Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Tag "Theatre"
on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Sarah Hirsch acts as a birthday girl with no guests at her party, forcing audience members to dance with her. (Credit: Vera Yung)

On Thursday, March 8th, the Emancipe Initiative’s interactive puppet play, “The Puppet Show: An Inquiry”, premiered on campus in the Factory gallery space. This initiative, pioneered by first-year EPST student Danny Dubner, and co-lead by academic year student Sara De Monchy, was an opportunity for members of Bard College Berlin to experience non-formal educational practices and engage in a discussion about them. This was only the first instalment of the initiative; it will have more events on campus that involve “philosophy, politics, art and their intersections.”

Read more

Benjamin Sivo and Muhammad Osman Ali Chaudhry (left to right, both BA 2017).

Muhammad Osman Ali Chaudhry is a third year BA student at BCB. I meet him after a rehearsal in the factory to discuss the play he has written, is directing, and will be acting in. The plot is simple, the dialogue dense. It tells of the love story between two young women whose relationship seems doomed from the start. The play brings us into their internal turmoil as communication breaks down and they become increasingly isolated from one another. There is little set decoration but intensely cinematic lighting which fades in and out throughout the play. Osman plays the narrator. A character who remains in the background though he is brought into dialogue with the protagonists in a dreamy surreal manner throughout the play.

Read more

Julia Dittrich

Julia Dittrich

Julia Dittrich is a professor of Theatre Studies at ECLA of Bard. She is part of the visiting faculty this fall term and she is teaching the course Acting and Directing. The course aims to teach students the two different styles of acting prevalent in American and German theatres. In our conversation Julia sheds light on her work before joining ECLA of Bard, and what she hopes to do in the future.

1. How did you become interested in theatre and at what point did you decide to study it?

I started theatre in high school and acted in three plays a year. And to get into college I had written an essay about theatre and Ancient Greek theatre, and how these older stories connected to mankind and humanity in general. I got into Yale University, but in the first year I only took acting as a hobby. Eventually I became a Theatre major and did three to four plays a year.  I was fascinated by the act of live performance because it is always new, always unpredictable, and always a risk. There is always a different atmosphere and relationship between the audience and the performers each night. You cannot predict what is going to work and what is not. There is an exciting energy and vulnerability for the performers in theatre that you do not have in film. I started as an actor and majored in German Literature and Acting. I was interested in German writers and actors, and after college I came to Germany as the place I was to work for needed a director. It was there I started working as a director.

Read more
Schaubuhne Hamlet in Rain

Photo by: Arno Declair

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and yet most difficult tragedies to perform. The reason for this difficulty is the complexity of Hamlet’s character. Often the actors choose one or more idiosyncrasies of character and focus on this, while ignoring the humor and cunning of Hamlet. I once watched a Hamlet who constantly desired to kill his uncle and expressed it through an exaggerated form of anger. Although it is true that Hamlet’s anger towards his uncle Claudius is a key element in the play, an overbearing focus on this can overshadow some other important aspects. Fortunately, German actor Lars Eidinger’s Hamlet had none of these problems in the play that was beautifully performed at the Schaubühne in Berlin on 23rd March (directed by Thomas Ostermeier). In what follows, I will focus on how educational this performance was in showing Hamlet’s character as perhaps Shakespeare would have wanted it to be.

The performance began with the funeral of Hamlet’s father, with all actors on stage attending the event in a comical manner. As they moved around eccentrically on stage, the backdrop showed close-ups of the actors’ facial expressions through a camera which Hamlet was holding. Simultaneously, we heard Hamlet echoing ‘To be or not to be’: ‘Sein oder Nichtsein’. The action then moved onto Gertrude’s marriage and then gradually it focused on Hamlet’s troubled disposition. We see Hamlet as a young man who is suffering from the loss of his father, and grieving over his mother’s marriage with his uncle which has taken place too quickly after his father’s death. Hamlet’s response to the whole situation remains aggressive, yet also very tactful. Hamlet suffers from hallucinatory moments in which he tries to rationalize his grief, yet amidst all this he remains aware of the fact that he has to take revenge for his father’s murder.

