Month: March 2014

Music Monday … Fly, Fly Away

I just recently thought about songs with verbs/words of movement in them (is this a weird thing to admit?) such as On My Way (Violet), Travel Song (Shrek) and….Fly, Fly Way from Catch Me If You Can. Back then I suddenly remembered that video I used to be obsessed with. It’s Alex Ellis, the Brenda-understudy from the Broadway production, performing that song and I think she is actually brilliant. Something about her acting gets me everytime I watch this and I like how clear her voice is. I kind of even prefer that version to the original Broadway cast recording one sung by Kerry Butler.

What do you think?

What are listening to today?

Advertisements

On My Way

Folks, I’m too excited! Only six months and two days after my first trip to NYC I have the amazing opportunity to go back already!

(Thanks to my AMAZING Mama here!)

I’ll spend the next 9 (10) days over there in this amazing city (I’ll be happy to read any recommendations of you – especially when it comes to eating for eating-autists like I am. Salads? Juices? Smoothies? But also: Record stores, book stores and stuff like that), but I of course also will see theatre. And this is what I’m even more excited for than the city alone.

Last time I went I we saw 7 shows/plays plus a concert: Once, Big Fish, First Date, Newsies, Pippin, Fetch Clay Make Man and Matilda.

This time I have planned a whole lot more and I hope my girls (Mama and my sister) won’t be suffering from a kind of theatre overkill. Especially since this spring on Broadway is very interesting, I’m happy to be able to fly over once more.
The shows I’ve planned to see and write about (so you folks are going to be able to read about them) are in this order:
Beautiful
The Bridges of Madison County
If/Then
Les Miserables
Jasper in Deadland (Off Broadway)
Violet
Bullets over Broadway
Once (once more, because…..it’s just Once)

We are also going to see Aaron Lazar’s concert at 54below on April 2nd which also is the day where I might try to get into Rocky for the matinee. And we kept the last night free for us to each go and see the show again which we liked the most (and which has tickets avaliable). We are also splitting up to see different shows Sunday afternoon – while I go uptown to see Ryan Scott Oliver and Hunter Foster’s Jasper in Deadland, my girls are going to see Matilda, since my sister loves children and the movie and that pretty much makes it the perfect show for her.

So, keep your eyes open if you’re interested in Broadway thoughts over here!

Music Monday … Lucy’s Laugh

I just recently re-discovered this song by Kooman and Dimond (because I needed to decide fast what I wanted to listen to on my bike the other day) and while Kooman and Dimond’s album “Out of Our Heads” was playing and I was biking suddenly this song came on and I remembered how much I used to love it.

Because: Don’t we all have a little quite random thing we love about a person?

What’s the most random thing you’ve ever liked about a person?

What are you listening to today?

My Week #30, Mar 18th – 23rd

what I saw
Gypsy at the Red Rose Club, directed by Martin G. Berger. For my thoughts on that clicke here: Thoughts.
Super Night Shot, Gob Squad, HAU 1, a little (rather) cool.
Iphigenie auf Tauris, directed by Barrie Kosky
Ohne Titel Nr. 1, (directed) by Herbert Fritsch, Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg Platz

what I read    
my lovely friend S. gave me a book for my birthday. Glücklich die Glücklichen by Yasmina Reza, I’m not too far in, but….

what I listened to
Big Fish, Violet and recently I returned to Bonnie & Clyde because I’m waiting for the Artus recording from St. Gallen.

what I did
I finished my Hebrew class and I liked it (if anyone for you is reading this: today at the gym there was a girl in front of me with לקוות tatoo-ed to her neck), I worked and went to see stuff in theatres and yesterday I got all messed by from my excitement to go to NYC next week!

Gypsy in Her ‘Natural’ Surroundings

I had been a little worried that I wouldn’t find the Red Rose Club. Turns out: You couldn’t miss it, because: RED LIGHT! 🙂

Anyways, when I arrived it was exactly 7:30pm (which was caused by a lack of ATMs around the venue) and director of the production, Martin G. Berger, stands half outside half inside. Well, you rushed here, right?, he said while I was locking my bike.
He looks a little bit like the pimp’s little brother in these surroundings.

I run up the few stairs, pick up my ticket and get rid of my jacket. I take a few steps into the room and find a spare seat – since I’m one of the last ones to arrive the place is already jam-packed. The bartender is an old fashionly dressed woman who looks kind of like what I’ve always imagined a mama of a drag club to look like.

