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Chewinggum Dogs - At the festival brunch in the theatre at the Domplatz the joined play was presented

Pimp my life!

by Christian Rakow

Osnabrück, September 5th 2009. No breathing space, drama is being created, progress is being made. The festival motor is still purring smoothly at mid speed, even on this Saturday morning. We meet for a traditional brunch in the theatre foyer. Before the run for the big buffet the organisers have fixed an extra round of new drama. To appetisers of coffee and croissants there’s a reading from the joint text, which eight international playwrights wrote under the supervision of Bernhard Studlar and Rebekka Kricheldorf at an Osnabrück workshop in June.

It is a loose knit story about a couple in Osnabrück, Heide and Dolf, which oscillates in several time leaps between meeting at a bus stop and a depressing marriage scenario 20 years later. In a kind of relay stick drama the authors passed on scenes and clearly went into turbo mode. From an inconspicous exposition at the Osnabrück bus stop "Heger Tor“ (written by Studlar) the rocket of this play takes off through the weightless orbit of irony.

Sex and Crime
Dolf, so we discover from gradual information, is a neo-nazi, mayor, also impotent and has murdered a child in the woods with his skinhead friends. His wife is portrayed as a nymphomaniac bitch that conceives her gay/bisexual/cybersex addicted son Bruno through Train sex with a bus driver, a policeman and with Dolf. "We need more sex", Paul Pourveur decides for his GangBang scene. "I want to kill a character", is the maxim of Nicoleta Esinencu. They both succeed.

The questionable undertaking of this project (why send authors to a writing workshop to practise?) is hardly worth mentioning, if it isn't a nice lesson in realism and drastic. So there is the writing assignment to do something with Osnabrück and Studlar comes up with everyday and harmless scene at the bus stop. He also dictates the figure and dialogue drama (a few authors use narrative passages or – like Maja Pelevic – free verses). The play commits itself especially to a presentation relation: It wants to bring life to the stage.

Glorification through drastic
For such undertaking there are usually two ways. First the documentation, which meticulously works its way into the situation, so Osnabrück and its people through detailed observation, come over as artistic. These options of course were rejected because of the short time of the workshop (one week). Osnabrück is also statistically "the most worthy place to live in Germany", so maybe a little too boring (Maja Pelevic: "I don't believe in happy faces.") There is also another way: the way to glorification.

It was called "Glorification" in the classic realism after 1850, when everyday characters were preferably enriched with biblical connotations (prototype: "Between heaven and eart" by Otto Ludwig) or with literary historic elements (prototype: "A Village Romeo and Juliet" by Gottfried Keller). Today it is of course not the illustrious glorification, for it smells as musty as old slippers. The concept of connotative enrichment is intact. It comes in as drastic. Drastic still guarantees all everyday scenarios, so that it doesn't only seem "super modern" but also crucial and compelling, yes altogether humane.

Art begins with the astounding
Redundant fuck scenes, child murder (from the writing by Rebekka Kricheldorf), rapes and kinky teenage sex (contributed by José Manuel Mora) and eccentricity are ways of concentration. They say: "Look here, this is about something, here it will be – full of humour – existential". Sadly this statement can only sustain if the drastic doesn't remain as part of the probable. Okay, the German is somehow a Nazi and all snobs are sexually frustrated and so on. Little hints suffice, because the cliché is completely stable in the background. In consequence we discover a drama in the spirit of Wikipedia links. Child murder in the woods? Read on at "The promise"/"It happened in broad daylight" (Keyword: Gert Fröbe).

When drastic ideas only bring the familiar to the fore boredom isn't far away. Much stronger is the drastic based on metaphoric process colliding with word context. Just think of "Inglorious Bastards" by Quentin Tarantino that's on at the cinema at the moment. Jews murdered by Nazis and then scalped, as by indians – this is a clash of context, which doesn't only draw from the familiar. It really gets to the point.

It isn't good to aim too high but sometimes it's exactly these prickly little things, these mini dramas that make it clear where contemporary drama is lacking. Just a bit of heckling and a twitch here and there isn't enough. Art begins with the astounding.

PS: The piece has been titled Chewing Gum Dogs by an audience vote. There's a running gag with chewing gum in almost every scene. It sticks to Dolf's trousers and sometimes even more: "The world has been stuck together by chewing gum."

The Play (still untitled and only in German) read here.

More about the creation of the piece can be read in the report by Simone Kaempf about the authors workshop in June.


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