The Blue Raccoon

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mutation: Berlin
My prolonged absence was caused, first, by the general demands of life and work, then, the humble Blue Raccoon got flagged for some preposterous reason as a "spam" blog by Blogger, and there is no freaking way, no telephone 1-800 number to tell them I am not a spammer. I'm a muser. Big difference. I resent, as a personal affront, that there is not an actual person to whom I can register a complaint. Anyway, as the billion-eyed audience can see, now we're in the air.

So beyond my Interwebs annoyance, I was consumed by wistfulness for an international theater experience that originated out of Berlin, Germany, which sought during 2003- 2004 to bring together the numerous talents of theater throughout the world. This globe-girdling experiment was called Mutation.

The Mutation Project created performance events in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Shanghai, and Richmond, Virginia.

Directed by Dirk Cieslak, Mutation's process relied upon Internet communications and based scenarios transferred to performance upon a category scheme built into a blog maintained by the project. I fell in love with Berlin, a beautiful wounded city like my own Richmond.

The collage above was in the Sophiensaele studio theater of the Lubricat company, and you can see the Firehouse Theatre in the second row, in the last image.

Images, taken by Amie and me. No Berlin is not sinking by the stern -- I don't know why this wouldn't load right. That's me with Bridget, flying the Firehouse flag; then Amie with Swiss performer Miriam Fiordeponti, whose stage presence ignited each of her scenes; and there she is--in motion--with Dirk, the guy who came up with this crazy Mutation idea.

Mutation came to Richmond due to the connection of architect and film location director Isaac Regelson to Richomnd-born performer Ami Garmon, who knew Dirk and Dirk wanted to represent a part of the United States that not everybody knew. Isaac acted in Mutation--his first ever time on a stage, and he acquitted himself quite well. Ami's taken her art throughout the United States and Europe.

This delightful young woman exhibiting her right to bare arms is Luz, an Argentinian, who was a production assistant for the massed Berlin mini-festival of all the productions from the individual Mutation sites, and the the final Mutation -- what we'd call call now -- "mash up."

This is Flaming June, actually, she's a very tired production assistant named Ulla. She's leaning on the shoulder of actress Bridget Gethins.

Save Our Planet. The sentiment is emblazoned on a preserved section of the Berlin Wall lining the Topography of Terror, which was the location of the SS headquarters and torture chambers.

During the Nazi era, the Prinz Albrechtstrasse offices weren't a secret, undisclosed location. The Gestapo's presence was listed in the tourist guidebooks of the period.

The view below shows some of the interpretive plaques that discuss in detail the cold machinery employed to murder, torture and otherwise exterminate millions of people, another surviving portion of the Berlin Mauer, and visible at top, one of the few surviving Nazi era buildings, which housed the offices of -- wait for it -- the Luftwaffe. Now its the administrative center for a bank. How weird must that be for the vice-presidents and secretaries. But in the tradition of European adaptive reuse, even this stoic remnant of the Hitler time can be made to work in peaceful life.

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