October 21, 2015

I’m going to the theatre! Or Sister Wendy, Boticelli, and the Challenge of Beauty.


I told you I don’t go to the theatre. I'm kind of a control freak and I like feel the theatre takes too much control over me. There’s no buffer. Its different with visual arts - you can escape it - you just skip it, you leave the room. Okay, It’s true that even a glimpse of bad art can ruin one’s mood for a whole day. Remember that visit of mine to the museum.... But in the theatre you’re just stuck and if it’s really bad, it sucks your energy like a vampire. It seems too much fuss to leave the theatre in the middle of a play, I’m too inhibited to make everybody get up from their chairs and make all this noise. I remember when during a theatre performance in Brussels, all the lights were turned off and the fully packed audience was in total darkness for at least 10 minutes: oh how I hated it to be at its mercy. But maybe... I should open up more to prostrating myself, to giving in? 

So I bought a ticket for Kill Your Darlings by René Pollesch at the Volksbühne. Fall somehow makes me want to go to the theater - it awakens in me this yearning for high culture in German (knowing that I will only understand half of it). It might have to do with nature dying all around, and the melancholic mood that sets in together with the eternally gray skies. It seems to ask for some drama, some acting up. I have a penchant for the Volksbühne, which promises avant-garde instead of the Faust, Shakespeare, and Schiller tradition at the Berliner Ensemble. In November, the Volksbühne is again featuring my favorite theatre play of all times, Dieter Roth’s Murmel Murmel, and I wouldn’t mind going again. It’s so good! It has no content - and it’s often the content that sickens me of theater. There’s only one word used during the whole damn 1 hour and 20 minutes play: “Murmel”. Wonderful, it shows that content is overrated. We can just relish in the plain surface of Murmel. Isn’t the surface the only part we can see anyway? At the same time Murmel is so intangible. 

They (my theater friends) told me I should see René Pollesh’s work, so that’s why I’m going to Kill your Darlings. Also because I dig the text: “Die besten Szenen werden Sie heute Abend nicht sehen, denn die würden wir alle nicht ertragen. Deswegen heißt der Abend: Kill your Darlings” (You won’t see the best scenes tonight, because we all couldn’t bear it. That’s why the evening is called: Kill your Darlings). This reminded me of Sister Wendy talking about Botticelli’s Venus. I just visited the Botticelli exhibition at Gemäldegalerie. I always have a hard time enjoying such biggies. It makes me feel like a tourist in my own town, and looking at those paintings, is like looking at Venice: I can’t help the feeling of seeing a fake coulisse. I know - it's bad. But there might be something else at play too - something more psychological. And it was Sister Wendy who made me realise so. Not only because you can't imagine Venus doing the washing up. But it's the end that Sister Wendy (dressed in her daily attire, not a costume!) comes to the conclusion: “When Venus steps ashore she will be clothed. This is a very sad thing because it suggest we just can’t take the confrontation of that. We have to have beauty partly hidden or the challenge is too great.” 


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