dancing_moon: Jadeite / DM / Me (Default)
Been busy, mood also went up and down.

But if you hit Berlin and speak German, I encourage you to see "Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder" in the Berliner Ensemble.

I never thought a play carried, mostly, by a little old lady and an actress playing her mute daughter could become something so powerful. It started out a bit slow, but after 2-3 scenes, Mother Courage's presence filled the stage and I was truly gripped by the play. Really liked the costuming etc choices they'd made for this play!
dancing_moon: Zoro brushing his teeth while sleeping (Lazy)
Trying to write something. It's not working, so I thought I'd blog.

/procrastination ahoy/

Yesterday I went with a friend to see Die Mausefalle, the Berliner Kriminal Theater version of Agatha Christies über-classic The Mouse Trap. Because I am a Christie n00b and also never remember the plot of crime stories unless I read them like twenty times, I was totally surprised by the ending.

It was fun to go and the theatre was very nice; small intimate room, we sat at the very last row and I still had no problem making out the character's facial expressions. I think it might be some kind of old factory building or something, because there was a lot of naked steel and high roofs in there, which worked very well with the classical red theatre curtain.

The acting wasn't overwhelmingly great but solid enough. Otoh Christie doesn't really write characters as much as types. And it was nice, a cosy evening with a good play and some really funny moments.

Also easy to understand even if your German isn't overwhelmingly good, so it's definitely a theatre I'd recommend to visitors who want to take part of a bit of Berliner culture but aren't certain if they can follow a play. And really, the 19 € places are absolutely spiffy (just don't sit too much in the middle, the pillar will be in the way).

Wouldn't mind going back and seeing perhaps a German crime play, or Arsenic and Old Lace.
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
There are so many amazing shows, plays, concerts and events in Berlin. If I had the money and the time, I could go out every night and enjoy something, and I think I could spend more than a year doing that without ever having to repeat myself.

Now, I have neither the time nor wallet to be able to do quite so much, but I told myself that I would try to catch at least some of what this city has to offer and I'm working on it. Even when I have exams....

Okay, I hadn't exactly planned to do so much during my exams, but when two friends (one of whom I hadn't seen for at least half a year) turn up during the weekend right between two exams, what are you to do? Well, I made sure to study extra much the week before and spent time with them, walking through an icy Berlin the first day, and then hiding in various museums the second day. I absolutely need to go back to the Neue Museum btw, we just had time to rush in, admire the Nefertiti Bust and peek at the Egyptian department - I think I could spend an entire day in there though, so much cool ancient things!

Anyway, while B-san and T-san had tickets to B2ST, I as it happened had booked (something like three days before they told me they were coming) tickets to Brecht's Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) and, well, ain't missing that for no exams!

It was A-MAZING. I managed to fuddle up things with the tickets just before we split up, so I had a load of stress getting there, but once I was inside, it took only a short time before I got into the flow of things.

This was a very cool, distanced rendering of the play, with mime-like make-up on the actors and extremely few props. Now, this is a style of theatre that is quite popular in Stockholm (in my, admittedly, limited experience) and for many plays and operas *cough*Wagner*cough*DonJuan*cough* it just doesn't work very well. It all tips over into uncomfortable sillyness and, depending on what kind of plot it has, sometimes it also gets too confusing to follow.

Mackie Messer & JennyIt's a bit different with Brecht, of course. This is what Dramaten seems to aim at and don't always hit.

Fluorescent tubes in front of a sometimes completely black stage, white faces in velvet jackets and and a androgynous Mack the Knife, with hints of both Marlene Dietrich and the Joker, against the wonderfully grotesque-clownish Peachums don't hinder the Threepenny Opera, but make the absurdity into a rather elegant joke. I've read several reviews of the play in German magazines, and some feel that this too cool, too stylish version has lost the political edge, but I dunno... It was all so peeled off, so bare, that the actors had to carry it almost entirely on their own, and they did so with a captivating and sometimes biting disdain for the issues of poverty, justice and fairness.

