Thursday, 18 June 2009

Postcards From The Road - Mannheim

A note of caution to start, one of the images lower down this post is of the Schillertage 2009 publicity campaign - which some people may find quite strong, featuring, as it does, a very new born baby. Certainly the woman who stopped as I was taking a photo of it felt it was a bit too strong... or that it was weird that I was taking a photo of it, or both. But first, clocks.

The clocks at Frankfurt Airport railway station are all in sync - to the second. There are perhaps 8 along one platform, perfectly in time. Doesn't really tranlate to a photo of course.

We needed to borrow some furniture for Homo Ludens from NationalTheater Mannheim. When we made Stage An Execution for NationalTheater's Schillertage 2003 we got to explore their costume store (although we ended up making the costumes from paper) which was suitably impressive. We actually rehearsed Stage An Execution in this building, that also houses the furniture store, although we didn't come and explore that time. This floor is tables, cupboards and sofas (plus those two grandfather clocks). We needed chairs or stools, too: there's a whole separarate floor of those. They had to pretty much drag Lucy and I away before we started staging Presumption there and then.

Homo Ludens is a collaboration with the wonderful TiG7, which is both a company/producing house and receiving house. They are one of 5 independent, or free, theatres in Mannheim. The free theatres have their own strand of Schillertage, which is called Schwindelfrei. There's no direct translation into English - or no equivalent single word at least. It's a pun (kind of, I think), and it translates as 'freedom from the fear of heights'. And all of their print is vertigo inducing op-art, which you can get a taste of here.

The theme of the whole of Schillertage this year is the idea of play and the playful human. Whilst I was there the advertising campaign went up - some posters using the Schiller quote that 'man is only truly a man when he plays', and also these new-born baby posters.

I asked our collaborators from TiG7 if there is any ambiguity about the phrase 'Spiel starten' - could it mean 'start to play' - but they said that although it hints at that, the over-riding meaning is as it it looks - 'Start Game' - enhanced by the computer game style graphics. This image, and the slightly sinister undertone, really got under my skin whilst I was there. Very powerful marketing. I think our work offers a more optimistic counterpoint to the slightly bleak reading I have of this image. But as that bleak interpretation is mine, maybe that idea is somewhere in our piece, too. We'll see.

No comments: