Friday, April 8, 2011

The End is the Beginning . . .

" . . . wir haben wichtige Entdeckungen zu machen. Ich werde mit der Kanone der Wahrheit hervorbrechen und meine Feinde zermalmen. Eines Tages wird man die Wahrheit erkennen. Aber ich sage euch: Nach dem Tod ist vor dem Leben. Das Ende der Utopie ist der Anfang der Utopie."


" . . . we have important discoveries to make. I'll break out with the canon of truth and crush my enemies. One day the truth will be recognized. But I tell you all: after death is before life. The end of utopia is the beginning of utopia . . . "


Two weeks in Berlin passed in a haze like an evening in a smoky cafe. Lots of quality time spent with old friends, and more than a few poker evenings with the boys up in Prenzlauer Berg:

My friend Katja and I had lots of post brunch wanderings through the streets of MItte, and occasionally stepping in to a galerie in Auguststrasse. My favorite of these moments was checking out some pen & ink drawings in said gallery, and meeting the owner's son Florian, himself already a solid art critic at the ripe old age of 3 yrs. There was an installation in the galerie with a television showing a two minute clip from Fritz Lang's Metropolis on loop. And Florian was only too happy to explain to us what was happening in his refined Baby-Deutsch:

"Ja, ja . . .und dann kommt die Maria, und sie, und sie, und sie ist eine Frau, und sie liegt da, und dann kommt der Mann und der Hebel, und dann . . .BOOM! . . .und Maria sie schläft, und dann, warte, und dann . . . "

"Yeah, yeah, . . . and then Maria comes and she, and she, and she is a woman, and she's laying there and then the man comes and the lever and then . . . BOOM! . . . and Maria, she's sleeping and then, wait, and then . . . ."

Just about the most adorable thing ever. And I can only wonder what this kid-who hangs out in a mega-hip gallery watching Frizt Lang on loop will turn out to be like in fifteen years.

I also spent a solid three days touring the museums on Museum Island. Back when I was living in Berlin, every Thursday night from 6-10 the three main museums were free. My friends and I would meet there all the time, wander the hallowed halls and try to solve all the world's problems before heading out to eat and drink the night away. These days, with the 11% increase in tourism in just three years in Berlin, there are no more free Museum evenings. Add on that the last two museums, the Bode Museum and the New Museum (both of which had been closed since the war or the wall) had reopened, completely restored, and not only do you have to pay for these attractions, you have to have a time-sensitive ticket and can only enter during a particular window during the day in order to facilitate the huge demand. Sleepy old Berlin is finally waking up to the world. And there was good reason to wait in line and shell out some euros for the admission:

New Museum

Nefertiti has her new home here, and although you cannot take pictures in her chamber (a lady needs her privacy after all), I can certainly say the new digs are apropos for a woman of her stature.

Bode Museum

The museum itself with its sweeping halls and luxurious furnishings was actually more impressive than the collection.

I saw plenty more theatre in my second week, the highlight of which was certainly Moliere's Misanthrope at the Schaubühne (dir: Ivo van Hove) starring the incomparable Lars Eidinger. He's pretty much the hottest actor in Berlin at the moment, starring in almost all of the Schaubühne's shows, and rightfully so. As the titular character in Moliere's play, he was absolutely brilliant and kept the action soaring right until the end. One of the best parts about watching Eidinger perform is that he has no trouble dropping in and out of character at the flick of a switch. At one point, 3/4 of the way through the show, he was launching into a monologue (and its Moliere so all of it is heightened, poetic, rhyming couplets) and his scene partner had not made it on stage yet. He waited for what seemed like about 40 seconds. Finally he dropped character, said:

"Ist sie auf's klo gegangen oder was?"
"Where'd she go, to the bathroom or what?"

(offstage) "Ich komme!
"I'm coming!"

"Lass dir Zeit!"
"take your time"

. . . then she rushes on stage and as soon as she appears, Eidinger launches ferociously back into the tirade he was delivering a minute before, without missing a beat. Incredible. Also incredible to think that the night before he had performed a two hour one-man show, and a few days before that had played Hamlet. Seeing an actor working in repertory at the top of his game is really inspiring.

Der Menschenfeind by Moliere at the Schaubühne

By far the highlight of my trip was a dinner party at Moss' house last Friday night. He invited colleagues old and new from the English Theatre, and we made a feast of eggplant parmesan, salad, and antipasti. I brought along a very nice bottle of Gewürtztraminer from Alsace, a gift from my Tübinger friends Julian & Sigrun. They had given it to me with the proviso that I drink it with a good meal and good friends. Mission accomplished. We ate and drank and philosophized long into the night, Moss playing piano. Lovely, lovely.

Then last Wednesday it was goodbye to Berlin, though only for a while. I'll be returning in May to take part in the international theatre forum, and it was a good feeling to know that I would coming back again very soon. I trained it back down to Stuttgart, and was able to catch Dantons Tod one last time that evening. It was great to see all my colleagues at the theatre and to see that the show had evolved and settled in over time.

I said goodbye to my roommate Rahel who was heading to Konstanz for the weekend, and had the place to myself for my final 24 in Stuttgart. On my final evening in town, I went to the local corner restaurant to indulge one last time in some Swabian delicacies. A mountain of pork cutlets, Spätzle, and Gemütlichkeit awaited me, washed down with cold crisp beer. Wunderbar.

The trip back was uneventful and before I knew it we were making our descent into Chicago. The last three months had passed like a dream and I was back in the Midwest, finishing one adventure and preparing to start another. Thanks to all of you, dear readers, for accompanying me on this journey. Hope it has been half as interesting to hear about as to experience. I'm signing off, wishing you a beautiful start to your spring full of new beginnings and possibilities.

All Good Things,


" . . . daß diese Furcht zu irren schon der Irrtum selbst ist."


" . . . that this fear of erring is itself the very error."