Special Day

A short thing on why May 27th was a very special day for me

On May 27th an era kind of came to an end. I saved a 85 pages Word-Document as a PDF file, hit the copyshop and printed it out five times, had it bound and took it home. There I put three of the copies in an envelope, put the address of my university on there and got it ready to take to Leipzig the next day.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my Master thesis.
It’s finished.
It’s dropped off at the Prüfungsbüro.

Now the era of not thinking about sex and musicals and feminism in musicals all day every day begins!

On Friday I took my mother to see my friend Eric Lee Johnson for his solo show debut at a small and very charming theatre in Berlin Schöneberg. I remember when we last got together for a coffee Eric told me he might sing a song by Marc Schubring that I translated for a student of his earlier this year (which marked the first time someone asked me to translate something). To be honest I was all ike: Yeah, let him talk – and let’s see if that REALLY happens. (sorry, Eric…)

Then last Friday I met a mutual friend of ours and she was like “You know, he’s gonna sing “Completely Different” – and Marc’s gonna be here!”. And then that’s what happened.

As I’m still in the very beginning of my translating it’s VERY exciting to hear my German words being sung by people who aren’t me torturing my neighbours with endless shouting and trying to be a soprano or a tenor… Only when someone that isn’t me sings those German words I can listen to it as a dramaturg and judge it the way I would do translations by others and that’s not only very productive, but also a rather healthy thing to do.

And last week’s Friday Eric sung those words and it was the first time ever someone sung a translation of mine without me being in the back producing it, organizing it, putting together musical rehearsals or trying to make everybody feel comfortable about the lack of said rehearsals…and it was A MA ZING!

Thank you, Eric!
And thank you, Marc, for the music that works so well (I think) with German!

That special Friday was more than a week ago today, but I’m still mesmerized and I’m sure I’m gonna treasure that day for a while longer. 😉 Even and especially after I’ve graduated from my current MA programme and I’ll be an unemployed dramaturg.

But before that will be the case my classmates are organizing a festival in Leipzig – and they need money, because – let’s be honest here – who doesn’t? We’ve 11 more days of startnext crowdfunding left, and honestly I think everyone should be wanting to be part of the funding crowd for a dramaturgy-festival. Who has ever seen such a thing?

Wanna help? Head over to: https://www.startnext.com/INTROLeipzig




Why blogging isn’t on top of my priority-list right now….

Folks…I might or might not have noticed posts have not been coming very frequently over here. There are various reasons, but only one of them is really interesting.

As of this week I started my second take on grad school, not in my home- and most recent town of studies, Berlin, but in Leipzig, about an 1-hour-highspeed-train-ride south from there. Earlier this summer I had been accepted to the Master’s dramaturgy programme, so as far as I can see I’ll be some kind of dramaturg in two year’s time. (this is so illusional, but still…). However I didn’t move to Leipzig but stayed in Berlin, because I have good work there, I have contacts and even though I keep complaining about the musical theatre community in Germany – in Berlin we probably are the closest to what that could mean in Germany. Plus I live in this fabulous living arrangement with my mother and can afford an one year unlimited pass to Deutsche Bahn.

Now I’m officially a commuter. As I am typing this I am on the train to Leipzig and I must say: I enjoy the trainrides. I always have.

However, now that I’m adjusting to my new schedule, my new workload and basically a new way of living, blogpost haven’t been coming that regularily and will continue to do so. I’ll try my best to keep up, but I can’t promise anything.

Just take this as a short “hi” from me. And the train. And Leipzig.
Read you soon, guys!

Theatre Studies, Dance Studies and Musical Theatre?

How does that even go together and why would I even bother to ask?

As those of you who read the “about” Page of this blog might know – I just earned my BA’s degree in theatre studies (well, technically not yet…because somehow my thesis takes loooooong to read and grade and everything) after three years of diving into the discours about performativity and gender and participation and stuff (now that I’m thinking about it, that’s basically what I did for three years….but it’s great).

Back when I decided I wanted to earn my BA in theatre studies I already loved musical theatre of any kind, because I’ve always loved it as a child and I just had been working with Komische Oper Berlin for pretty much all the season on and off – but in my departement musical theatre was barely to never talked about and there were some dialogues happening like the following:

Classmate (third year of BA studies): “I’ve never been to the opera!”
Theaterkind: “Really?”
Classmate: “No, I don’t even know…do they have an avantgarde or something?”

And that was it. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. That’s like one of the poorest things (if not: the absolute poorest thing ever!) for a theatre studies major to say. That was over a year ago and I’m still not over it – if the one who said that can still remember that dialogue and is reading it: You have me scarred for life. 🙂

This past spring I wrote a paper about gender theories and Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, which in its early version (known as Leonore) is one of my all time favourites. Sadly it either was too bad or my teacher really didn’t like musical theatre. Or a combination of both. Anyways. I still love musical theatre and I’m still pretty proud of that paper.

