Tuesday, March 3, 2015

100 Grad - Sunday ('Catastrophe Sunday')

'The road to hell is paved with good intentions', thought your correspondent, as I wearily arrived at HAU 2 about 90 minutes after planned, panting from a long (8.6km) walk from Pankow to Kreuzberg. After having my original plan to catch the free shuttle service from nearby Ballhaus Ost - the third venue in 100 Grad - foiled by that venue not having any events on Sunday (and therefore no bus) I decided that Sophiensaele was not too far by foot, and kept going. Waiting for half an hour for that bus from Sophiensaele to HAU, my destination, I experienced 'nature calling', and ran inside for 5 minutes, only to find that the bus had chosen those particular five minutes to arrive. Deciding that now both my planned 5pm and 6pm shows were a write-off, I saddled up again, and continued walking to HAU, briefly taking in, by force, the tourist delights of Berlin.

Gotta get that bike fixed for summer...

Hamlet Private

My good fortune finally came when I somehow caught Hamlet Private, a piece of international  microtheatre directed by Helsinki-based, Swiss-born director Martina Marti, and which had just six performances during 100 Grad over a three hour period. The work has been in Berlin before 18 months ago, and has 'toured' internationally through several different performers in different European countries. It's a one-on-one performance, and can be performed anywhere with a table, two chairs, a candle and a deck of specialised playing cards. The performer (a mystical Claudia Schwartz) sits you down and explains to you that Hamlet is 'inside the deck of cards', and then proceeds with a kind of customised tarot reading that incorporates elements of the play.

It's possible to read Hamlet as being a play entirely about Fate. The references to free will and autonomy are littered throughout the text, taking on new resonance these days by the fact that the play is so well-known, and therefore that any audience comes to it knowing, in some sense, their fate. There's a sense of inevitability about Hamlet's death drive, he is in some ways a character waiting to die, intuitively deducing that this is the only way to really resolve his inner crisis of identity and authenticity. Even a surface reading of Hamlet reveals a play obsessed with mortality. 'To be, or not to be' is at once a simple musing on the false choices that constitute an existence under sufferance. After all, if the choice is between different ways to suffer, that is, indeed, no choice at all.