Monday, June 10, 2013

One month later...

     Last night marked the one month anniversary of my first introduction to German theater. On May 9th we saw Theater HORA perform at the Theatertreffen. As many of you already know from reading previous blogs, Theater HORA is more commonly referred to as "disabled theater", given that all the actors in the company have either a mental or learning disability. Although the piece that Theater HORA performed was not my favorite play that we saw in Berlin, it is usually the first one I tell friends and family about when they ask me about theater in Germany.  
     It makes sense, if I was telling my long string of trip anecdotes chronologically, to begin with Theater HORA. But I begin with "disabled theater" for another reason. Theater HORA represents the antithesis to American theater. Theater HORA's composition is unconventional. Its themes are discomforting. Its staging is idiosyncratic. In short, Theater HORA is not afraid to push the envelope. This is not to say that American theater has never pushed the envelope. Rather, the bulk of American theater--particularly mainstream American theater--usually pushes the envelope without crossing over into political incorrectness. Yet, it is only when a play crosses over into the politically incorrect that the public is confronted with the stark realities of life--realities that American audiences usually don't want to address.
     I appreciate Theater HORA because it is not afraid to attack an audience's sense of appropriateness. And although I cannot convey the full meaning any piece of German theater to a friend or family member who asks me about my trip, I believe that "disabled theater" conveys the best message of German theater as a whole: nothing is taboo.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Some Pictures and Also How I Love Everyone

I had the opportunity to use the Holga camera-one of the manual cameras Janet bought for us-and got my roll of film printed. I think they turned out pretty well! Here are a few of those pictures:

A church tower exposed over a view of the sky (I think), as well as some text (seen most clearly on the right side) on one of the reverse monuments Carol showed us on her tour. The text is a list of the names of the people in one car within a train sent to a concentration camp. 

A statue I liked - I can't remember where I saw it or who it is. Just another example of Berlin's offhanded and secret beauty-the kind of stuff you just have to stumble upon to see.

A view of the sky above covered by trees with an oasis of light, exposed over an outdoor wall right by our apartment filled with different advertisements - the one that stuck out was "ICH WILL KEINE WINTER MEHR" (or, I don't want any more winter). I like this phrase not only because it is just an interesting request but also because it's not something easily translated into English. The statement loses some of its power and definitiveness in English-one of those things that just makes more sense in German, like Waldeinsamkeit-another word I learned on this trip-which means the feeling of being alone in the woods. 
German is so cool sometimes. 
Well, all the time.

Probably my favorite photo that I took. Just a great view of the always-present Fernsehturm. Whenever we weren't sure where we were in the city, we could always look up and around for the Fernsehturm to get our bearings. 

I've been home for around five days and the luxury of getting to lay around all day and do nothing and eating gross fast food and getting free refills in restaurants is already starting to wear off, and I find myself missing those fast-paced days in Berlin. But more than anything else I miss the group I got to experience it with. Our group, to me, was a perfect one to travel and learn with. We were all open to each other's thoughts and ideas, we respected each other's opinions, we got in debates and appreciated the other's perspective. I felt comfortable sharing my poetry with this group-not something I'm always down for-and when we were exposed to heavy topics like during our tour of Theresienstadt or of the Stasi prison, I could feel us learning together-gaining a more complex and thoughtful understanding of the history we were standing on. 
I remember walking through the Jewish memorial on our very first night, the setting sunlight casting stark shadows across the cement as I brushed my hands along the giant blocks that made up this memorial and thinking, Oh my god, this actually happened. It was the first time the reality of the holocaust had really hit me-where it really actually processed for me that six million people were murdered and that this country has to deal with that remorse every day. I was walking through this labyrinth of stones, darkness descending on the monument, suddenly processing this tragedy and feeling-as the architect of the memorial probably designed-very isolated and alone, when I ran into Janet, also walking through. And I told her how affected I felt, and she said said she felt the same, and suddenly I didn't feel as on-the verge-of-tears, because I had somebody else that I felt comfortable sharing this with. That's what this group was for me-the opportunity to always have someone to talk to, whether it was about your feelings after walking through a former concentration camp, or how you hated or adored one part of a play, or how you'd lost your contact lens and didn't know what to do about it--it didn't matter-someone was always there to listen.
I am so thankful for this trip and for the group I had the opportunity to experience it with.

(It's not everyone, but I love this picture) 

Thank you guys for everything,