News from the ESM Players: Romeo & Juliet

It’s been a few busy weeks and we’ve accomplished quite a lot. Let’s start with our poster, designed by the wonderful and talented Clarisse Bourgoin.

As you can see, we stuck with our colour themes red/blue. Soon we can lift the secret as to what these colours designate. Well, you might be able to guess when you see our team photos…

Next, we finished our trailer. Hurrahhh! Taking full advantage of this mild winter, we were able to shoot it at the European School — and mostly outdoors, too. Well done Clémentine Zimpfer, creative adviser for the trailer, and Léa Mayoral who stars at the narrator/Chorus.

And finally, we’d like to present to you our three teams: red, blue and black. Can you guess who’s who?

Team Red — The Montagues

Mercutio is just too stylish in his Hawaii-shirt, how could anyone not want to be his best friend? And Lady M sure knows how to wear sparkle. Benny’s always ready for some good joke, while Romeo is going through a tough time at the moment — Rosaline didn’t text him back…

Team Blue: The Capulets

Did you spot Tybalt’s tattoo? Better not mess with him. And what about Lady C’s makeup? Very eighties, she surely rocks that look. Peter has always been the Hippie in the family, but Lord C doesn’t really care much. Juliet and Nursey are best friends and share all their secrets. Until one day…

Team Black — The Prince, County Paris and the Citizens of Verona

Team Black is all about installing order in Verona. Or, at least, if they can’t do that, marry rich Capulet’s daughter (Paris’ cunning plan), or marry rich Capulet’s daughter to someone different (Sister Laurentia’s cunning plan). The Prince would prefer just a bit of peace occasionally, and not having to use his whistle all the time (guard your ears). Chorus and Co-Director just try to keep the story rolling. Spoiler alert: it won’t be a happy ending.

And then, there is this important prop. To some it’s just a football, to others it’s a dangerous weapon while someone will be biting their thumb at someone else…

What it all has to do with Romeo & Juliet? Stay tuned….

ESM Players — Safety first.

Romeo & Juliet is a fight-laden play. There are three scenes in which fights take place, one scene that features a fake death and, we thought, why not add another one? So we will initiate the production with an unusual scene that is not originally part of R&J (albeit it, it is originally by Shakespeare, we promise!).

Our actors have a lot of fun with their theatre daggers, but before they may use them to rehearse the fight choreographies, they rehearse with rather unusual items. Anna-Maria, AD, is very keen on having the actors be comfortable with their movements and blocking before she hands out the theatre daggers. She explains that first she has the actors dry rehearse in slow motion, to emphasise and set blocking. Then they get their ‘replacement daggers’ — and since everyone shows up with their school utensils, what better to use than good-old highlighter pens. Only when neon-green and neon-pink have made it safely into the choreography, will Anna-Maria hand out the real props. And this we do every single rehearsal. We’re not there yet, but with the coming months ahead of us, by March it will look quite like the real thing.

Here’s a sneak peek of Tybalt (Lise) and Mercutio (Malou) — in slow-motion. The bags around the two actors, you ask? Well, you need to get the actors used to the proper stage dimensions of Galli Theater.

Video: Anna-Maria

Reminds you of something? Monty Python and The Holy Grail?

ARTHUR: Look!

BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.

Schauburg/Die Verwandlung — Opening Night: bugs, bugs, bugs. And one Kafka.

Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt. Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken und sah, wenn er den Kopf ein wenig hob, seinen gewölbten, braunen, von bogenförmigen Versteifungen geteilten Bauch, auf dessen Höhe sich die Bettdecke, zum gänzlichen Niedergleiten bereit, kaum noch erhalten konnte. Seine vielen, im Vergleich zu seinem sonstigen Umfang kläglich dünnen Beine flimmerten ihm hilflos vor den Augen. »Was ist mit mir geschehen?«, dachte er.

Kafka, Die Verwandlung

Schauburg Programme Cover

And there it was — opening night for Die Verwandlung! And us not only in the front row, but also represented with selected texts from our workshop.

Jan Friedrich’s take on Kafka’s text is an interesting collage. Not only does Friedrich work intertextually when implementing various scripts from Ibsen and Woolf, he also opts for a deconstructional approach: the Samsa family’s house gets literally taken apart during the 2,5-hour-show, so does the family itself and even the transformed Gregor is represented by a triple-bug played by three actors in pink bodysuits — Janosch Fries, Simone Oswald and Michael Schröder. The figure three is, as in the original text, continually taken up in the production — dismantled and then put together again.

