Between my travel and reviewing schedules, I decided not to be involved in the Ludwig Maximilian University English Drama Group’s fall or spring productions. But when fellow American expat (and excellent actress) Jessica (who was in a 24-hour play with me earlier this year) planned an informal collection of scenes, I knew I had to participate. I’ve been missing the stage! Rouven, another member of the group, posted an open invitation to do something from The Revenger’s Tragedy, and of course I jumped at the chance. (I performed a scene from this absurd Jacobean revenge tragedy in my Advanced Scene Study class in undergrad, and the play is so much fun.) We picked a scene between the Duchess and Spurio. The Duchess, angry at the Duke for failing to interfere and save her son (who is on trial and facing capital punishment for rape), plots revenge. Spurio is also bitter towards the Duke for making him a bastard—if he had been “cut a right diamond,” he would be next in line for the dukedom. The Duchess happens to be in love with her stepson Spurio, so she decides to seduce him (and thereby cuckold her husband) to both satisfy her lust and get her revenge.
In costume and ready
The Duchess looks on in amusement as Spurio makes bitter, bawdy jokes about how big his dick is and how much stamina he has
Spurio finally consents to the Duchess’s desires
We performed the showcase on April 18, and I think our scene went pretty well. The showcase itself was quite varied. Some scenes were carefully rehearsed and directed; others were more thrown together. Azey directed a fabulously modern and physical Petruchio-Kate scene from Taming of the Shrew. Other pieces came from Midsummer, Richard III, Cyrano, Alice in Wonderland, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. We also got a musically questionable but undoubtedly enthusiastic rendition of ‘Agony’ from Into the Woods. It was all good fun!
Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera is much more a musical than an opera. But it decidedly isn’t a play, and that’s what director Christian Stückl and the Volkstheater seem confused about. Their production is almost very good: the acting, sets, and costumes all impress. But pacing issues and a failure to give proper attention to the music keep it from being entirely successful.
As soon as I decided to accept my Fulbright in Munich this year, I researched two things: theater and opera. I knew there was a lot of art to see (after all, that’s why I chose Munich), but I also wanted opportunities to get involved. The amateur opera scene turned out to be non-existent, but the amateur theater scene here is pretty vibrant. There is even an English-language company, Entity Theatre! (I don’t think my German is good enough to get me cast in German-language shows.)
Entity won’t be casting a new play until winter, but last weekend they had a fun event: a 24-hour theater festival. Basically, you give some groups of actors guidelines and tell them to return in 24 hours ready to perform a short play. In that time, they have to write it, direct it, learn their lines, make acting choices, collect costumes and props, plan a simple set, do a quick tech run, and maybe even catch a little sleep. I’ve done it before, but we had a dedicated writer/director that time, so there was a bit less pressure on the actors. Not so in this case!