Torsten Schilling presents the world premiere of Heinrich Schwazer’s winning play in the South Tyrolean Theater Association’s Authors’ Competition “Das Eine und das Andere. Stories of love and death.
by Pia Ogresic
“No one will remember we were here,” Austrian band Viech sings, hearts beating to their somber rhythm in this piece. A piece that does not tell a continuous story, but rather combines eight miniatures, eight snapshots, and eight stories into a mosaic of stories about love and death. Heinrich Schwarzer’s winning authors competition for the South Tyrol Theater Society’s play, “The One and the Other. Stories of Love and Death” on stage.
Director Torsten Schilling has selected eight out of a total of 12 episodes of the winning script for the world premiere at the Bozner Carambolage. Four actors – Liz Marmsöller, Patricia Pfeiffer, Hans-Jürgen Bertram, Horst Hermann – slip into a variety of roles, come on stage in pairs, and only the last scene is a monologue.
what are you playing? life dying? live death? In any case, life – on stage as in reality – rushes to us like a movie. It begins with a quick succession of images that are projected to the back of the stage, filling the wall. They show hundreds of snaps of older individuals, groups and couples, who sometimes look happy, sometimes less. This juxtaposition of anonymous images suits the music, whose sad and true lyrics reflect the tragic comedy of our existence, or what we believe. As older couples, who could be parents or grandparents as we remember them, give viewers a glimpse into the intimate moments of their love lives, the flow of images gradually slows down, then stops at what seems random like bingo slot machines, accompanied by the sound of a roulette ball. The last picture is “framed” and shows the person coming on stage. The image disappears, the stage (reconstructed by Kirsten Kall) is pitch black, there is no beam of light too much, only a square box, which takes a different function from scene to scene (tombstone witness, restaurant table, double bed or apartment door), serves as stent.
Schilling’s guiding idea of not only arranging the individual stories but allowing them to slide into each other through the flow of images gives them a common space. Every face is a story, every song is a story, in the end I saw hundreds of stories.
The common thread that ties the stories together is the eternal longing for love in every situation and the question: What are we talking about when we talk about love? Once there is a widow and widow reveal themselves in the grave of their wives who committed suicide. They ruthlessly admit that they are implicated in lies. “A selfish fool!” Liz Marmsöller yells angrily after her husband enters the grave because he is forcing her to live as a liar from now on so that she will not be ostracized as a suicide widow. “I have never lied to my wife. Only her death makes me a liar,” said the man photographed by Hans-Jürgen Bertram.
A woman can no longer sleep with her husband because he eats meat and feels death wandering when he is inside her. “When you’re inside, I hear dead lambs, pigs, chickens, calves, and cows, I feel all the dead meat inside me that I’ve eaten. Cold, dead meat rushing at me. I feel death rushing around me,” says the woman (Patricia Pfeiffer). Then again, she tries. Lonely hearts get closer via social media and talk to each other in real life: Hans-Jürgen Bertram and Horst Hermann simulate a romantic date that couldn’t be funnier.
Humor can counter death and make life more bearable. Sadness and intelligence go hand in hand, the daily madness of love. Schilling’s play and dialogues remove the existential weight of the stories and turn them into sad comedies. The dramatic becomes easy, the silly becomes serious. The characters are never silly, but they are human and likable. Sometimes the lyrics remind us of Dürrenmatt’s tragic song, and then again the humor resonates in Vienna. Strange events, taken from real life, like an elderly stalker who smashed a statue of the Mother of God because he didn’t save the life of pop idol singer: Liz Marmsöller literally shines in the role. The same is true when, as a widow, she wants to follow her beloved dog to the dog cemetery rather than the family grave, thus saving the life of a person who is tired of his own.
The viewer feels caught up in childish patterns of behavior when he watches Horst Hermann and Patricia Pfeiffer in the roles of a failed couple renewing forgotten and broken wedding vows through the locked apartment door so they don’t die alone. “Till death do us part, you promised!” She screamed through the door as a penitent adulteress to persuade him to accompany her to the euthanasia because some “cancer asshole” would kill her anyway. Although they look like Hartz-4 types, losers and winners alike describe these guys as condescending – she’s wearing her crazy leggings (Sieglinde Michaeler and Walter Granuzzo costumes) and he’s on his beer crate – past love and living to death has one for him Unbreakable dignity. And the last word belongs to the stone.
A huge acting challenge for all four actors, mastered with flying colors and rewarded with a long applause at the premiere.
The piece can be seen at Carambolage in Bozen until May 21. www.caramabolage.org
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