mamm- The Stein way
Two productions in this year’s Festival bear the stamp of one of theatre’s giant ﬁgures: German director Peter Stein who, in a 25-year career, has travelled from the Berlin counter-culture to the great arenas of the international circuit.
His huge-scale Julius Caesar (developed for the Salzburg Festival) is accompanied in Edinburgh by the WNO production of Falstaff — together they demonstrate the diversity of Stein’s work in the 90s. He has even reached the point where he can describe the 200-cast Caesar as a ‘test’: ‘The show was first done in a special. huge space. a 17th century horse-riding school. My instinct was to see if the play could stand having a huge crowd of extras there. It‘s one of the most rhetorical of Shakespeare's plays, with lots of speeches to enormous masses of people, who are normally more or less mute. You can see what happens to the story: whether it brings out certain values or elements in the play. The main interest for me was the people - to give them a voice, even if they are manipulated.‘
But Stein is keen to stress that there is no place for the grand Teutonic vision in his production — the sort of parade- ground spectacle espoused by Wagner or Reinhardt. His conception of the mass is entirely different. ‘The people are anarchic in this play — they are not formed or unified, except at the end, and that is only through lies and tricks and manipulations. What I'm doing is nothing to do with the German
tradition. In fact, you see that kind of spectacle anywhere — the Scottish Tattoo is the biggest mass exercise you can imagine. It has nothing to do with the story of Caesar. which is often concentrated on only a few characters at a time.‘
With Falstaff. however, Stein concedes that his input. inevitably. is relatively curtailed. ‘ln opera you are the second man. you have to follow the music, the composer so carefully. it limits your fantasy. your freedom. If you are a theatre director. you cannot do opera so often. Also there are not so many operas I am interested in — so much ofthe old repertoire does not
need any serious theatrical work.‘ Still. Stein’s position in mainstream theatre is virtually unrivalled, with a reputation for adventurous. ground-breaking work. But, as Caesar shows, his commitment to the classical theatre remains unwavering: ‘Without the old texts,’ he warns, ‘the theatre oftoday cannot survive. We have to go back to them to learn what theatre really is.’ (Andrew Pulver)
I Julius Caesar (Festival) Royal Highland Exhibition Hall, lngliston, 225 5756. l. 2 Sept. 2.30pm, £15.
I Falstait (Festival) Playhouse Theatre, 225 5756. 2, 4 Sept, 7.30pm. £8—£35.
mm- Riddle of the Sﬁnx
‘lia Capo Al Fine is all about the question oi identity which is politically very important ior East Germany at the moment,’ explains Cundula Welrnann, director oi Stinx Theatre. ‘Our culture, which developed over the past40 years, is now in danger oi being swept away by a Western understanding at what it is to be East Cerman.’
Constituted in 1989 in Leipzig, 81in: Theatre was rounded by Welmann who had lust comle her training in Theatre Studies. it was termed during the ferment oi the revolutionary period, so it is not surprising that Slinx asks questions in its work about belonging.
Ila Capo Al Fine was developed from texts by lonesco and Beckett. Alter creating their own dramatic structure, Weimann and company contrasted the serious essence of their work with movement which she describes as
‘clown-esque and pantomiming’. (Tamsin Crainger)
Ila Capo Al Fine (Fringe) Slinx Theatre, FEAST, Edinburgh College of Art (Venue73) 228 9666/228 2234, 27 Ann-4 Sam. 2M. £5 (23)-
Catherine Fellows skips her lunch for live at the early-afternoon best.
I Bloodstream A tree does a tour of a lumberjack’s body and has some difficulty ﬁnding the brain. Physical theatre from crazy, brilliant Andrew Buckland.
Bloodstream (Fringe) Market Theatre. Traverse (Venue I5) 228 1404. 27. 31 Aug. 3 Sept I pm; 28 Aug. 1. 4 Sept 4.30pm; 26. 29 Aug. 2 Sept. 8pm, £7 (£4).
I Breath A dancer, an industrial designer, an architect and a photographer, all from Japan, collaborate in this ‘trembling live event’ in which ‘a seething energy is squeezed from human bodies’. See you there.
Breath (Fringe) Vital Theatre. Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9873. 30 Aug—4 Sept. 2.30pm, £4 (£3).
I The Woman In A Tree (in The Hill For once the play is every bit as good as the title — and it is about women and trees — and men and a sense of perspective. A gem in Momingside.
The Woman In A Tree On The Hill (Fringe) Theatreworks Singapore. The Mad Abbot (Venue 84) 447 881/. until 4 Sept. 2.30pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
l Accustomed To Her Face Fringe
First winner from John Binnie: a lesbian love story and a barrage of wicked, hilarious one liners. Accustomed To Her Face (Fringe) Clyde Unity Theatre. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. 27. 29. 3/ Aug. 2. 4 Sept. 2pm. £5.50 (£3.50).
I Burroughs! Nominated best at Brighton Festival, Duff an impressive actor. William a hell ofa guy — three reasons to expect a good show. Burroughs! (Fringe) Graham Duﬂ. Stepping Stones Theatre (Venue 5/) 225 6520. 3/ Aug—4 Sept. l.30pm. £5.50
The List 27 August—9 September I993 25