Since I haven’t that much knowledge of musical theory (really, my ears are like very, very badly trained) I’ll never be able to study something like musicology and to be honest, my intrest is definetly the theatrical side of music. So I after my BA studies I went on and enrolled in the Master’s programme of dance studies which is offered at my school because I really wanted to stay at “my” department (I also work there, so….) and I really liked the thought of studying the different parts of musical theatre on their own. As I already mentioned I was very occupied by gender- and body-theories during my BA studies and that was another reason to move on to the dance studies. How do we actually see those bodies on stage is one of the most integral questions I ask myself about theatre – and when I watched Philipp Büttner perform “Sex is in the Heel” from Kinky Boots in early December I was (again) proven that this is actually an interesting question, even (or: especially) in musical theatre which seems to be so superficial and like “a woman is a woman and a man is a man” on so many occasions if you don’t look close enough. (check out his performance!) An other occasion was when I saw Once last September – that was when I learned a ton about musical theatre and dance. And dancing in musical theatre! (I just recently wrote a text about dacing in the scene of “Gold” in Once the Musical for a class about writing about dance, it’s mostly German and I’m sure I can’t translate it, but I think I might post it here some time soon anyways – a treat for my German speaking readers)

Now I’m applying for several dramaturgy programmes and right now I kind of really want to go to a school which is mostly dedicated to dramatic arts as in (straight) plays. They mostly have acting and directing (as in “I go and direct a text that’s already existing”) programmes. Of course there are some schools all over the country teaching dramaturgy for musical theatre, but in my situation right now it would be a) good for me to stay in Berlin because I’m rather engaged with work here and this drama-focused school happens to be in Berlin and b) learning another take on theatre would be great (plus I’m used to working on music stuff on my own, so there wouldn’t be much change…). What I got to know during my BA studies is very different from the things I’m sure I’ll be confronted with when I’ll work as a dramaturg – and after all that’s what I want to do one day. And I also think that learning about plays and how to work with that can be actually productive when working with musical theatre. As much as the differences are stressed over and over again I think they’re pretty much two sides of the same coin. I mean it’s theatre! Of course, music gives us a huge hint of what “the author” (what ever that is…) actually meant, but is theatre about what an author (could have) meant? I mean, really?

Isn’t it about new ways to interpret something? And after all that’s the same with plays or musical theatre pieces. It’s about listening to what the piece tells you and what you can tell the piece. Text-wise or music-wise.

So, let’s just listen, okay? Let’s just think about what we can give back to the theatre, how we could make it our own, okay?
Let’s think about it and create something new out of us and the material. Can we agree on that?

What do you love most about theatre? I’d love to hear about it!

Theatergeburtstag // Theatrical Birth

(since this is a post corresponding with a German blogger initiative there will be the German post first, and English one can be found below)

Tanja Praske hat in ihrem Blog zu einer Blogparade unter dem Motto “Mein faszinierendes Kulturerlebnis” aufgerufen. Und da das hier ein Blog ist, der sich mit Kultur – primär mit Theater – beschäftigt, ist das quasi genau mein Thema. Zuerst einmal: Danke, Tanja, für diesen Input!

Seit ich diese Aktion gesehen habe, habe ich natürlich darüber nachgedacht, was mein (ultimativ)faszinierendes Kulturerlebnis gewesen sein könnte. Meine erste Begegnung mit Bildern des Malers Caravaggio in einer Kirche in Valetta, Malta? Der Blick auf die Altstadt von Jerusalem vom Ölberg aus? Oder mehr Theater: Meine Theaterbesuche am Broadway vergagenen Monat? Barrie Koskys Inszenierung von Rusalka? Eine Videoinstallation zu Kurtags Kafka-Fragmenten? Meg Stuarts Built to last? Aber dann ist mir aufgefallen, dass ich all diese Sachen nicht gesehen hätte, wäre nicht etwas ganz bestimmtes in meinem Leben passiert, was inzwischen etwa sechseinhalb Jahre her ist. Damals lernte ich nämlich Tobias Rausch, Ilka Rümke und Jan Linders kennen, als ich nach einem in der Mitgliederzeitschrift der DGhK veröffentlichten Aufruf zum ‘Casting’ für das Performanceprojekt highQ – Gehirne in Hochgeschwindigkeit besetzt wurde. Das war mein einziger Ausflug als Performerin und damit bin ich sehr glücklich, denn eigentlich habe ich da gelernt ins Theater zu gehen und darüber zu sprechen.

