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Drama Transcends Language Barriers

11 MAY 2012

published in: Drama

Irina Brook and Sam Shepard (Photos: Patrick Lazic)
“My first encounter with Irina Brook took place at the Bouffes du Nord, the legendary theater of her father Peter Brook, where William Shakespeare’s The Tempest was being performed. I don’t speak French at all – and I was swept off my feet!!! Language barriers? Not in this piece, which is rich in images and poetic, but funny at the same time. The actors from Italy, France, Australia and Poland are also virtuosic comedians, clowns, musicians, singers and dancers! The Tempest is presumably the last piece ever written by Shakespeare for the stage. In the figure of Prospero, the magician and ruler over a small island, he takes his leave forever from his theater, his genius, his active life. He breaks the magic wand and closes the book of spells forever. It seems to me that no playwright ever took a more touching leave of his audience.

However, Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is also definitely worth a visit. Young Peer, a braggart, incredible liar and dreamer, leaves the Norway of his childhood after his mother’s death, abandoning a fairy-tale world inhabited by trolls and sinister figures, but most importantly, leaving Solveig, the love of his youth. He is driven out into the world, searching restlessly for himself. As an old man, he returns – without having found himself. The ego, he concludes, is an onion. Peeling away layer by layer, a core is never revealed. Everything seems to have become pointless, until he meets Solveig again outside the door of her hut – she has waited for him quietly her entire life. In her arms, he falls asleep and dies.

In Peer Gynt, Irina Brook works once again with an international cast: the Indian dancer and actress Shantala Shivalingappa plays Solveig and the Icelandic actor Ingvar E. Sigurdsson plays Peer – further performers hail from the Lebanon, Japan, France, Australia and Italy. Again, acrobatics, colorful imagery and music will play a large part, making this “Norwegian Faust” easily understandable for any audience in the world. Another special feature of this Peer Gynt is that the song texts and poems were written by Sam Shepard.

The spoken texts will be subtitled in German in any case, so that you know at any time what is being said. However, I already believe that you will not make much use of this! These productions are meant to demonstrate how our neighbors all over the world can enrich our lives – if we are ready for it.

I would be delighted if I have managed to arouse your curiosity!”

Sven-Eric Bechtolf