Germania Tod in Berlin - The lost sex

Premiére date15 Apr. 1989
Produced byBaktruppen
CoproducersBIT Teatergarasjen, Henie Onstad Art Centre
Based onGermania Tod in Berlin by Heiner Müller
AudienceAdults, Youth
Number of events35
LanguageNorwegian and English
ExpressionsPerformance, Theatre, Multidisciplinary, Lecture
Running period15 Apr. 1989  —  14 Dec. 1992
Duration40 min
WebsiteBAKTRUPPEN

About Germania Tod in Berlin

Germania Tod in Berlin (1989)by Baktruppen was based on Heiner Müller’s stage text by the same name (the latter is translated to English as Germania Death in Berlin). Germania Tod in Berlin was produced in connection with the exhibition 150 years of photography in Henie Onstad Art Centre in 1989. Germania Tod in Berlin represented Baktruppen’s international breakthrough.

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More about Germania Tod in Berlin

Germania Tod in Berlin brought Baktruppen to Europe and made the company known; it was the company’s international breakthrough, and it was performed in important festivals and on important arenas in Europe: Odense, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Zürich, Brussels, Berlin. The production had its world wide premiere in Henie Onstad Art Centre at the occasion of the exhibition 150 years of photography.

The text discussed themes from German history, Stalinism and the post-war conditions in East Germany. Baktruppen attempted to adapt the text to Norwegian conditions and to connect it to Norwegian identity through elements such as music, the head of an elk and a Scots pine. The stage was a long diagonal counter upon which the text was paraphrased as a lecture on Norwegian history. Seven persons stood by a wall. Upon a ball opticon images were shown. The performers talked, sang and went through the post-war period in which betrayal was unconscious and private. Everyone stood alone, with a vague utopian idea about standing together. Photographies were taken.

In Germania Tod in Berlin Baktruppen used the text in a new and experimental manner by using new dramaturgic tendencies in visually based theatre. The company wanted to add a new energy and new direction to theatre, as compared to a more conceptual dramaturgy during the 1980es.

In an information sheet about the production, written by Baktruppen, the following is said:

"As a learning play written for humans made blasé of terror; Germania Tod in Berlin stands as a compilation of the fiascos of German utopias. The expression is Brechtian and the material is history.

What is sensitive material for a German (Eastern/Western) audience is an oddity in Norwegian public life. In the process we have concentrated on a mutual trait; the post-war betrayal against pre-war ideals. Müller’s text has a materiality in its layers of time, and this materiality has no Norwegian parallel. Hence we have attacked oblivion, flight, the immaterial.

This has become a lecture with the subtitle The lost sex. The expressionist mocking song of Georg Heym has been replaced by the Scandinavian sentimentality of the Norwegian poet Claes Gill. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos is reproduced in a negative version and is contrasted by a processed Morning Mood.

From the interlude Night Play the text is broken up and abstracted. Technique is reduced to a minimum. Only the performers’ bodies are able to resist the fascism of the text. Müller’s utopian keynote is privatised.

In a rehearsal room near Die Spree the concept was created. In rural surroundings by the fiord outside of Oslo, Oslofjorden, it was made. The production was made connected to the exhibition 150 years of photography. Every scene is photographed and the story becomes fixed: Conditions become history and the moment disappears."

The text to Germania Tod in Berlin was printed in the book Lærestykker 1990 (literally: Learning Plays 1990), published by the publishing house Oktober forlag in 1990.

Germania Tod in Berlin was supported by The Fund for Performing Artists, the municipality of Bergen, The Nordic Centre for the Performing Arts/Nordscen and The Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs/MFA.

Sources:

Knut Ove Arntzen and Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk, ed. (2009). Performance art by Baktruppen. First part. Oslo: published by the publishing house Kontur forlag

Baktruppen, 31.12.2010, http://www.baktruppen.org

Baktruppen’s archive. Donated by Baktruppen March 4 2011.