of course…..yesterday I freaked out in happiness a little bit….because: the Theaterkind facebook page FINALLY hit the 100 likes! I knew it would happen sooner or later. So, let’s make the 200 happen as well, right?


What did you do?

Have a great new week!

Music Monday … Kind of

My darlings out there, this one is a little bit of a stretch, but after watching the opening of yesterday’s Oscar opening it’s kind of a must.

So, let’s have a look back at 2013 when Neil Patrick Harris hosted to Tonys in the year BEFORE he got his own and opened them with – what I think was the most magical, Broadway-y opening number the Tony Awards could have wished for. And it hits a spot very close to the one yesterday’s Oscars opening hits.

Right?

My Week #49, Jan 26th – Feb 1st

what I saw
a couple of things. First I saw the dress rehearsal of Der verreckte Hof, a musical theatre piece in Bavarian dialect. On the very same day I saw the second to last performance of Show Boat. Then the next day Company and then the following day The World Goes ’round, the evening of Kander and Ebb-songs. All of than happened in various spaces of Landestheater Linz in Austria.

what I read
the libretto of Der Freischütz to prepare for a new production.

what I listened to
Anything Goes, which makes a fabulous soundtrack for an overnight trainride. And Company. And It All Fades Away. On repeat. For a long time.

what I did
After two days of work in Berlin and a day of uni in Leipzig I took the overnight train to Linz, Austria, to attend the annual conference of the Dramaturgische Gesellschaft (dramaturgs’ society). As exhausting these long train-rides to and from were – they totally paid off. The conference was fun, although I didn’t agree with some points….and I had an amazing time meeting old friends and making new ones.


What did you do?

The Theaterkind facebook page is only 3 away from 100 likes! Can we make it? That’d be AWESOME. :)

Have a great new week!

Music Monday … Fly into the Future

I wanted to put a new Music Monday up this week and I went through my old installments and realized I haven’t featured it yet? I mean: Really?

I’ve been full-on obesessed with this song for a good month now or longer. Anyway, I think it’s a great song about female empowerment coming around the corner all so sweetly, school-girly. I like that. A lot.

Listen, and repeat.

I actually am obessed enough to have started thinking about how to translate it into German – it really makes a good song in German. I swear.

 

Have an amazing Monday (night) and if you are on the East coast of the US, please stay safe.

What are you listenting to today? This week?

My Week #48, Jan 19th – 25th

what I saw
this may come as a kind of weirdo-thing, but I saw Shrek in Berlin again. Twice. Which makes – after the preview I saw in Düsseldorf last fall – three Shrek performances I’ve seen. And after the one I saw on Thursday I was so happy I was able to catch another performance on Sunday. It was very different, higher in energy and simply so much better. In between Shreks I saw Die taube Zeitmaschine, a production with hearing as well as (various states of) deaf performers for a hearing as well as (various states of) deaf audiences.

what I read
the New York Times.

what I listened to
oldies, but goldies: Shrek, Rent and Vanities. Most of the times.

what I did
My first semester in Leipzig is coming to an end! I had a presentation in one of my classes on Wednesday which needs to be finished next week, but still….On Wednesday also Legida was ‘protesting’ in Leipzig (for the people not from Germany/Europe: A protest-movement of ‘patriotic’ people was started in Dresden late last year protesting against foreigner and immigrants. Leipzig has a smaller, but more aggressive branch of it…) and the whole city of in a state of exeption – that definitely was a strange experience, especially since I got on the train and arrived in Berlin and Berlin mostly was like: “Oh boy! The S-Bahn isn’t going as it should!”


What did you do?

The Theaterkind facebook page is only 3 away from 100 likes! Can we make it? That’d be AWESOME. :)

Have a great new week!