Transforming an epic text into a dramatic one, especially one that relies so heavily on a narrator as Die Verwandlung, is always a challenge. Friedrich solved this challenge by having the various characters of the family take over narrative parts, therefore presenting the story not only out of one perspective, but out of multiple ones. The audience therefore is forced to put the puzzle together themselves — which character’s rendition of the events can one trust? To deepen various perspectives, the production employs medial means — a live camera projection of specific scenes is projected onto the outside of the Samsa house, and at one point, onto the torso of one of the three bugs. These images create a certain voyeuristic atmosphere, since these scenes rely heavily on intimate and private moments of the various family members. The only set-back would be the delayed and mismatching sound in these medial scenes.

While the set was rather puristic, the characters themselves were presented in a much louder fashion, much resembling the Simpsons. Painted in yellow, with oversized wigs made of foam rubber and wearing huge, bulging eyes, they appeared grotesque. Emotions were expressed through language and gestures, facial expressions could not be deciphered. Their puppet-like appearance could alos very well signal a dehumanized family unit.

The first half ended on one of the bug-actors seemingly in dialogue with himself, slipping back and forth between Mother and Son. The son, notifying his mother of a disease that would gradually degenerate and kill him, begs his mother to help him to end the torture. The mother though cannot accept her child’s death and therefore refuses to help him die. A harsh moment to be released into the break. After the intermission, the audience is faced with a new transformation, one into the reverse — from bug to human being, from bug to — so it is implied by the actor wearing a ‘human’ mask — Kafka himself. Notably this character stood out against the others because it appeared and looked as the only human being in this production, but also felt like one. At some point, all three bugs morph back into one entity and, void of any energy and determination whatsoever to stay alive, willingly allow themselves to be squashed by the house’s roof. The roof now sitting prominently on stage centre, turns into a hill-side area, with the remaining family members — father, mother and daughter — forming a holy trinity and frolicking about the future. Fittingly, the evening ends with the Maid chiming into the Beatles’ “Here comes the sun…”

All in all, it was an evening with some excellent acting and much conversation to ensue in the classroom. Thank you, Schauburg & team!

Texts written by ESM students as presented in the Schauburg Programme

Und es war ihnen wie eine Bestätigung ihrer neuen Träume und guten Absichten, als am Ziele ihrer Fahrt die Tochter als erste sich erhob und ihren jungen Körper dehnte.

Kafka, Die Verwandlung

Greetings from the ESM Players 2019/20!

It’s September — which for some means autumn is around the corner. For others it means that the ESM Players get together and don their costumes for the next Shakespeare show. So, let us introduce you to this year’s Team Shakespeare!

Those who have followed us for the last four years will spot some familiar faces. This year’s Assistant Director will be Anna-Maria (top, left corner), who has been the ESM Players ever since they had their humble beginnings. And back then they weren’t even called the ESM Players. So, good to have you back on the team!

We also welcome many other familiar faces — and many new ones. Welcome to the ESM Players family.

We will post weekly updates from our Shakespearean Journey, and next week we will announce our play and, of course, the casting. Stay tuned! We’re looking forward to entertaining you with another great Shakespeare show in March 2020.

Follow us on facebook and at #esmplayers.

May the Bard be with you. And us.

Romeo & Juliet — Farewell & Thank You!

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Photos: Tom Hafner

Photos: Dora Lutz

A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

And farewell friends, thus R&J ends…

Thank you, everyone, for making this happen — and a big THANK YOU to our great audience!

Romeo & Juliet — Performance Week 1

So it finally happened, performance week 1. We are very proud to be listed as a Kulturtipp by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Münchner Wochenanzeiger, as well as one of the ten things to do in Germany this July by The Local. So what are your excuses not see us?

What a week! Outdoor theatre holds a lot of surprises, from dogs and small children running onto the stage, to (un)expected rain showers — and sometimes to having an opening night in a hut.

Since the weather gods were not in our favour for our premiere, but we still didn’t want to disappoint our audience, we spontaneously turned opening night into a command performance for 26 audience members, when we moved it into our backstage/storage hut. We set up the Capulet and Montague towers, the tomb, altar and even managed to bring Juliet’s bedroom alive — and all this without ever rehearsing an indoor version. That’s great team work! Below you will find a few impressions from that night.

Photos: Dora Lutz

If you have missed it, here is a review from audience member, Michael:

