Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bye bye brilliant Berlin

Absolutely barking ( British expression for mad).

They did everything possible on stage: cry, scream, brood, even **ck - though the particpants kept their clothes on. Peter my newest friend warned me before we entered. "Don't fall asleep".

How did he know? Visiting South Africa for the first time back in 1992 I was given the Vip treatment to a concert for the multi talented singer/ violinist Sibongele Khumalo. I fell asleep. My host's neighbour, one Cheryl Carolus would become South Africa's high commissioner to the UK and each time I bumped into her she would threaten to tell all. "How could you sleep through a stellar concert".

But in the end, here, it was my host on the verge of catching 40 winks. The production, oh sorry I should have have made that clear was called Baumeister Solness by henrik Ibsen and not a word of it was spoken in English but I had the time of my life.

I even, serendipity, managed to laugh in the right place. Ab-so-lu-tel-y barking mad. Essentially the production revolves around the expressions of architecture over a period, with a property magnate intertwinning his life around a myriad of wierdly wonderful people who change expression at the drop of a hat.

Frankly the actors must have been exhausted. I was just watching them. Ibsen, doesn't do gentile.

It's not the fist time I have walked into a production with not one iota of language reckoning.

In France once, I went to see Paparzi - a film about those exhaustive photographers who snapped away at the Late Lady Diana. As I neared the ticket collector her hand reached out in front of me. "You know zis is in French".

I must have "made in the UK" cattle-branded on my forehead. But back to Solness. Wow!

Apparently it's a new production in Berlin's theatre land by a director unafraid to take risks and bent on winning over new patrons. However when I looked around, more often than not I was in a room of bank managers and senior manageresses. Yes even the actors are bemused by the clientelle.

Later one of the lead actors ( Mmm my host Peter has good connections) would join us with his girlfriend, also an actor. We spoke about method acting and how he had five productions on the go on any one day. Does he ever forget who he's supposed to be I asked. "Nein, you never forget". Peter lives and breathes the acting profession and he was the most matter-of-fact person I had encountered in a long while giving blunt opinions on his fellow actors.

I won't betray his trust. It was a private chat and he was not to know that I have a prediliction for blogging, but wow, I'm glad at least he liked me enough to talk to me, cuz he could be a real so and so if he didn't.

So just as I had started off privy to German efficiency, so it ended that way. Bye bye brilliant Berlin - a city that boasts little about its offerings. Where money oozes from the cracks of new brand titles stores. Where young hip things take over the streets. Where all taxi drivers are bedevilled by the thought that they are Schumacher (Formula One) and must drive like a bat out of hell and where memories of pass-it-on will live with me for long.

For as I received my prize from winning in one of the videojournalism catergories I was handed a bouquet of flowers. Splendid! But what was I to do with it and I certainly had no intention of taking it back on a plane.

So as I walked through the foyer of the Park Inn, two ladies in their 60s gushed at the arrangement. It was in German of course, but it was the language of universal admiration, so I did what I'm gradually getting used to. I turned on my heel and handed it to one of them who blushed, accepted, and I acknowledged with a salute. Alas I did not enquire upon her name.

But it is good to receive and equally exciting to give.

1 comment:

rob said...

congrats on the award and recent successes! well deserved! all the best homie.. r