From the Feuilletons


Theatre critic Gerhard Stadelmaier attacked at Frankfurt premiere

Gerhard Stadelmaier is the most famous and most feared theatre critic in Germany. One theatre in particular is disliked by him: the Frankfurt Schauspiel, known for its drastic stagings full of blood and violence, occasionally directed at the public. Now the critic himself has been attacked at a premiere.

In Saturday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Stadelmaier describes in outraged terms how the actor Thomas Lawinky stole his notebook at the premiere of Eugene Ionesco's play "The Killing Game" at the Schauspiel theatre in Frankfurt last Thursday. In the course of the "action-theatre" performance where the actors interact directly with the audience, Lawinky tore the writing pad from Stadelmaier's hands and yelled as the critic was leaving the theatre: "Get lost, asshole! Go to hell!" Stadelmaier writes that "this attack on my freedom, which is nothing less than the freedom of the press" left him deeply distressed: "Nothing like this has ever happened in the theatre. Never in the thirty years of my career as a theatre critic have I felt so besmirched, so abased, so insulted - and never have I felt such deep sorrow about the state of the theatre."

In an article entitled "The Consequences", the FAZ quotes from a letter written by Frankfurt mayor Petra Roth to Elisabeth Schweeger, artistic director of the Frankfurt Schauspiel, stating that she was "aghast" at the "inexcusable occurrence. (...) Not only the freedom of the press was violated. What is at stake here is much more: a physical assault must be responded to with legal action." The mayor goes on to write that the actor should be dismissed as a matter of course. The paper reports that just before going to press, it received a press release from the theatre, explaining that "the actor's engagement has been terminated in an amicable way."

Writing in the Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday, Peter Michalzik is not in complete agreement with the way FAZ has represented the case. "Thus a theatre is told what it has to do - in the name of freedom of the press, for which the FAZ supposedly fights. Now critics are firing actors, via mayors. Very nice. It's not my freedom, dear FAZ, dear Mayor, that's being defended in this way. Actually, I have more the feeling that my freedom is being considerably reduced." Michalzik doesn't mince words about the mayor either. "One rubs one's eyes, regards with bewilderment this soapiness in the highest office and wonders what kind of pressure the FAZ exercised on the mayor. One can only explain it with the coming municipal elections in Frankfurt."

The Berlinale draws to a close...

The Berlin International Film Festival came to an end on Sunday. In Monday's Berliner Zeitung, Anke Westphal calls the decision of this year's jury "Salomonian". In awarding "Grbavica" the Golden Bear, a film is being honoured that "is political, but in the private realm; a film that admonishes, but in no way agitates – and which doesn't orient itself directly to the news. In this way, among others, it distinguishes itself from Michael Winterbottom's 'Road to Guantanamo' and Jafar Panahi's drama of oppression, 'Offside', although one must pay due respect to the fighting spirit of both of these directors as well."
Here links to all the Berlinale winners.

Writing in Monday's Tageszeitung, Cristiana Nord is not entirely happy with the films selected for official competition at the Berlinale: "Last year in Cannes, Michael Haneke, Atom Egoyan, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier, Jim Jarmusch, David Cronenberg and the Dardenne brothers were all there. By comparison, the Berlinale competition programme with Oskar Roehler, Pernille Fischer Christensen and Michele Placido doesn't cut too good a figure, even if past masters like Claude Chabrol, Robert Altman and Sidney Lumet contributed with well-rounded late works."

Monday 20 February, 2006

Die Welt, 20.02.2006

Ralf Dahrendorf concludes from the election victory of Hamas in Palestine that free elections don't actually mean democracy. "Democracy in the sense of free elections within certain rules does not allow the rest of us to say the cause of freedom has prevailed and we can walk away. On the contrary, democracy is a long-term task. Some say it is achieved only once a country has passed the 'two- turnover test', that is, two changes of Government without violence." (the full text in English can be read here)

Saturday 18 February, 2006

Die Tageszeitung, 18.02.2006

Niklaus Halblützl is effusive about Rene Jacobs' reconstructions of works by Claudio Monteverdi at the Staatsoper in Berlin. After "il ritorno d’ulisse in patria", Jacobs has now staged "L'incoronazione de poppea", which premiered on Thursday. "In Jacobs' hands, Monteverdi's music is contemporary in the best sense of the word. Its rules exclusively serve to express immediate feelings, it relies on no canonic knowledge and no operatic conventions. It simply tells what goes on in a human soul, often breathlessly, uneasily, with constant changes in tempo. Often it's not especially uplifting, sometimes it's agonising and even painful, sometimes tear-jerkingly delightful. It is neither good nor evil, it is music: that apparently is Monteverdi's invention which continues to move us today." - let's talk european