So that's what I did when I should've been studying. Don't regret a second :P

Tonight (which is actually after the exams, so go my planning skillz) I went with my landlady to see Philippe Jaroussky, a countertenor who was singing French pieces in the Chamber Music Hall by Potsdamer Platz.

Lovely. The songs were often very delicate and elegant, though some of them - especially at the end, he really relaxed during the extra numbers - were also very lively.
In the first half we unfortunately realized that our places weren't very good, since we were high up and just behind him, so the acoustics got a bit murky. The small size of the room and the amphitheatre shape, did however make it feel quite intimate.
After the break, we moved down (snagging the places left when two ladies moved even further down, heh) and then things really took off! I've got next to no knowledge about classical music, but there was something quite otherworldly about how his thrilled above the accompanying piano.

When we walked out, it felt as if I left several kilos of pure stress behind ^_^ Absolutely a treat that I received just at the right time

Afterwards, we walked round Potsdamer Platz and Eva showed me how the Berlinale works. Might go there tomorrow after school and see if I can catch something...
dancing_moon: Mana looks angsty (Mana)
It's been a while, but I'd like to try and document my theatre visits, so here goes nothing...

In the cyborg seminar, we had a text by René Pollesch, the very opaque www-slums, and in connection with this we went to see a play by him: Schmeiß Dein Ego weg! (Throw your ego away!), which was also quite difficult to grasp but at least there were some very good acting and a couple of very interesting monologues.

The "plot" isn't quite simple to explain, but basically Martin (played by Martin Wuttke, he was really good!) wakes up after 200 year of being frozen, and tries to discuss the problem of the Fourth Wall - which has become a real, solid thing in the time he was frozen - and the issue of body, soul, self and the connection of these things with the woman he loves who has been split in two (or more? there's a "choir" too who might some time be part of this woman. Or not). The thing is, all the characters talk past each other, and the play is rather built around a series of monologues each defining a point of view than actual dialogues.

They also did interesting things with the Fourth Wall, which began as a panelled wall on the stage, so that it looked as if the walls of the theatre room extended to cover the stage too. Then they broke open two panels, and through a live feed, showed things from behind the wall (which was made to look like an old-fashiond living room) and then there was another video projecting on the wall inside this room which we only caught glimpses of, until the last scene.

Quite difficult to explain, even more difficult to understand (acoustically too, unfortunately, sometimes I had a hard time hearing the actors) but intense, engaging and leaving many thoughts behind. I'm also glad that I got to visit the Volksbühne, it seems to be a very interesting stage! And the building looks quite epic!
dancing_moon: Text: Resistance is ohm (resistance is ohm)
Yesterday I went to see Das kunstseidene Mädchen (The Girl made of Artificial-Silk) in the Aufbau Theatre. This is one of Berlin's many small private theatre companies, and it just so happens that it lies about one block from my apartment.
Which, I'm sad to say, totally proves that they need a better PR-responsible, because I pass the building where the theatre is every morning on my way to school, and we're currently studying the book (written 1932 by Irmgard Keun, quite worth a read) and I knew neither of the theatre nor this play. Luckily enough, one of my fellow students has stronger Google-fu and informed the class about the play last week.

The play: Girls shouldn't be made of fake silk, because it wrinkles so easily )

The day before Das Kunstseidene Mädchen I also did things, I barely know how to keep my head straight with all this sudden social life ^_^;;;

Anyway, two other exchange students had, inspired by the fact that it was Australia Day called together an event called Australia, which turned out to be a very nice gathering of Australians, Germans and exchange students from other countries to learn about post/colonilism from an Australian perspective.
We gathered in the cellar of a pub and there followed an evening with poetry readings (Oodgeroo Noonuccal, some others and new poems by one of the organisers), historical information (the dictation test and the ethnic cleansing of the Tasmanian peninsula, both completely new things to me) and looked at the works of a photographer whom is involved in the struggle for indigineous rights and whose name I have utterly forgotten. There was supposed to be a film showing too, but considering we discussed until a bit after midnight, that didn't really work out. Still, a lively discussion is both something less solid and more engaging than even a really good movie, so I think it all worked out quite well.

