“I would like to see more contemporary works in the theatre”
My favourite piece of history is the stage set from the 1972 production of Ulrich Plenzdorf’s “The New Sorrows of Young W.” The story is set in East Germany and the main protagonist is Edgar Wibeau, a young man with artistic ambitions who falls victim to social pressures. In both East and West Germany, it was one of the most widely shown productions of its day.
The stage set brings a production to life
I have always been fascinated by stage sets like this one. As an actor – and even more so as a director – it’s an exhilarating moment when you see the set for the first time. The production comes to life, and the space takes on a concrete form. The set can be used to precisely plan who will stand where on the stage and what movements they will make.
I have never been involved in a production of “New Sorrows”, but I did read the book at school, where it was a set text. Although I didn’t know at the time that I would go on to become an actor, the idea of the failed artist made an impression on me on some level. I then experienced it first-hand later on. When you choose an artistic career, there is always a risk that you will fail or end up feeling misunderstood – or that you simply will not be able to pursue the career you had always dreamt of. Fortunately, my career turned out differently to that of Edgar Wibeau.
Yet another version of “Romeo and Juliet”?
Personally, I can relate much more to Plenzdorf’s work than its literary inspiration: Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther”. Although I think it’s a good thing that works like these are still valued and shown, I often wonder how many more times they have to be stretched so that they just about make sense in the modern world. Do we really need yet another version of “Romeo and Juliet”? These pieces have been done to death; they’ve been set in the present and the future, acted out in modern costumes and shown on completely empty stages.
Instead, I would like to see more modern pieces being written and performed that are relevant to the world we live in. I am always keen to discover new authors who get to the nub of the relevant issues of their day – just as Goethe and Shakespeare once did. I think that Plenzdorf’s “New Sorrows” was so successful because it did exactly that.