Live-Blog: a heated talkback with audience after the second performance of Verrücktes Blut (Mad Blood), Ballhaus Naunynstraße. Related: the tt-Blog Verrücktes Blut Kritik (German) and the “post-migrant theatre” lexicon (English).
22:21 We’re in the theater! Still gathering some chairs and actors…
22:22 Introducing the line-up. It includes Shermin Langhoff (Artistic Director), Nurkan Erpulat (playwright), Franz Wille (Theatertreffen jury member).
22:24 “Would be hard to explain why you wouldn’t invite this play.” Franz Wille, Theatertreffen jury member
22:26 Wille’s talking about theater as a center for debate. I’d like to invite anybody who’s on Twitter and wants to join in the conversation right now to tweet at me: use the hashtag #tt11.
22:27 Artistic Director Shermin Langhoff on the definition of post-migrant theater: she’s been asked this a lot. About why it was important to come up with this definition at all:
- Inspiration: Berlin’s (and Germany’s) incredible diversity
- Felt that this diversity was visible in other media (film, novels) but not yet in theater
- Defining a term helps create visibility and potential for financial/cultural support
22:32 Nurkan Erpulat (Verrücktes Blut playwright) says: sometimes people think this is a play for youth! But it’s actually for the educated middle class.
22:35 Reminding us of the play’s origins as a French film. I always find this fact fascinating, because the story of Verrücktes Blut is so very German (Schiller and all), and it’s hard to imagine it without that element.
22:40 Wille: “I’m the specialist in stupid questions.”
22:41 From the question about how Schiller was incorporated into the play, dramaturg Jens Hillje’s talking about the process through which Verrücktes Blut was developed: a process of improvisation, co-inspiration, ensemble work.
22:42 Somebody in the front row wants to see Hillje’s pretty face! Help us pay attention, talk-backers. Volume, face forward, all those things your high school drama teacher told you.
22:44 Now Sesede Terziyan is talking and she’s plenty loud. She’s an actress, after all…
22:45 On to the Kopftuch (head scarf) scene.
22:46 Nora Abdel-Maksoud (her character takes off her head scarf at a climactic moment in the play, at gunpoint): Says at the beginning of the creation process, it wasn’t clear if she’d take the scarf off or not. When it was later decided she would, it hit her really hard; she didn’t want to do it. But as the play continued to take shape, she accepted the idea.
22:51 Shermin Langhoff: “Not every woman who wears a head scarf is ‘not emancipated.'” (And vice versa!)
22:52 Question from the audience: has this ever been played for young people and what was the reaction? (Answer: Yes, just twice. Also, the Ballhaus has turned down invitations to “youth theater” festivals because it is, once again, NOT a play for youth; and the students in the play are not meant to be read as “THE youth.”)
22:57 Audience member: “This was extreme ‘representative’ theater.” Wille: “Absolutely – the actors are playing roles, after all. What I meant was is that this is theater that knows why it’s telling the story it’s telling.”
22:58 Oooh, things are getting heated. Does the play help to work against or for the constraints of “political correctness”? Does its presentation of stereotypes support them or help work against them?
23:00 Question for readers: what do you think of “political correctness”? Is it dangerous? Should we be trying to work against it, and what’s the best way to do that?
23:02 Teacher in the audience, from Romania: felt that she was “in a classroom” the whole time. Didn’t experience anything new.
23:03 Erpulat: “I’m not trying to talk about the problem of immigration or integration. The play is about problems in general – doesn’t matter what problem. Any problem. How do we START to solve ANY problem?”
- Audience member: It was way too didactic. And this conversation right now is also too didactic.
- Erpulat: That’s right. I wanted to be didactic.
23:06 Oh, now we’re differentiating between dialektisch and didaktisch. This may be getting too theoretisch for my German at this late hour…
23:07 Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
23:10 Now we’re dividing our audience into a couple of categories. 1) The ones who like didacticism. 2) The ones who can’t stand it. 3) The ones we haven’t heard from yet because categories 1 and 2 are shouting too loud.
23:11 One of the actors on the very first audience response, at the premiere: the surprise, the gift of the audience laughing. And learning later that the laughter changes based on the place and audience.
23:14 Langhoff says: I experience everywhere extremely, extremely complex political positions and theories. Really everywhere, in theaters, at universities, many people with incredibly complex political positions and beliefs. And in the end, they are all tautological.
23:15-23:31 who is your audience why are you doing this what is your necessity how do we start talking about problems what is your life story could you please allow someone else to ask questions why are you all worked up our audience demographic has changed the story of your life is much realer than this play but this play is real I don’t mind being didactic I think that’s really a shame
23:22 One runaway success wasn’t enough; Langhoff just invented a new term: post-authentisch.
23:25 Who would Ballhaus like to play for as opposed to who they are currently playing for? (Influenced by success with festivals, press, etc.)
23:27 Langhoff: It may be didactic, but it’s also new. As an audience member I experience something new from the play.
23:30 The audience wants to know how the play could have been less didactic. The panel onstage wants to know what’s wrong with didactic. I want to know how we can stop talking about didacticism.
23:31 Wille: “I’ve got the feeling this discussion has gone a little bit…askew.” Which means it’s time to go drink a beer. Thanks for following!
23:34 Though we REALLY end with this, from Erpulat: “Anyone who wants to, we can keep discussing.”