Request Programme / Wunschkonzert
An iconic play by Franz Xaver Kroetz
Berlin Theatre Festival
This production, mounted in late 2008 in Cologne, was jury-selected as “one of the ten best German-language productions of 2008”, and consequently appeared as part of the Berlin Theatre Festival programme in May 2009.
Following previous collaborations with director Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre (London) creating hybrid film/theatre adaptations including Waves (2006), Attempts on Her Life (2007) and …Some Trace of Her (2008), DoP and video designer Leo Warner (59 Productions) visited Cologne in November 2008 to create a new production of this iconic play by German writer Franz Xaver Kroetz.
Wunschkonzert features at 02:36
Mitchell’s show – the word is hers – employs live video alongside live action – a technique for which Mitchell, together with her artistic collaborator Leo Warner, has become increasingly well-known, most recently at London’s Young Vic, where she produced a multimedia version of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas.
In Wunschkonzert images from a video camera are beamed onto a large screen with calculated, almost forensic objectivity, the audience’s gaze shuttling between the live performance by Julia Wieninger’s Rasch and its counterpart on screen. She moves around her one-room flat, from the kitchen to the living room via the toilet, while, elsewhere on stage, other actors and musicians busily create filmic close-ups as well as intimate sound-effects – the rustle of her coat, the scrape of a toilet brush. It is fiendishly complicated: all the players have to remain synchronised, often when they’re completely out of sight.
The evening unfolds like a ballet, like a meditation on filmmaking. It is unlikely, however, that anyone in the audience will perceive it in this manner. What you feel much more fully, is the seriousness and the dedication with which the last testament of a life of ennui is represented visually. Mitchell stresses that the imagery on screen and its interaction with the stage creates a psychological undertow; the many closeups give even the small and silent things a threatening dimension. As agents of everyday life they tax the lonely Miss Rasch. Even a knife, a phone or a cup can become too heavy to lift…
This new production of Kroetz’ social indictment received thunderous applause from the audience in Cologne’s Schaulspielhaus on Friday…
At the center stands a spectacularly unspectacular suicide: A middle-aged woman living alone comes back from work into her modest but cozy little apartment. She eats dinner, washes dishes, hears on the radio the “Request Programm”, prepares for and puts herself to bed. Some time later, she goes to the medicine cabinet and takes an overdose of sleeping pills.
Lysander Ashton (59)