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Route 2 of the Spieltriebe 3 Festival – A (II) +, My Soul Elsewhere

Fear of the archaic

by Wolfgang Behrens

Osnabrück September 4th 2009. It must have been coincidence rather than intention of the repertoire composition. But whoever decided to follow the blue marked route 2 at the Spieltriebe 3- Festival, came across with two authors born in 1978. Authors of the same generation that are – at least around here – claimed to write mostly about themselves.

As little as the plays of the Moldavian Nicoleta Esinencu and the Spanish José Manuel Mora are connected – they must be cleared of the charges of self-contemplation. Both reach far beyond their own generation in their plays performed in Osnabrück and aim at archetypal characters whose strength and dread originated from their own archaic and not least patriarchal characterised societies – blood and ground are no foreign words here. With Esinencu therefore a shrewd nationalist steps out to us and with Mora a family ponders in a culpable status quo.

Racism, underlined with chamber music
Nicoleta Esinencu's play "A(II) Rh +" is literally about the pureness of blood: a Romanian fanatic racist, who ironically enough works at a blood donor centre, sees "a two positive" as the only beatific blood group. Esinencu's farce-like monologue with its repetitive structure has a high rhythmic quality that requires musical decisions in the transcription. Stage director Markus Bauer has resisted the more obvious decisions and decided against a "Rock" version and instead has chosen quiet and so to speak chamber music approach.

Dietmar Nieder, Lieko Schulze, photo copyright: Uwe Lewandowski

He has split the monologue by a man (who really and without it being his own fault the blonde and blue-eyed Dietmar Nieder) and a woman (also a nice idea- half-Japanese Lieko Schulze). The texts overlap each other in a formal versed way, there is a voice and a counter-voice, single lines are looped, impressionist piano sounds come from the off. The blood and race racism is performed as a kind of bureaucratic normality in a virtually cooled down atmosphere, that doesn't require a pathological exterior in order to declare a fascistic ideology.

However, near the end the temperate element of the staging also enables the sudden outburst – maybe this is the clue of the whole thing. As the protagonist almost loses his daughter and applies his own rule of pureness to himself: "I won't inject my daughter with Russian blood" and given the tragedy Dietmar only once – one single time – gets really loud. The stubborn attitude leads to the personal tragedy. It's only a shame that Markus Bauer and his team didn't thematise the impressive venue any further – the empty officers' casino of the Winkelhausen-barracks already shines with charm muted in red. Apart from the colour-coded costumes no reflexes appear in the room of the staging.

A pile of earth as a bedroom and clod
From the officers' casino we go to the former building of the military police. Here stage designer Viktoria Strikic has distributed a large pile of earth, in the middle of which a gleaming white bed stands. It is strange picture that leads into the secretive archaic world of the Spanish José Manuel Mora: bedroom and clod.

meine_seele_7426_onIn "My Soul Elsewhere", which not only has its first but also world premiere in Osnabrück, Mora has created an ominous family constellation with short, often only suggestive dialogues: a man loves a twelve-year-old girl, and she loves him back (a similar breach of taboo can be found in Ibsen's "Baumeister Solness"). Later on the girl marries the son of the old man and has a daughter with him, who will arouse the old man, the grandfather, once again. Everyone knows everything: The son used to watch the father during the act of love; the wife of the old man also knows what's going on.

There is something sultry about this play that bothers you. Particularly as Mora doesn't judge. Although the old man takes a rope and hangs himself, he doesn't do it because of a simple admission of guilt. He far rather seems to want to fulfil a given pattern: that destiny will always relentlessly be carried out. The (born in 1978!) Icelandic stage director Thorleifur Arnarsson now does exactly the right thing: he doesn't try to perform the play as bizzare or to educate, but lets it unfold in all its calm with its disturbing potential. It is almost astounding how precise the Icelander has worked on the language – every sentence, yes every word keeps the room assigned to him breathing, without congealing everything in a slowly dripping slowness. (Photo: Verena Fitz, Klaus Fischer, photo copyright: Klaus Fröhlich.)

Suddenly the generations fall into each other
As a sideline Arnarsson inspires his actors to exact character studies: Klaus Fischer plays the old man with lurking aggression, Clemens Dönicke as the son plays a weakling and Verena Fitz plays his wife who always seems to look into world in an alien way. The best actress however is Katrin Stephan, who first plays the wife of the old man and then slips into the role of the granddaughter. The way she switches from the naïve intonation of the child and then turns into an old woman is almost ghost-like. The generations fall into each other and the indulgence of self-contemplation completely remains apart.

A(II) Rh+
by Nicoleta Esinencu
From the Rumanian version by Georg Aescht
German premiere
Directed by: Markus Bauer, stage and costume design: Teresa Hahn. Starring: Dietmar Nieder, Lieko Schulze.

More about Nicoleta Esinencu in our biographical guide.

Portrait of A (II) Rh + by Petra Kohse here.

A summary of theatrical landscape of the Republic of Moldova from a report by Irina Wolf.

My Soul Elsewhere
by José Manuel Mora
From the Spanisch version by Franziska Muche
World premiere
Directed by: Thorleifur Arnarsson, stage and costume design: Viktoria Strikic. Starring: Klaus Fischer, Katrin Stephan, Clemens Dönicke, Verena Fitz.

More about José Manuel Mora in our biographical guide.

Portrait of My Soul Elsewhere by Sabine Leucht here.

Information on the theatrical landscape of Spain from a report by Wilfried Floeck.

Biographical information about all of the directors can be found here in an article about the festival´s creators.

Route plan


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