»You won’t catch me no more,« Karl Schönherr lets his She-Devil say. Actually, an ideal resolution after a theatre visit.
© Reinhard Maximilian Werner / Press
Isn’t the men’s crowing after all. Their stilted pawing of the delicate champagne flute. The pointy-lipped nipping because the nose doesn’t correspond with the small opening of the glass. Also not the fairer sexes that go floating by with their ear decorations in Christmas tree size and the upwardly bent windshield wiper tongues to deny the thick red lipstick access to the incisors. Of course not. Who likes that? The gossip clouds float above the heads in the foyer, on the lookout for the dock of approval: what a fake, such a show-off, that conceited ass. But let’s be honest: that’s all part of it. The evening begins already when you start thinking about the dress code: Which theatre am I going to? Which play is being performed? A classic? Then it should be the evening gown? A suit with bowtie? Or is it a modern piece? Then smartcasual should be enough: jeans with buttondown shirt and a sports jacket!
© Hans Jörg Michael / Pess
They say that an event is ninety percent anticipation and ten percent memory. So don’t we share responsibility for the enjoyment? Let’s do something for it! Some of us extend the anticipation with a visit to the hairdresser. Or in the suit department of the local tailor’s shop. Maybe I should vacuum the car while I’m at it. And: Should we go to a good restaurant before or after the show? It helps to prepare. Like voice training for an actor or a singer’s breathing technique. After all, something truly exciting happens at the theatre: a live act. And that always evokes energy, interaction between the actors and their audience. And this is what it’s about: here everything happens directly, without filters, bare. Everyone has the opportunity to participate in the creation of a great moment. In theatre, there are no directors using pans or cuts to suggest how to distribute your sympathies. It is the people who are present that count.
The American playwright Robert Brustein summed it up like this: »Theatergoing is a communal act, movie going a solitary one.« But group work is fragile, as it is everywhere where people have to pull together. Ideally, art and life really do blend together on the stage into a beautiful illusion for a moment. Desirable? Yes! Even placebos work. Art can carry you off, help you to escape, before, three hours later, perhaps everything has been moved back into place.
© Reinhard Maximilian Werner / Press
But for these three hours »you won’t catch me no more«, as the She-Devil has been saying ever since 1914. What it’s about? A smuggler (here at Munich’s »Resi« theatre) demands of his wife that she consent to the flirtations of a border guard so that he himself may avoid the troublesome inspections. What follows is amour fou, the fanning of flames, all-consuming jealousy. In the end, one of the men is in jail, the other one dead, the wife inherits the house. Meanwhile, Molière’s imaginary invalid (here staged by the »Burg« in Vienna) flails about the morass of the healthcare system, but the story is also about money or love. A placebo effect in reverse: the imagined illness can lead to real affliction. Poor bugger! Thinks he who lets it happen nonetheless. So: Two classics, written when the wooden planks of the stage that is the world today weren’t even trees yet, but perhaps at least as relevant as some other contemporary comrade.
How did good old Oscar Wilde say? »I love acting. It’s so much more real than life.« You don’t need to have sat through the show seen by the unknown critic who opined: »It must be said, however, that we saw the piece under especially unfavourable circumstances: the curtains were open.«
Die ganze Welt ist eine Bühne
STAGE | Schaubühne Berlin
STAGE | Juliusz Slowacki Theatre
STAGE | Staatsschauspiel Dresden
STAY | Vienna House QF Dresden
STAGE | Residenztheater
STAGE | Národni Divadlo
STAGE | Wuppertaler Bühnen
STAY | Vienna House Easy Wuppertal