Since moving to Berlin, I keep telling myself what a busy cultural life I have. However, I don't always succeed to go to theatre with the same frequency as I used to. Maybe I go two or three times the year, which is a level considerably low compared with my love for theatre. After a relatively uneventful year in this respect, I decided last December to book a ticket to the famous Gorki Theater.
How many times I planned to go to Gorki Theater, mostly during the regular festival organized once the year, featuring a lot of Central and Eastern European authors and exploring new identities of young expats, mostly originally from these countries. In the last months, the theater was even more featured in the media, after getting a new management and introducing live English translations of German representations.
Maxim Gorki theater was created in the former DDR in 1952 as a theater for contemporary productions. It turned into one of the most important Stadttheaeters for Eastern Europeans, that slowly moved towards a dissident position. In 1988, Thomas Langhoff staged Volker Braun's A Changing Society, a premonition of the changes taking place soon on both sides of the wall. The production was reintroduced in the program of the next months.
My choice for my first encounter with the theater was a piece signed by Olga Grjasnowa - Russians are the kind of people who like Birch Trees. Similarly with the story of the author, it explores doubles identities - Russian/Jewish in a German environment, translated into work, friendship and love contexts. The production is signed by Yael Ronen, based in Tel Aviv, but a familiar presence on the artistic stage of Berlin, who introduced a lot of black humour and a choice of musical background from the new Israeli singers.
The production is in German, with accurate English translations on two screens on the upper level of the left and right side of the stage.
I was expecting probably more tension and drama, but the happy meeting between the two artists diluted somehow the conflicts, even though the questions are still dancing in the air gently after the show is over. And it is better to continue asking than to insist that there is an answer and clear definitions of identities. Not all the Russians like birch trees, isn't it?
My first visit at the theatre was challenging enough to already plan a return in the next weeks.