Faust in Ethnic Drag?

C: The dog that plays Hitler’s German shepherd Blondie only plays himself. He is always universally a German shepherd. So a German shepherd is seldom cast as a poodle. […]
S: Yeah, what would happen if a poodle was cast as Hitler’s Blondie?
C: Everybody would think that you were performing Faust.
(René Pollesch, Cappuccetto Rosso)

Be careful when you’re casting dogs – your audience will never see a poodle as a German shepherd. In his 2005 play, German playwright and director René Pollesch attacks representative theater for this oppression: women cannot appear as men; representation does not allow them political, social, or artistic equality.

With the rise of Berlin’s Ballhaus Naunynstraße, actors and directors with “migrant backgrounds” (see Cory Tamler’s post-migrant lexicon) have become increasingly visible. This poses a casting challenge to representative theater: can a person who looks “Turkish”  play classic “German” roles believably – I mean believable for white-bread, bourgeois audiences? Nobody questions the ability of Germans to perform the Russian “Cherry Orchard” or the American “Death of a Salesman” – even if I, as an American, do raise questions about too-random signs of Americana in Stefan Pucher’s production of Arthur Miller’s classic, for example. But something changes when a Turkish-German plays a “German” role…

Suddenly people ask the question Fadrina Arpagaus also notes in her post on the “post-migratory” friendliness of the 2011 Theatertreffen: What story is told when a Turk plays Faust?

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