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 December 2008 - Nr. 12

Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica

This fall the artistic endeavours of German related venues were such a multitude, it was hard to keep up. We reviewed a few for you.

First there was the end of the Stratford season with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s play Emilia Galotti, a production of renowned director Michael Thalheimer of the Deutsches Theater Berlin. The play was first staged in 2001 and was invited to be performed all over the world since then, calling together on and off the great cast. For 3 days this play in German language was performed by some of Germany’s finest stage actors at Canada’s Shakespearian Valhalla, the Stratford Theatre. Language was not a problem factor in this production that largely relied on symbolism to relate a modern version to a modern audience the human condition as described in the play.

Emilia, played superbly by Regine Zimmermann, is silent in this version of the play, she is uncertain of her purpose in life, torn between her duty to her parents and her suppressed desires of the flesh. Nearly motionless and frozen in her indecision she wanders through the play on an empty stage that looks like a huge box with a multitude of doors on either side, signaling the many choices one has of coming and going or hiding.

Henning Vogt as the besotted Count Appiani manages to explain to the audience an all consuming desire for the innocent Emilia, and with his often contortion like body language, how he is in need, for love or just sexual pleasure is not always clear, but certainly his game is conquering.

Emilia’s parents played by Katrin Klein and Peter Pagel further display a domestic structure that is archaic and destructive, plagued by a lack of communication.

When there is talk it is in staccato like tones and speeds, in monotonous values, like rapid machine gun fire. It becomes a marvel to see that some of it actually can be duplicated by the other person, or how it becomes misinterpreted, especially in the scenes with the counts lackey, the Chamberlain Marinelli, who thinks nothing of getting his hands dirty for his count. The fantastic timing and he body language employed in this drama is a much more telling vehicle for the ensuing debacle. There is a scene between the count’s previous love interest, the scorned Countess Orsina, played by the amazingly talented and multifaceted Nina Hoss, that we have seen in "The White Massai" in 2005, and just very recently in "A woman in Berlin", the story of the mass rape and abuse of the women in Berlin when the Russians conquered the city. Meeting up with Pia Kleber (r.) and the starsIn this scene she demonstrates how a woman can decimate a man because of his physical desire, what power a woman can have over a man via sexuality.

Sonja Griegoschewski has a captive audienceThe message in this play is loud and clear and reflects our current society exactly: lJohn Wilkinson, M.P.P.ack of ethics and morals, the seeking of instant gratification, the lack of communication, and because of this the isolation of people into loneliness. It came to Canada because of the tireless efforts of a tireless team at the Goethe Institut. Jutta The stars listenBrendemühl, first under the direction of Dr. Arpad Soelter and now under Sonja Griegoschewsky, is carving out partnerships in the Canadian cultural landscape that honours Germany’s legacy and Consul General Holger Raasch listensphilosophy of great art and intercultural exchange. This became especially apparent at the after-reception when who is who in the political and cultural arena mingled and gave glowing speeches of this unusual co-operation. A true first was celebrated and we hope it was not a last one. SFR.


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