Otherwise, I've spent most of the week thinking of a poem by the East German poet Karl Mickel, which I'm supposed to present on Monday. With a few clear and well-formulated interpretation theses. orz

...and apparantly while I'm sitting in a library writing this post, there's a load of police cars and whatnot outside of work in Stockholm, in the aftermath of a robbery on a nearby goldsmith o.0
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
I've increased my social life with, like, 245% since I got to Berlin. The downside is that when I'm not doing anything, I'm utterly exhausted. I think the evening stuff go down a bit now that university is starting, although I'll certainly try to be active and do something at least once a week. However, I can also feel a marked improvement in my mood compared to how it usually is in October- Winter depression talk cut )

ERASMUS-party
On Friday, the evening started in Steffi's new apartment, where I made the happy discovery that if you mix the sparkling whine from Lidl with peach juice, it is not only tolerably but actuallly good. Considering that the sparkling wine costs ten cents less than the peach juice, I had some serious doubts about the drinkability of the stuff...

After that, we made our way to Kino International, where they had a party evening for ERASMUS students. Since I'd messed up my schedule on Friday and thought I had more classes than I did, I failed to buy tickets before and so had to pay a horrible 6 € at the door.

Entering this club, btw, was a very "German" experience. First we had to show ID. Then they checked the bags. Then a girl took our money/pre-booked tickets, checked that we were students, stamped us and gave us a little ticket. Three steps behind her a man took that little ticket back and finally, once you got up the stairs, you could stand in line for the wardrobe. Despite that, it was pretty efficient (except for the wardrobe, but that is an international problem afaik)

Unfortunately, the music turned out to be less than great. I'm no expert on club music, but I found the beat hard to dance to and the clubbing expert in our group agreed. Hopefully next party will be better, though I think we've agreed to skip the ERASMUS events as they often seem to suffer from dreadful DJ's.

E.G.A.L.
Tonight, I visited an amateur show wherein a friend took part: The theatre troop Stageink's "Eine Gala aus Liedern (und mit allem, was dazugehört)".

It was quite entertaining and the advanced level of tech was a positive surprise! They even had a full live band with drums, guitar, bass, cello & piano. The cello in particular lifted some pieces miles above a playback experience.

My favorite pieces were the (German) Scrubs song, that is, J.D & Turks "Guy Love Duet", or whatever it's called, it was unfortunately not introduced. Several of the Elizabeth pieces were also very good (the singer in top hat had a good voice and an impressive stage presence), of which the only ones title I remember was "Milch". Good song and Oscar, the girl in the uniform did a spiffing job. To my great surprise, I got to hear a very nice performance of the wolf song, from Ronia the Robber's Daughter!! I totally didn't connect the title with that song when they introduced it, but from the first tones all the memories came back (and most of the lyrics too). Impressive, considering I haven't seen the films since I was like twelve. Otoh, I watched it maaaaany times before that ^_^

They also performed the Time Warp, which was alas a bit ruined by the microphones not working for everyone, including the male lead singer. Luckily, they did it again as the extra song at the end, and that time everything technical co-operated much better. (is there an English word for "zugabe"? Or do they use encore, perhaps?)
Which reminds me of the only really negative thing about the evening (except the lack of a program I could buy; Matt, plz improve to the next show? Some of us have a scrapbook to fill ;) - a loudspeaker or something made a really annoying buzzing sound. Sounded like my old speakers, actually, before I manage to ground them. Luckily, while annoying the sound wasn't too loud and during most songs I could forget about it

All in all, the show was varied, entertaining and the singing provess of, well, everyone impressed me mightily. With a glass of champagne, it was quite a nice way to spend a Sunday evening and I look forward to the spring show.