mit noch feuchten füßen, und augen, schreibe ich diese zeilen. auch wenn am ende noch der klang der gläser stand, heute bevorzuge ich das echo des gesehenen und gehörten. das besondere fand seinen anfang schon im außen: regen. auch wenn ich meine finger 6 tage lang kreuzte, krämpfe mit eingeschlossen, der himmel tut, was er will und so wählte er den ort für dieses schauspiel. und so fanden wir uns im inneren eines art zeltes, gerade so, als säße man selbst in dem turm von julia, so als ringe man selbst mit all den gefühlen die sich in den wunderbar besetzten rollen nach außen stülpten. es war nah. und gibt es einen besseren ort für all das ringen um die liebe, als die enge, die einem herzen gleicht? wo capulets und montagues ins herz hinein- und hinausströmen, wunden hinterlassen und es beschwingen, manchmal im lachen, manchmal im weinen und der glaube hilflos dazwischen steht? und im zentrum weilt ein bett und eine gruft…beides todesnahe orte…und zugleich frieden-bringende. 
so sind diese worte noch trunken von dem erlebten und die geschichte die schon hundertmale erzählt und durchlebt wurde, erlebte ich heute wie das premierenspiel, so frisch, als wäre shakespeares feder noch feucht. jede rolle fand ihren passenden lebenshauch, wie wunderbar sie nachhallen: romeo und julia, vorallem aber meructio, friar laurence, county paris und julias amme. wähle ich morgen die montagues? auf welche seite werde ich mich schlagen? auf die seite der liebenden! habt dank….und alles endet mit einem tanz…

And although the whole week was a mixture of sun and (sadly, quite a lot of) rain, we managed to perform in the open — our actual venue.

Photos: Dora Lutz

The weather gods seem to be more in our favour next week, so if you haven’t seen R&J yet, you still have a chance!

Tonight, 14 July and 18-21 July, 7pm, Theatron, Westpark

Romeo & Juliet — Week 10

This was our last rehearsal week before premiere. It meant pulling everything together, polishing the last few rough segments, being quicker for entrances and exits, being snappier and line biting. And it hath been done. Ten weeks of a Shakespeare journey are about to come to and end and find its culmination in eight performances (should the weather gods be with us — we really would like to break the spell of the six performances!).

And thus it is time to introduce the two households, much alike in dignity. Men in tights, ladies in long (often long-sleeved) dresses — you can imagine how this feels in 40 °C. Hot. We think they also look hot. In a good way. As a matter of fact, in a fabulous way.

So let us start with the Capulets.

The Capulets – Team Red — Photo: Dora Lutz

(From left to right, top to bottom: John, Jennifer, Helen, Tai, Sophie, Helena and Shreyas)

John (Capulet) has been with Entity for over 20 years. He has played various roles, from Him personally to being killed by an ungrateful stepson last year (he played Claudius in Hamlet). This year he repeats the father role, hoping not to be killed this time.

Jennifer (Lady Capulet) also has been with Entity from the very beginning and has filled almost all positions in Entity at one time or another. This will be her fourth Shakespeare production.

Maria (Juliet) pursues Japanese Studies and has come to Entity through this year’s workshops. It is her first production with the team.

Helen (Nurse) is of Irish and German descent. She joined Entity in 2016 and has played various roles. This year she is excited being in the midst of feuds, fights and love. (And yes, together with Friar Laurence, she pretty much is responsible for the love complications in this play.)

Tai (Tybalt) is back in his fourth Shakespeare production. Being stabbed behind the arras last year as Polonius with the ominous line “Oh, I am slain”, he gets to do some stabbing this year. Without ominous lines. When not on stage, he works in advertisement where you are strongly discouraged from stabbing anyone, except in the back.

Sophie (Sampson) is half French and half German and previously appeared with the ESM Players. This year she has tgd pleasure of biting her thumb at the Montagues.

Helena (Gregory) is originally from Finland and moved to Munich in 2019. This is her first Entity production. She also bites her thumb at the Montagues. Until someone gets hurt. Oh well.

Shreyas (Peter) is from India and this is his first experience with theatre. We think, he is doing a great job!

And thus, let us turn to the House of Montague.

The Montagues – Team Blue — Photo: Conny Loder

(From left to right, top to bottom: David, Claire, Megan, Susan, Luiza)

David (Montague) is from Oregon and was bitten by the acting bug in 2006 when he played a soldier in the Wyrd Sisters. The rest is history.

Claire (Lady Montague) is from Australia. She joined Entity in 2016 and loves to be creative, offstage as well as onstage. (She is our costume designer — and we are in love with our costumes.)

Sara (Romeo) is from the USA and has appeared in numerous Shakespeare productions with Entity, playing Rosalind, Lady Olivia and Rosencrantz. She also is thrilled to bring her swordplay skills to the Entity stage. (Our sword fights are AMAZING.)

Megan (Benvolio) has played several roles, among them, Lady Macbeth. This is Megan’s first Entity production.

Susan (Abram) is of Irish descent. She has been a member of Entity for several years. She is excited to be doing some stage combat for the first time.

Luiza (Balthasar) is from Brazil and studied Drama and Literature. She has filled many theatre positions and in her free time, she enjoys writing lyrics and rapping.

Sara as Romeo & Maria as Juliet — Photo: Conny Loder

And thus we are one final dress rehearsal away from presenting to you a wonderful production — swords, poison, love, rock ‘n roll. Join the fun!

11-14 & 18-21 July 2019 at 7pm at Theatron, Westpark