Glad goes to Berlin, The RSC in Newcastle and The Crucible at the King’s, Edinburgh. LISTINGS: THEATRE 47 CABARET 50 DANCE 50
ing up a stilrm und drang
From the hostels ofcentral Edinburgh to the bright lights of Berlin, the men ofthe Grassmarket Project have travelled a long way since August. Gregg Ward reports back from Germany where Glad has been sparking off a new revolution.
In the employees‘ canteen of the Volksbuhne (People‘s Theatre), formerly of East Berlin. but now part ofthe new, undivided city, burnished Berlin leathers are outshining dull Scottish tweeds. In the left corner, the young trendies of the artistic elite sport togs which loudly proclaim an intent to create a new kind oftheatrc in a new Germany. In the right corner, obviously out of place but no less determined to force change. the homeless men of Edinburgh‘s Grassmarket hold court in second-hand jackets, jumpers and caps. Both groups are enjoying a brief rest before the opening performance of Glad, the show about homelessness in Britain. which has been brought to Berlin by Rainer Roepke. a self-styled civil service visionary who is desperate to show East Germans the ugly face ofcapitalism.
Glad has become a unique force since it first
I I' "' T o o o o
The Grassmarket Project proclaims itseli with pride in Berlin.
opened on the Edinburgh Fringe six months ago. creating a media firestorm wherever it has gone. The debate centres on its use of homeless people and their life stories as a social-artistic whip designed to thrash society into action. Many of the Germans in the canteen think that Glad is just the motivator they‘ve been searching for.
‘We must have a new kind of theatre for a new situation.‘ says Roepke in broken English as his long black beard dips itself into an ashtray. ’German unity is on the one side okay, and on the other catastrophic. Before the wall came down there were no homeless people in East Germany. Now there are already 2000 in Berlin alone. ()ur theatre must be able to address this.‘
Klaus Trappman, an arts journalist who makes the Volksbuhne canteen his second home. sticks his head forward to agree emphatically with Roepke. ‘A lot ofyoung people today.‘ he says. ‘arc bored with this too artificial theatre which is empty and out of touch with the country‘s problems. Berlin is an epicentre ofGermany‘s social ills. Our theatre and culture have not faced this situation enough. Glad is showing us the way.‘
As the argument develops, the leather-clad trendies listen intently. sometimes nodding in
PHOTO: DONNA ORLANDO
unison. while sipping black coffee and punctuating the discussion with studied pulls on Marlboro cigarettes. As for their Scottish counterparts. they seem to prefer their tobacco hand-rolled and in between sentences tuck into potato pancakes drenched in apple sauce.
‘l‘m not sure Glad can make that much ofa difference.‘ says Leslie Walker from the Grassmarket Project. ‘There are going to be ten times as many homeless in Germany as there are in Britain. How is one piece of theatre going to change all that? Still. ifwe can help get the message across, that‘s fine by me.‘
‘And by me,‘ says Jean Findlay, the show‘s producer. ’But this is much more than a socialist realist theatrical statement we‘re putting on here. It‘s live theatre, and it works as theatre just as much as it works to stir people into trying to better the world.‘
As the cross-country conversation heats up, the air in the canteen thickens into a stew of German, English and broad Scots, stirred by hand gestures designed to illustrate the complex cultural debating points. Peter Scott, Glad‘s lighting designer. argues that there are going to have to be big changes in the way Germans operate their theatres. ‘This place employs more than 300 people,’ he says waving his arms around the canteen. ‘That‘s incredible. In Britain it would probably be 30. Also. some of the equipment here is 40 years old. Something has got to give if you want to start a new theatrical movement.‘
‘Ya. ya, ya!‘ agrees Herr Roepke. ‘that‘s exactly what we want, a new theatrical movement!‘ He stands ceremoniously. as if preparing to welcome in this developing art form with an impassioned speech. But the Tannoy interrupts him, booming out a multilingual half-hour call. Then, like actors everywhere, the Grassmarket actors quickly drain their beer glasses and head for their dressing rooms. The Germans give a quick toast to democracy and then set out for the stalls to steep themselves in the evening‘s offering ofBritish theatre performed by homeless people.
By’, considered a major success at the 1988 Bergen International Music
with each other.
mood, hinting at the way people deal
perceives any cultural identity in his work. ‘When we tour abroad and visit a
Dans Design are one of Norway’s nine state-supported dance companies. Chosen to represent their country in Scotland’s new dance season New Moves Across Europe the company will periorrn ‘Film. Dance To Be Murdered
Performed by three actors and two dancers, the piece involves text, slide and iiim projections. ‘It deals with light and shadow,’ explains choreographer and dancer Leii Heroes. Concerned with relationships between people, the central theme is echoed in text by musician John Cage and in comments from Alfred Hitchcock on music used in his films. ‘Hltchcock is the sixth periormer,‘ says Herns. Although the piece doesn’t deal directly with a story, Hitchcock’s macabre insights create a
‘Dealing with actors as a choreographer rather than a director is the main problem,’ Hemes continues. ‘We are experimenting with the concept oi making actors move; choreographing rather than directing them. Problems arise because the actors are trained to be directed.’ The result ialls along the borderline between dance and theatre. The actors learn how to move and the dancers learn to create a character.
‘We are not trying to be this or that,’ Hernes insists when i ask it he
country like America, people say there is something very Scandinavian about our periorrnances. in Norway we are looked upon as ioreign.’ Further pressed, Hernes enlgmaiicaily announces that the company may have a particular ‘pulse’ as a result oi their heritage. I certainly won’t expect pine and raw iish, but they may present something a little different. (Jo Boe)
Film. Dance To Be Murdered By can be seen at the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Thurs 14—Sai 16 Feb.
The List 8—21 February 1991 45