Two further notes apropos yesterday’s show:

– Dialect
Horvath’s play is set in Vienna. People speak, if not quite in dialect, at least with a rich smattering of dialect words and speech forms, diminutives in particular. None of Thalheimer’s actors sounded remotely Viennese (I haven’t looked at their bios to see whether any of them are), but they all retained those words and speech forms. Sometimes they delivered them in a way that highlighted their quaintness, pausing slightly before the words, squeezing them out in a deliberate, even mocking tone.

In a more naturalistic setting — and in almost any English-speaking theatre — the effect would have been bizarre: it would likely have read as a group of German characters making fun of the way Austrians speak. Here, on the other hand, the method highlighted the characters’ constructedness: they didn’t read as any less “Viennese” (whatever that may mean now), but as less “real;” the actors and their non-Austrian selves didn’t disappear into the role but remained highly audible as the bodies and the identities through which the characters — the figures, the roles — attain what presence they might have on stage. Aurally, these characters were both there and not there.

– Place
Closely linked to the dialect issue, nothing in the staging was designed to convey any clear sense of place, at least not in a way that would have allowed the audience to delegate the work of the imagination to the production. Where we are in general (Vienna) or in any given scene (the Vienna woods, a quiet street, Alfred’s mother’s house, etc.) is a matter of where and how actors position themselves on stage, but it’s the audience’s responsibility to figure it out; when all of this takes place is almost entirely impossible to determine, nor does it seem to matter (needless to say, all the costumes are vaguely contemporary) — the point being, I think, that “this” physically takes place on stage, nowhere else, and if we want to imagine it taking place elsewhere, among characters rather than actors, well, that’s our business and our job as audience members.

One Response to Berlin, Day 2: Postscript

  1. David ferry says:

    Very engaging dramtravalogue….keep those cards amd letters coming.

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