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'Bürgerliches Trauerspielat' by Wieland Schönfelder at BPA Space, Cologne

Bürgerliches Trauerspiel

It is the opening night and the theater is almost completely full. The schedule for tonight says: "The golden cat", a german play that was first staged in 1768 and is classified as a so called ‘bourgeois tragedy’. After a strenuous rehearsal period and a completely unsuccessful dress rehearsal, the director has retired to the canteen and will not watch the premiere himself, instead drinking a bottle of white wine until the curtain falls. It is now in the hands of the actors. 
In general, he is very dissatisfied with everything. Actually, the play was supposed to take place in a castle, but the stage designer and the dramaturge were able to prevail themselves and have turned the stage design into an outdoor setting. Now there is a huge gnarled tree, a wheel, a sack of grain and many more things on the stage. Symbols. He doesn't want to remember exactly. At least the costumes are mostly historically correct. Somehow, he likes it that way and he is almost grateful to the costume designer that he seemed to lack any vision and individual creative will. 
It would have been a mistake, he was told, to stay so close to the original text and not to comment on the tragic conflict between the nobility and the bourgeoisie from a contemporary perspective. But what was that supposed to be? What has he got to tell about the so called presence? 
Indeed, he is well aware that the bourgeoisie, the middle of society, is in a deep crisis. That excessive individualism is reaching its social and ecological limits. That no one seems to be able to give their feelings an appropriate weight. That the barbarity does not end. Consequently, that the Enlightenment project is in danger of failing and dragging the morally degenerate, modern citizen with it - into the abyss. We stand at the end of a long, fatal chain. 
That's how the dramaturge explained it to him and he could only agree. But still the director stuck to his thesis: the message unfolds through the characters, based on the situation described by the author and less frequently in the text itself. The actors' work consists of authenticating all facets of the feeling. The form of psychological acting reproduces the bourgeois ideology of a subject who, as the owner of its competencies, can never be master in its own house. The never-ending struggle between the soul side and the rational planning side, between instinct and reason, is brought to a kind of perception in which the subject appears as a single poisoned treasure. And he adds: Brecht is not his thing. 
Ultimately, he never really understood his art and kept getting caught up in contradictions. But the theater has always been a place of pretending and totality for him and he has always tried hard to evoke honest, lively intensities not only in his audience but also in his ensemble. And both of them were always grateful for that. The inner infinity spreads around the plot like a sea of ​​tears... The time has come. The play begins. The first sentence can still be heard very softly through the loudspeaker of the stage manager: "Oh, you're crying again, again, sir." 

— Wieland Schönfelder

11.3.22 — 29.5.22

Photo by by Oskar Lee

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