Plagiacriticism: German Theatre through English Eyes

Our favorite guest blogger, Dr. Herr Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is back – this time, with a critique of German theatre in general.

German theatre seems to wax and wane in unpredictable patterns – almost as difficult to keep track of as varieties of German sausageNo paparazzi photographing C-list celebrities, no hysterical standing ovations, no mobile phones suddenly going off: simply a well-dressed, middle-aged, bourgeois audience enjoying all the on-stage nudity, sex and graphic violence to which it is accustomed. After all, most theater directors in German-speaking Europe concern themselves with the restaging of classic plays. No wonder that German audiences have developed a taste for audacious plays, and that young German writers are far more adventuresome with form. German audiences can’t be shocked any longer.

German actors look a bit more like the rest of us they do a lot of shouting normally, and sometimes even hit the bottle onstage. Design is a major part of German theatre. And it is taken to extraordinary lengths. Seems like Germans will go almost as far for an elaborate set design as they would for a boot of beer. They’ll wrap all the actors in cling film and swing them from the ceiling on meat hooks, take out all your text and add in new text by Michel Houellebecq.

In the notorious, lavishly financed, postmodern German theater, adaptation and appropriation are the sincerest forms of flattery — which I personally find to be the most fabulous thing about it of all.

Editor’s Note: One of the subplots of Season Two of the Canadian television series Slings and Arrows offers a hilarious look at the stereotyping of German theater in the English-speaking world through the character of Darren Nicholson, a Canadian director who spends a season in Germany and comes back a changed man. He spends most of the season directing Romeo and Juliet with a „German“ concept – only to have a change of heart (worth checking out if only for the show’s version of „German“ costumes and set design). [C.T.]


Cory Tamler, 1986 in Berkeley geboren, stammt aus Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania und wohnt in Berlin. Sie arbeitet als freie Autorin, Regisseurin und Bloggerin und zählt zu den Fulbright-Stipendiaten des Jahrgangs 2010/2011. Sie untersucht „Globalisierung auf Berliner Bühnen“. Ihre Theaterstücke wurden in Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York State und Augsburg aufgeführt.

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