Dir. Robert Wilson
Great! So here we are, back in New Zealand Wellington Newtown. The piece Ich Warte has been put to rest. But we saw so many shows that I still need to tell you about!
The one I'm itching to scribble down is this one!
Shakespeare's Sonnets directed by Robert Wilson, music by Rufus Wainwright, performed by and at The Berliner Ensemble.
The way the funding system works in Berlin, we bought ten euro (fifteen nzd) student tickets for incredible seats at the most prestigious theatre in the whole of Germany. We've been told that the big 5 theatres in Berlin get first off a flat sum of funding. THEN one hundred to one hundred and fifty euros per seat they fill. Therefore, we paid squat for our centre circle tickets.
So. On to the show.
The basic summary of the show:
- Twenty four sonnets.
- Various archetype characters (cupid, jester. boy, girl, Queen Elizabeth I and II, Shakespeare)
- Wicked and incredible music
- All roles were gender-swapped
This is an actor called Jurgen Holtz playing Elizabeth the First.
This is Jurgen again with another lead, Inge Keller, who played Shakespeare. She was EIGHTY NINE!
Anyway, enough of the overview.
An effective element of this show was also a quality we became accustomed to in German Theatre. Things don't have to make sense. At one point three characters are revealed next to three enormous, cartoon-style petrol pumps. As each character joins in on the song the numbers on the pump begin to turn. Then at the height of the song a bowler hat that has been on stage the whole time begins to rotate and float up into the air. This kind of 'absurdity' is empowering to watch. As a maker I watch this work and I realise, 'it's ok if the audience don't entirely get what I'm doing all the time'. In fact it's better in my taste. Robert Wilson is the polar opposite of spelling things out for the audience. Sure, sometimes he's all 'cupid with a bow and arrow' and 'snakes and apples', but for the most part he is brave in the way he slaps images on top of text.
There was also a highly crafted, stylistic movement and vocal choreography. Every action from every actor was tested, decided upon and performed with precision. The fact that there was a large cast with an intricate set and the performance style was very extreme made the consciousness of the construction. But I reckon it's still valid to work with this decisive but extreme style in a smaller form. For example, my solo.
Love you still, Tom.