During Friday night’s discussion in HAU 2, a panel of performance artists, artistic directors, dancers, and cultural politicians debated the state of the “free theater scene” in Germany. On the table were financial infrastructure, artistic freedom, audience development, interaction of the free scene with state-funded theater, political lobbying and more. Here’s my problem with the problems: in searching for answers, Germany isn’t looking any farther than its own backyard.
We’ve already taken a look on this blog at some of the stereotypes about German theater that appear in English-speaking media. But Germany has plenty of stereotypes and assumptions to match. One biggie: American theater is just not interesting.
You’re welcome to argue for the truth of that statement. And if your knowledge of American theater is a bit broader than Broadway, I’m ready to listen to you. However, my experience is that the complete lack of interest German theatermakers have for American theater is matched by a complete lack of insight into the American theater system and community. I talk to directors, actors, artistic directors, designers, and playwrights here who have grossly limited views of my country’s theater landscape. Statements I’ve recently heard:
- Oh, but I thought you could get the money to produce anything in America if you cast the right star!
- Hm, I had no idea there was theater going on in Chicago.
- Yes, I’ve seen American theater. I saw a touring production of The Lion King.
Outside of the United States, American theater is synonymous with big, commercial Broadway musicals. And in general, it’s not my business to complain about that. Continue reading I saw the Lion King: American theater through German eyes