Berliner Volksbühne: “Sturm und Drang” as a major project in Literature – Culture

It may seem like a wise decision to create chaos rather than a big decision following a great example. For example, when Bert Neumann and Aleksandar Deni set standards in landscape art in a place like Berlin Volksbühne for decades that are hard to surpass. Now the team of French director Julien Josselin has committed to a project that basically sounds like the typical megalomaniac of Volksbün theatre: to bring a “history of German literature” to the stage over the course of several seasons. However, the picturesque execution is done in great humility prior to the tradition of the house.

For the first chapter of this stage seminar, dealing with “Sturm und Drang”, theater designer Lisetta Buccellato quotes all the elements of a typical Denisch rotating stage, divided into an informal settlement style. The house in Wetzlar where young Werther meets in Goethe with Lottie looks like a crib playing stable with floral wallpaper. The famous Elephant hotel in Weimar where the real Lot, i.e. Hofrätin’s widow Charlotte Kestner, née Buff, signed up after 44 years to see Goethe again, is a plywood construction, adorned with grandmother’s lampshades and pork oil from the flea market . . The Biedermeier favella is located behind the facade flap with painted windows – a completely disappointing curtain, which is usually largely covered by a huge screen. Because Gosselin, in the style of former Volksbühnen manager Frank Castorff, the cameras hid most of the events and moved to the front.

The sites have already given him: Jocelyn’s first chapter of his History of German Literature is called “Sturm und Drang”, but it actually deals with Thomas Mann. His novel “Lotte in Weimar” forms a framework for Jocelyn’s own assertion that one can say something about the wretched years of German language geniuses Goethe, Schiller, Kloppstock, and Herder by simply referring to Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. This, in turn, is done from the perspective of Thomas Mann’s Mikado-like patience prose of Eternal Box Sentences, where all the stormy romance and urgent exaltation are softened in the breeze of careful observation.

The poet’s hysterical fan base is on fire at the Elephant Hotel in Weimar

It is Gosselin’s first directorial work in Germany, and he has drawn attention with a new quote from “Elementary Particles” by Michel Houellebecq and a 12-hour version of “2666” by Roberto Bolaño. It starts out like a decent literary movie. More than 30 years after the end of Goethe’s Sturm und Drang period, Victoria Quesnel did not initially meet the role of Lotte as the grizzly poet, only a hysterical fan base. The impudent owner of The Elephant, played by Hendrik Ernst as the obtrusive truth of a horror comedy, and grumbling poets in classic high-necked costumes (Caroline Tavernier) delay the long-awaited confrontation forever.

It’s still fun at first, for example when he confronts Penny Clesins as Adlatus Riemer in poor Goethe Lotte in a soliloquy that they’re both victims of Goethe’s selfishness. The sentiments from the Werther film recorded in Blümchenstall, which are narrated back and forth with Weimar episodes, evoke memories of the author’s film when he treated the birth of a German genius madness in the eighteenth century in historical clothing. Marie Rosa Tetgen as Werther succeeds in an astonishingly serious empathic study of the illusory character of flowery emotion.

Live video projections like Frank Castorff. And there’s a Volksbon hero from the past again: Martin Wootki! He plays the role of the ancient poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

(Photo: Thomas Oren)

After an hour and a half of waiting in vain for the evening’s theme “Sturm und Drang”, the story turns even further in Thomas Mann’s direction – after which Blasey prevails. Rosa Lembeck performs the beginning, middle and end of Death in Venice as she wanders the diminutive scene, then finally Goethe actor Martin Wootke, albeit Aschenbach, a doomed Man hero with a passion for children, so tired, staggering and boisterous, takes part in this journey. Which is useless to Venice.

Most recently, Wuttke played Goethe’s Faust in Volksbühne, in the 2017 production of Castorf’s famous Farewell. Anyone who aspired to a kind of continuation of his game, now playing Goethe himself, has experienced the polite portrait of frail old age: Johann Wolfgang von Wöttke. Moaning, annoying, in a bad mood, the writer, spoiled by the glorification of genius, is alarmed only by a possible confrontation with his obsessive past. As a non-magical man, he claims that Lot is not Lotte at all, and then argues about German at a dinner with his pupils.

Evening lectures lasting about four hours with these citizen segments from “The Lot in Weimar”, in which Thomas Mann unambiguously depicted Hitler in 1939. In a production period half its length, this was perhaps an occasion to reflect on the structural similarities between ” Geniuses, poets and dictators. With this chaotic restraint, Jocelyn’s performance drains patience both dramatic and theatrical, it sadly awakens nothing but agonizing memories of better times: when Folksbon’s paranoia, despite greater perseverance, still made a real difference.

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