I begin to sweat – people who ride their bikes everywhere might know this, you’re not sweating right away but a few minutes after to actually arrived at your destination – and I wonder a) if other people will notice and b) if they’ll think I’m embarrassed by the environment.
And then I wonder – who else of my fellow audience members also is a whorehouse-first-timer? I recognize the faces of three other audience members and I remember the pianist from Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (next question: It looks like Bijan (Azadian, the conductor and pianist) isn’t wearing any pants – is he wearing pants? – Yes, he was). Anyways, in addition to the audience there are five girls, dressed like the prostitutes you can spot around special locations in the city…they do a little bit of small talk and from time to time they take someone downstairs to – as I will experience myself during the show – watch video interviews with ‘real’ prostitutes working in these very rooms we sat and watched the videos. I – as a single visitor – am ignored for quite some time, I am looking around, listening to what the two musicians are playing and watching the slides on the various flat screens promoting the girls working there.

Suddenly I hear a very soft singing. Those five girls are whispering ‘Let me entertain you’ in the ears of those whom they were talking to just seconds ago. It’s kind of exclusively for those near these girls. I sit very close to one but nonetheless the sound only creeps into my ears. Then Louise enters, talking about her job, being a stripper.

I didn’t know Gypsy beforehand (I know, what a shame!) and I had definitely to do some research afterwards. I remember reading castlists much longer than this one: Three people playing three characters (plus the girls) – Mama Rose, Louise and Herbie. Of course things, songs, were cut and some plotlines we only got to know through what the characters told us – which gave this whole story a very interesting turn of un-credibility, especially since we learned right in the beginning that Rose, but also Louise are not the most sane people you could imagine. We are taken on a bumpy road trip into this story with contemporary changes about talent shows (the in Germany rather well known Dieter Bohlen who became famous for the insulting statements he made as a judge on the German version of American Idol) and a letter about the current situation of sex-workers and prostitutes by Alice Schwarzer et. al. In short: In this very authentic (which we can only assume, because we actually don’t know if it’s REALLY a whorehouse or just a very well played trick…) location, we get a story which kind of is very well fitting into this setting.

And we as the audience are very close to what happens. The sound of the tapping right in front of me actually hurts my ears, when the Herbie fell right in front of me I was wondering (for only a second) if it had been my leg sticking in his way that made him fall, and more to the end Rose sings and sings and get angry and angrier and suddenly grabs my face, singing directly into my face. We get a sense of what happens and not only that, but we get to feel it. Someone falls and he grabs the knee of an audience member. The beginning looks exactly like something you could imagine as a ‘regular’ bar fight.

What I’m trying to state here: In this production we don’t get a steady idea of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’ (heavy duty words over here, uh?). Every time after a unsual event (the mother getting crazy, tieing Herbie to the pole – by the way, this production also features one of the most impressive (loudest) exclamtion of the German word Stripstange which sounds hilarious and means pole) they put up the façade of people working and having a business to keep up to. They do weird stuff and then get their act together again, cleaning the bar, reciting Dieter Bohlen’s meanest statements.

We get as bi-polar as they are. We watch them in a way we watch other peoples’ drama in bars and we get sucked in as kind of voyeurs and that is what makes it so irresistable. And this construction somehow works even though we know they are actors, singers, people pretending to be other people, all the time – that’s out of question from the moment Nini Stadlmann (who, by the way, is great) as Louise tells us to ask her Mama for drinks.

We can’t get out because –  even if we wanted to – they are so ‘in our faces’ all the time.

Some words about the three people playing the three main characters: yes, Yes, YES! The already mentioned Nini Stadlmann, Katja Brauneis and Franz Frickel were great and ecstatic and – again – they totally made their characters fit into this location.

All these turns and cuts and additions made this production somehow relevant to society, and also to the kind of weird society we are stuck with in Berlin.

And I am very much into theatre productions that are relevant to a kind of reality of life.
And even more into those also being musical productions.
Because somehow you don’t see them very often.
That’s why you gotta love them more.

For some hard facts about the cast and creative team head over to Musicalzentrale or the production company’s website.

Sisterhood. On “Schwestern im Geiste”, Neuköllner Oper

To start off: I like Judith Butler. I read my fair share of gender theories. Around age 20, 21 I wore my hair in a rather short cut, feminist stuff.

Basically that is why I was excited about the latest musical of the UdK musical/show programme. Their third year has 7 female and 2 male students – which is challenging when thinking about creating a musical especially for them. Peter Lund and the students chose a rather interesting situation: telling part of the story of the Brontë sisters and combining it with three ‘modern’ female characters (like: the Brontës’ today’s equivalents). Okay, so far, so good.

After most of the UdK musicals focused more on the male characters (e.g. with Stimmen im Kopf it was the issue that during the exposition the female characters took action only to give the male characters a better, glamorous entrace – nonetheless the statement was rather gender-independent), I really wanted to like a piece mostly about women.

But let me state something: It wasn’t so much about women.

