Hinter den Kulissen (behind the curtain)

17 Nov

The prospect of a year abroad with no theatre was not a possibility for me so I am delighted to have found The Staatsschauspiel Dresden (literally ‘state drama’). It is a repertory/producing theatre with a set ensemble and over 2010-2011 has a multiple of plays rotating both in their beautiful main house and in the studio area, as it were which consists of various stages which, when not in use, are used for rehearsal areas and free theatre workshops for the public who will later get to perform in one of the studio spaces.

Having done a bit of research before I came over, I had heard about an information evening where you could hear about these different “Bürgerbühne” (‘citizen stage’) initiatives and I plucked up the courage and went along to a workshop; it was free, at least, and an opportunity to speak German! The club went on from 6 to gone 9 and it was shattering. Improvisation in one’s native language can often be hard enough, but to pick up on it in a language where you’re still trying to find your feet is exhausting and tough work. Luckily, for the most part, the speaking aspect was not all that demanding and we were able to do some physical theatre instead but one exercise involved sitting in a circle to tell a story, with everyone adding the next bit. Trying to follow a completely made up and often ridiculous story was challenging enough without then having to add something which hopefully makes grammatical sense. In the UK I’d be making sure I’d said something witty but it’s slightly more difficult in German. Sad because it was quite an enjoyable evening but I think perhaps a bit full on.

Aside from watching plays, which I will write about in following posts, I have joined the “Vorprescher Club” (translation is quite hard but something like a making roots or pressing forwards group?) which is basically a monthly meeting for young people to learn a bit more about how theatre works. A little less demanding but still interesting and comes with the added bonus of a discount card, allowing me to buy theatre tickets for 3.50€, that’s like £2.50 or something completely ridiculous and equally amazing! The meetings are sometimes on the long side and I can sometimes get a bit lost with what’s going on but they are worth going to. By far the best meeting so far was the chance to go backstage of the main house. To tell the truth I did go a little bit geeky. Despite having been backstage of theatres before there is still something magical about it. Here, the stage is very deep and is a concave shape at the back (I assume for the acoustics). The back wall also has tiny fibre optic lights built into it which we were told are used to make starry night scenes! The stage is made up of three huge blocks which the actors stand on and which are able to move up and down, thereby creating massive trap doors, if you like, but these are also used to bring new scenery up onto the set before or during a performance as they lead to the store room below which keeps all the sets for plays that are currently in rep.  I’m unable to make it to the tour of the costume department which I’m sure will be equally amazing.

The Staatsschauspielhaus

Next posts will be my musings on the Staatsschauspiel plays I have seen during my two months here so far; Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe by Bertolt Brecht, Romeo und Julia translated from William Shakespeare, and Der Turm adapted from the novel by Uwe Tellkamp.

One Response to “Hinter den Kulissen (behind the curtain)”

  1. Rachael 17/11/2010 at 8:22 pm #

    There is an improvisational group in Leipzig called Spruchlandung who are worth checking out if you come over this way: http://www.spruchlandung.de/

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