Ich war damals 16 Jahre alt, in der 11. Klasse und verwirrt, weil die meisten meiner Klassenkameraden 18 waren und ‘erwachsen’ und Party machten. Bei highQ war ich untern den Performenden zur Abwechslung mal die älteste, der jüngste von uns war zu dem Zeitpunkt erst 8 oder 9. Zusammen haben wir in unseren Proben viel Blödsinn gemacht und waren kreativ (manchmal zu viel, manchmal zu wenig – ich erinnere mich daran wie Tobias uns Jugendliche mal dazu zwang ein Sonnett zu schreiben, das sich eben durch strenge formale Vorgaben auszeichnet. Ich bin selten so grandios gescheiert!). Und vor allem sind wir mehrmals gemeinsam ins Theater gegangen. Rückblickend ist mir das (und vieles aus der Zeit) ein bisschen peinlich, wie naiv ich und wie wenig ich über Theater wusste, aber das ist nun mal so. In meiner Erinnerung ist es so, dass irgendwann angefangen habe, auch etwas mehr ins Theater zu gehen, zuerst war das eher so ein “mitgehen” mit den Erwachsenen, großen Theaterleuten, später bin ich dann auch alleine gegangen. Sie haben mich wie selbstverständlich gefragt, wie es bestimmte Dinge an Aufführungen fand und was ich generell sagen würde. Dadurch habe ich für mich sehr schnell einen Weg gefunden, über Aufführungen und Theatererlebnisse zu sprechen, gerade dieses Sprechen spielt heute (und wird hoffentlich in meinem ganzen weiteren Leben) eine große Rolle für mich: Über Theater sprechen ist nicht nur eine Grundvoraussetzung für die theaterwissenschaftliche Aufführungsanalyse, sondern hat auch für mich privat in den darauffolgenden Jahren eine große Rolle gespielt. (weil: wer über Theater reflektieren und sprechen kann, kann das auch über andere Dinge…)

Ohne diese Erfahrung hätte ich in diesem Sommer nicht meine Bachelorarbeit in Theaterwissenschaft geschrieben, ich hätte mir nicht mit 16 in den Kopf gesetzt Dramaturgin zu werden. Gleichzeitig hätte ich natürlich Tobias nie kennen gelernt und hätte nie in der vorletzten Spielzeit mit ihm arbeiten können, als ich nämlich Interviews für die Produktion “Felix Krull und seine Erben” am Theater Kiel führen durfte.


Tanja Praske asked on her blog for posts dealing with a fascinating cultural experience in ones life – and since this is a blog about culture, mostly theatre, it seemed to be my topic! So first of all, thank you, Tanja, for asking.

I read about that initiative a few days ago and since then I was thinking about what I could consider to be my (most) fascinating thing I experienced in the arts. My first encounter with the paintings of Caravaggio in that church in Valetta, Malta? The view over the OId City of Jerusalem from Mount of Olive? Or to be more theatrical: My visit to Broadway last month? Barrie Kosky‘s production of Rusalka? That video-installation of Kurtag’s Kafka-Fragments? Meg Stuart‘s Built to last? But then I realized that most of these thing wouln’t even have happenend to me if something very special hadn’t happened in my life. About six and a half years ago I got to know Tobias Rausch, Ilka Rümke and Jan Linders at an audition I attended after reading about it in the magazine of the German association for gifted children. After all I got cast in a performance called “highQ – Gehirne in Hochgeschwindigkeit” (“highQ – high-speed brains”) – which was my only appearance as a performer and that’s more than okay because basically that was when I learned to speak about theatre.

Back then I was 16, in 11th grade and confused – most of my classmates were 18 and of age and partying every weekend. At highQ I was the oldest of us performers, the youngest was only 8 or 9 at that time. We did a lot of nonsense at rehearsal and we were creative (sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much I remember my failed attempt to write a sonnett with all these formal restrictions once) and we also went to see some performances together. Looking back today it’s almost a little embarrassing how naive I was and how little I knew about theatre, but that’s how life works. I remember that as the time when I starting to go and see performances – at first I only went with somebody, then I started going on my own – just as I do today. Naturally the older, ‘grown up’ theatrepoeple would always ask me what I thought about certain scenes or the performance in general. Due to that I soon learned how to talk about performances and this way of talking has been very important to me ever since. Not only is talking about what you see in theatres very important to performance analysis just as we do it in the theatre studies, but also to me personally. If you can reflect and talk about theatrical performances you can also do that with other events in your life.

Without that experience I never would have written my BA thesis in theatre studies this past summer and I hadn’t decided to become a dramaturg one day when I was 16. At the same time I never would have met Tobias and never would have had the chance to work with him again second to last season when I was a interviewer for his production “Felix Krull und seine Erben” at Theater Kiel.