Oh, and from a pure geek bias, I of course approve of opening any gala with two Harry Potter choirs ;)
dancing_moon: Mana looks angsty (Mana)
Yesterday, our language class had organized an evening out for us and the class visited the Blue Man Group performance in Berlin. If one has been to Berlin any time the last years, it's been nigh impossible to miss the ads for this show. However, since it's a) pretty expensive and b) I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it, I've never gone. Good thinking, since I could now go for free!

It was a very loud (sometimes a bit too loud) and colorful show. There were skits I greatly enjoyed, especially the awkward dinner scene, when they began climbing into the audience and the animation/cyber-café parts - the visual trick with the stick-figure that "becomes 3D" was excellent! The late-comers-song made me lulz, and in the skit where one Blue Man has caught a lot of paper tissues (I first thought it was marshmallows!) with his mouth and then puts them on a tray in a, ahem, suggestive shape, I looked to my classmate next to me and with one voice, we declared it Dirrrty! (or rather, Snusk, a Swedish word we are slowly spreading throughout the ERASMUS students in town.

The incessant drumming bored me a bit, and I wish our school could have informed us about just how much strobe-lightning would be used. I guess if you buy a ticket for a show like this, it's on you to be reformed, but when you don't speak the language and are handed a free ticket, it might pass you by. There were warning signs in the theatre, but I'd be quite bummed off if I had come so far and then had to go home again. They might also have suggested earplugs - the show if quite child-friendly, but loud!

Anyway, a very enjoyable experience, absolutely the best excursion arranged by the school and I'm glad I've seen it!

The evening ended at Que Pasa! by Görlitzer Bhf, since it's cheap and decent and we were all starving (nothing by Potsdamer Platz is cheap, btw, though many restaurants are decent. Except McDonald's, which is neither, considering what you get for your money). After a good meal and an excellent cocktail, we turned to the matter of dividing the bill @_@ Oh dear, I think we advanced straight up to advanced levels of Bistromatic maths...
dancing_moon: Jadeite / DM / Me (Default)
Confusion! Verfrämdung! Language meep!

Yes, I am going to the theatre tonight - The Caucasian Chalk Circle

You know it's going to be an interesting performance, when you can't even pronounce the name in its original language... But I do look forward to it a lot ;)
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
Phew, tired & happy! I've walked around above Alexanderplats today, looking for the comic shop Grober Unfug which I thought was somewhere by the subway station Weinmeisterstrasse. Turns out they'd moved up a stop (I suspected as much when I began to see the very fancy stores that are all over the area now, not the kind of neighbours comic stores can usually afford. Alas). But! They'd left a sign behind and with some luck and a few helpful locals, I found them again. Larger store, but quite small manga department. There was many more titles in the Thalia bookshop in that big shopping senter at Alex.

I also had to stop at restaurant Transit for a somewhat too expensive, but amazingly tasty lunch. I honestly only gave them a second look because the waitresses were standing and giggling in the open window, they looked a bit too preppy for me. But, happy waitresses? And Asian food, of some kind of izakaya/tapas variety?
Weeell, I took the chance and don't regret it a bit. 3 small dishes, a bubble tea and a bowl of rice came to about 12 euro and it was among the best modern Asian I've had. Ever.
It was also plenty filling - each small dish cost 3 euro and I could honestly have skipped the rice, except as mouth soothener after the spicy beef salad. I warmly recommend it, and you can get every dish vegetarian too.

Today I also got myself a Tip magazine, which contains info about events in Berlin. (On a side-note, I'm always positively surprised by how much actual written content German magazines have. Even Tip carries several editorials and a couple of readable articles)

Anyway, tonight there was apparantly a free Shakespeare play in a nearby park. Probably one of the more unusual Shakespeare versions I've seen, but a damn good one )

The play was entertaining, more engaging than I would've thought and the only downside was that it was a bit hard to hear what happened sometime, especially when prince Harry spoke, but otherwise I count is as a most successful experience.

There's another show tomorrow, same time and place, if anyone thinks it sounds like fun. And is in Berlin, ehe ;)

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