While we see the historical storyline evolving around the ‘real’ lives of the sisters, their brother, their maid and assistant reverent Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte’s future husband, the today’s storyline focusses a liture class in high school. Two students and a teacher more or less ‘fighting’ their ways through the Brontë-chapter of the curriculum. Obviously the teacher is driven by her own fondness of the Brontë-sisters as women being ahead of their times – which soon makes the unruly of her students, Milly (who has a difficult family backstory, an alcoholic mother and a not really present father), speak up to her and call her a lesbian.
And guess what?
Yes, she REALLY is a lesbian. (that HAS to be THE thing of an educated women teaching about women in literature and women ahead of their time. How could I forget?) Well, since Milly struggles with her grades and probably won’t be able to graduate, she starts a little fling with her teacher and afterwards blackmails her to get through finals – in the end she doesn’t even take the finals because she finally realized high school graduation isn’t for her. Regarding the other student, Aylin, a headscarf wearing kid of Turkish immigrants – she’s smart and hardworking, but her family wants her to marry her cousin (who might look a little bit like Matt Damon) shortly before the graduation so that she won’t be able to take her finals. She – opposite to Milly – comes back in the end to take her exam because her cousin seems to have more understanding of how important the graduation is to her.

In the historic storyline we learn about class distinction (the maid Tabby’s got a thing going with Mr. Nicholls!), not having enough money, loads of writing and a almost always drunk brother, but we also see three sisters who think about morals very different from each other (what I guess is an interesting point and made them centre of this musical in the first place). Anne, the youngest, is really into this whole marriage-love-thing, while Emily is just an unruly female interested much more in nature than in regular (these times) ‘female stuff’ and Charlotte is a rather opaque character – rumours even say that she might as well had been a lesbian back when – and marries Mr. Nicholls after all of her siblings died.

Okay, the plot seems quite understandable, but what bothers me the most is, that although male power is pretty much not shown throughout the show (the two male characters might have some kind of power as male parts of society, but they don’t have any power as characters per se) – there is a general power of men shown/sensable. Most obvious with Aylin’s story (of course, because that’s what the cliché says…), but also with Milly (the father who is or is not there, from time to time..best part of the dialogue: “I want to talk to your parents!” – “As if my father was interested!” – “Then your mother!” – you see what happend here?) and with Lotte, the teacher, as some kind of power which made her decide to be gay or not (and of course on a different level as some kind of male hegemony she tries to deny with being gay but also can’t because….men.).

More than once it is mentioned (in both storylines), that we all (but also: women, because they told us in the first place) live to be loved (by a man). In the second act Lotte comments on a scene like this from the historic storyline (“Bullshit!”), just in order to be made look stupid by Milly seconds later. Well played, well played.

Anyways…just to comclude my rambling about the piece itself: What could have been a very powerful piece for women (both on and off stage, for those performing and those watching) just isn’t. Plus for me it also has the problem that in half of the plot (the today-part) the characters aren’t able to interact singing-wise. So we get one introspective song after song after song (and I have the feeling that it kind of was the same with the other storyline).

But know to the things I really liked. First of all: The music. I liked how it was slightly different from most of the things I’ve heard of Thomas Zaufke, both other UdK musicals and at my ‘old home’ GRIPS Theater. Sadly I can’t say much more about the music (expect for: I liked it), because I am not an educated musician or musicologist and I was too busy having my feminist issues with the plot. But I remeber liking the song about Angria a lot. It gave the whole part (and the siblings) new dynamics and finally gave the more or less rigid characters a reason to move.
Another smart move was giving Branwell so many high notes to sing, because that’s basically what I imaginge a brother of three strong sisters doing…. 🙂

I also really liked the set – it was like a weird shaped half pipe, the downer part mostly black with some words written on them, the number of them increasing with the height, finally making the whole upper part white – which made it also look like mountains or wild water (they are going to Angria by ship). With the wild water association also came one of my favourite scenes – the death of (YES! a male character) Branwell Brontë who really died of a combination of Bronchitis and kidney failure (due to high alcohol consumption). It looked as if he’d drown in the wild waves of the set, fighting them, being thrown back by them. And this is – at least partly – what actually happenend to him: He drowned in alcohol.

And lastly: I always like going to these things because I like to see how young performers are educated. Basically it is because my education is so different from their, but we all (want to) do theatre – so it’s always great to see what they do when they are still in school. This year is also the first year when the thought hit me about their ages; they are around my age and not like “adult performers” (that was what I saw them as when I first started to go see these UdK productions back with Leben ohne Chris). Anyways – they conquered their piece rather gracefully. My personal stand-outs were Dalma Viczina as Emily, Theresa Scherhag’s fierce acting as teacher Lotte (much older than she actually is, and NO, I didn’t like it because it might have been the most feminist performance. No. I already saw from her performance at the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang finals that she can be a strong actress) and Sabrina Reischl’s comedic talent and timing as Tabby. But for all of them I can only say: I’m very excited to see it again when they’ll revive the show (which they usually do) and to see how much they’ve grown both performing wise and into their characters.