Read more
Fragment from the Opera

(c) Monika Rittershaus

The typical image of a visit to the opera is associated with elegantly dressed ladies, men in tuxedos, glasses of sparkling champagne, and polite conversations. However, at the end of February, ECLA of Bard students had the rare opportunity to get a glimpse behind the curtains of the shiny art world, by attending a rehearsal of Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung at the Schiller Theater in Berlin. Götterdämmerung is recognized as one of the most difficult operas to perform, both for the soloists and the musicians.

Götterdämmerung is the final part of Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), an opera cycle by Richard Wagner that also includes Das Rheingold, Die Walküre and Siegfried – altogether around 15 hours of opera. The first complete performance of the Ring took place on 17 August 1876 at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which will be celebrating this year the 200th anniversary of the Leipzig-born composer through a special production of the cycle. Even though Leipzig and Bayreuth will be the main headquarters of the anniversary, Berlin will join in the celebrations as well: local opera admirers will have the chance to experience a production of the Ring cycle infused with video art and contemporary scenery by Guy Cassiers, and to enjoy the orchestra guided by no other than Daniel Barenboim, considered the most prominent Wagner conductor alive.

Our theater visit was preceded by a lecture by Prof. Michael Steinberg of Brown University, who currently serves as a dramaturg to the production of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, and at the Berlin State Opera/Schiller Theater. Those of us who attended the lecture became acquainted with the feats and innovations that would await us during the rehearsal. Upon arrival at the theater, we went backstage and were immediately introduced to an entrenched superstition: one shouldn’t wear hats or coats on the stage, it brings bad luck! After we got rid of the ill-fated apparel, members of the production team gave us a short backstage tour: we sat in awe in front of a massive set for Verdi’s Aida, and were captivated by fragments of video art and a plastic sack with bloody prop hands used in Götterdämmerung.

Read more

Taken from an English One Act Play called' The Tree''

In 2010, I received my BS in Economics from the Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore, Pakistan. After graduation, I enrolled in ECLA of Bard’s Academy Year to further my studies in philosophy. I was so engaged with academics at ECLA that I never quite had the time to reconnect back with Kinnaird. Due to this lack of introspection, I always spoke about my undergraduate experience rather absent-mindedly, emphasizing its colonial history rather than sharing my personal connection to it with others. That was until I unearthed some photographs that chronicled my experiences during that time. Revisiting these images reminded me of my struggling years at Kinnaird, where I learnt to fully speak my heart and mind. I spent four years at Kinnaird, playing various roles sometimes in the theatre and at times outside of it.

Read more
Photo: Valerie Pochko

Photo: Valerie Pochko

Every actor has to constantly try on imaginary masks in order to get used to one role or another. My personal experience of wearing a real mask hovers around playing a fox at a school masquerade and being a phlegmatic zombie at some random Halloween party. But how about wearing a big and stifling mask while speaking, singing, dancing and jumping within a two-hour stage performance? Commedia dell’Arte turned out to be a magnificent way to appeal artistically to the audience, and one of the most physically exhausting, unique and hilarious theatrical practices that I have ever experienced.

Read more
Romeo Castellucci - Four Seasons

Photo: Christophe Raynaud de Lage (WikiSpectacle)

“Please, don’t forget to take earplugs”—the girl with a tray of small blue things made me feel nervous even before Four Seasons by Romeo Castellucci started. However, the aural risk didn’t scare off Berliners and tourists alike – the show was entirely sold out.

Castellucci is originally from Italy but has created most of his performances in Avignon, France. As a result, he has been well-known and widely discussed for more than 10 years in these regions. As a follower of Antonin Artaud and his “Theatre of Cruelty,” Castellucci produces an eclectic mix of Greek dramatic plots, contemporary visual arts, technical installations, and revolting naturalism.

His Four Seasons is an homage to American artist Mark Rothko, who withdrew his paintings (totaling a surface of 600 square feet) that were originally meant to decorate the fashionable Four Seasons restaurant in 1958. Rothko returned the money to the Four Seasons and let the paintings live a solitary life until they were later exhibited in the Tate Modern Gallery.

Read more