Eagle’s Next cultural exchange with Theater in der Westentasche

The Clown Watching something in a different language can be alienating or liberating.

Local company Eagle’s Nest Theatre have been collaborating with Theater in der Westentasche from Ulm in Germany and presentied the company in Melbourne this weekend.

I saw the astonishing Thomas Dentler perform Heinrich Böll’s 1963 novel Ansichten eines Clowns (The Clown) about a man in post-war Bonn who has lost his family. It’s a critical reflection on post war Germany, Catholicism and a society that leaves him begging.

With no more German than counting to 10 (make that 5…), I was hesitant (even with the promise of some translation), but us writers have to let go of our dependence on words.

With a stunning use of the warehouse space at Revolt, it was a performance I won’t forget. Without language, the emotional tone of a performance is all there is – and it was more than enough to bring me through his story. Based on the reaction of the German speakers around me, the words were pretty good too.

Without the language, I feel inadequate to comment, but I could easily imagine that I was in an underground German theatre and this is what Eagle’s Nest’s James Adler had to say after the performance:

“Today was one of the greatest experiences of my short creative life – watching Herr Dentler perform tonight was the first time I have ever imagined wanting to apprentice myself to someone – and I mean in the real old fahion way where you learn the form your master has performed and don’t change it – you perfect the form as it was exactly and then one day maybe you add the tinniest detail before passing it on to the next generation.”

They also presented the premiere readings of Dialog with Buñuel by Federico Garcia Lorca and Chernobyl  by Annette Neulist, a German writer and senator.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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