I’m going to end with a little anecdote about fellow audience members: Right in front of me and on my left side sat a couple of older people. They very openly laughed about every “mufti”- and cliché joke about immigrants and froze to solid ice when Milly and Lotte kissed in the last seconds of the first half. Well, even in a city like Berlin and even in a theatre as the Neuköllner Oper you get weird last century audience.

Please, people, read Judith Butler.
Or Alice Schwarzer.
Or something.

For more information about the cast and creative team head over to the website of Neuköllner Oper.

Music Monday … Ring of Keys

Last week a CD I eagerly waited for arrived with the mail. It’s the recording of Fun Home, the latest work of Jeanine Tesori which also is a collaboration with Lisa Kron based on the ‘graphic memoir’ by Alison Bechdel. Basically most of the message boards are full of people raving about the show which closed off Broadway on Jan 12th after three extentions (if I remeber correctly). There are quite a few great songs that are very nice to listen to – especially these kind of naive, playfull but at the same time very serious (lyric-wise) songs that Small Alison (Sydney Lucas) sings.

But the one that stole my heart and found its way into my ear (permanently….right, it’s stuck there) is Ring of Keys. First: That girl’s performance is great in my honest opinion. Second: That description of that lady, butch, delievery worker is so amazing – childlike and yet rather grown-up.

I’m a big fan! Let me know what you think.

Ring of Keys on Soundcloud

And lastly: What are you listening to today?

My Week #29, Mar 10th – 17th

what I saw
Schwestern im Geiste by Thomas Zaufke and Peter Lund and the 3rd-year-students of UdK (thoughts on that coming soon!)
Dawn at HAU 3 (technically I haven’t seen it yet, gonna be there tonight)

what I read    
I read some small episodes from the Hebrew bible. And some other Hebrew texts.

what I listened to
on Thursday the recording of Fun Home came in the mail. And that’s basically what I’ve been listening to since then. Before there was some Violet (again that and Fun Home are by the same composer, btw) and some more Drew Gasparini.

what I did
I started a new Hebrew class. It basically is a two week intensive class, five days a week from 10am – 1pm. And I have super much fun speaking Hebrew again. Finally. On Tuesday my new mattress was delivered and a friend from high school came over. Basically this was a social week – I met four different friends for coffee or an afternoon snack or a post-work-tea. The weather is at least kind of great so I enjoyed running in the mornings and riding my bike to class across the city.

Music Monday … Avalanche

This is a totally fake Music Monday, because basically: It isn’t Monday. Yesterday there were so many things going on (I’m back to Hebrew class for the next two weeks! Every day from 10am to 1pm) – and then I had to take my mattress off of my bunk bed since it got picked up today and I got my new one.
Okay, let’s see what I got int he wings for our belated Music Monday this week.

I just recently returned to an ‘old’ favourite song of mine. I first heard Avalanche when I bought the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk-CD “Live”, which I also featured in my post about my top 5 musical (theatre) recordings of 2013. And I mean – Lindsay Mendez is worth every single listen you give.
It’s a totally gorgeous song, it has its drama and its long notes and everything you desire. You can totally feel it moving and falling and can we just take a minute to talk about her performance which is unreal?!

What was your song for the beginning of the week?

I’d be thrilled to read about it. 🙂

 

My Week #28, Mar 3rd – 9th

what I saw
Robert Wilson/Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach
Jeremy Wade: Together Forever
Alain Platel: tauberbach

what I read    
I wish.

what I listened to
some here some there, I was intrigued by Peter Schmid’s latest Youtube post, check it out here: Another Day, Another Time. And Einstein on the Beach really made I Feel the Earth Move stuck in my head. And I really got caught again by Drew Gasparini’s I Could Use a Drink (“A little bit” is the song regularly playing in my head while running…for an hours, for one and a half hours…whatever) and Violet.

what I did
I changed my mobile phone plan provider (whatever you call this) and I celebrated the international Women’s Day with a kinda nice 13.4k run (It was nice for the first 12k, but the last one REALLY sucked) – but nonetheless I really want, that one day every woman on earth knows that she can be strong, physically and mentally (says the weird one with no heavy duty lifting muscles…).  And as I put it when I was talking with a friend: I’m back into the relationship with my on-off-on-off-on-off-boyfriend Hebrew. I signed up for an intensive class starting tomorrow. Level B2. Let’s see, grammar-wise it shouldn’t be a problem, but – oh, Lord! – the words….