Die Maßnahme / Die Perser

Last Saturday I saw „Die Maßnahme / Die Perser“ at Schauspiel Leipzig directed by Enrico Lübbe. The evening united two very different plays of as well very different authors. “Die Maßnahme” is a play by Bertolt Brecht which premiered 1930. It’s about a communist party and the loss of individuality for the cause. The story of a young comrade is told who is at first confirm with the activities of the communist party, he believes in justice and the fight for communism. But reality makes him struggle, he can’t see how individuals suffer without trying to help them which leads to his betrayal of the party. He leaves his suborder and wants to fight as a man and not as a part of the mass.

All actors wear masks and gloves to cover their personality as well as a blond wig not counting if they are male or female. Even their movement is synchronous, they don’t play individual roles but they step into certain scenes to present us their story. Before these scenes begin each participant tells whom he will embody which changes before the next scene. To the action on the stage, a chorus based in the lodges is added, who represents the communist party. They have their conversation “on top of” the audience, they discuss over our heads without being visible once. The play is entertaining to watch, many elements of Brecht’s interest are implemented just as defamiliarization or the epic way of storytelling. What is also striking is the scenery which is at the same time very minimalistic and cool but in combination with a video production by fettFilm effective and authentic.

Just during the final picture the second piece is starting, a mid-aged woman is entering the stage obviously is she initiating the plot twist, wearing an old-fashioned antique costume with a pair of shoes who define the meaning of “plateau heel” in a very uncommon way. A long monologue is starting and it won’t be the last. “Die Perser” is the oldest play which was ever received, it’s one of the famous Greek Tragedies by the poet Aeschylus and was probably first staged 472 BC. Although it is very interesting for history it is kind of strange to see it combined with Brecht’s piece as it represents everything Brecht wanted to reform. “Die Perser” is full of endlessly monologues, offered reports and historical data.

Something I was definitely not prepared for after more than one hour of a very different theater before. I would have needed a short break between the two pieces to refresh my mind and then dive into ancient Greece’s war stories. This is the reason it took me some time to really follow the plot, but fortunately, the chorus saved me at last. It’s overwhelming how many actors participated in this double production, the second chorus who is added during “Die Perser” includes at least 30 singers. But with all this vocal power the meta-level is leaking. Although Brecht titled his play as a “lesson” and Lübbe transmits this subtitle two both parts of the evening the pedagogic potential is only scratched and not exhausted. Too much schoolbook acting instead of real emotions and the patience to guide the audience to critic, self-responsible thinking.

Picture by Warren Wong

Text by Verena

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