I’m not only a resident of Berlin, but an excited audience member. In the few short weeks I’ve lived here, I’ve listened to musicians beatbox into flutes and serenade subway cars with their accordions, watched a spectacle of strobe lights ignite a block filled with galleries during Berlin Art Week, and couldn’t look away from a roller skating duet performing an elaborate dance in Mauer Park. Out of all the performances I’ve seen, my favorites have been the plays. I’ve always loved seeing live theater; both my parents worked at St. Michael’s College and during summers, our family could go and see all the productions, most of them musicals and all of them family-friendly. I’ve never seen a show on Broadway or any type of experimental theater and so both the quality and innovation of theater here in Berlin floors me.
First, my good friend Emily and I saw Hedda Gabler at the Schaubuhne. I knew I’d find it strange seeing a show in German, since I just start learning the language but the barrier from the story helped me notice other amazing things about the production. Just like when one sense is warded off and the others grow stronger, I replaced fixating on the story with fixating on the set—all made of glass and reflective surfaces, with an angled mirror above, a rotating platform, and a wall of glass windows that drizzled water to emulate rain. Also at the Schaubuhne, I saw Enemy of the People. Even though this one had English subtitles, I still marveled at creative choices like a set built with chalkboard walls that the actors drew on, painted over with giant rollers, and pelted paint-filled water balloons at. I’d never seen people interact with a stage like that and I can’t wait to see more shows that push the envelope of design and “break the fourth wall.”
Finally, I saw the world’s most bizarre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (including my fifth grade class’s library production of the play, in which the girls wore paper leaves and the boys refused to dress in costume). The show started at a fountain outside a hospital, but the audience had to follow the cast to new sets throughout the grounds. The best elements of the show included trekking to a green swamp for a scene in some thick woods, watching the actors playing mechanicals putter around the steel skeleton of what looked like an old maintenance building, and jumping out of the way when King Oberon rode into the final scene on a motorcycle.
Loyal as ever to Vermont, I still love the St. Mike’s Playhouse and even kooky Bread and Puppet Theater, another Vermont native theater troop, but nothing yet has topped the already over-the-top and magical plays I’ve gotten to experience here.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Having grown up in rural Vermont, Alli Green now studies art history and studio art at Skidmore College. She stays active on campus by working as admissions ambassador, a tutor in Skidmore’s writing center, and looks forward to assistant costume designing the theater department’s main stage production in the spring of 2014. Her ambitions include pursuing a master’s degree in either art history, museum studies, or library sciences, exploring opportunities to work as a field archeologist, illustrating children’s books, and contributing to the making of movie magic as a costume designer or special effects makeup artist. In the meantime, she is content to get excited about books, movies, art, history, and learning everything she can both while she is a student and after.</span></p>