According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Heiner Muller: A Man Without A Behind

This is a very difficult review to begin. Where do you start with Müller anyway? Whether you are reading a text, staging a production or viewing one, it all seems to evade interpretation and conclusion. I’ll begin with some evident points as a viewer. First, this is one of those things you will like or loath, depending on your curiosity and tempering towards theatrics of a more “artistic” persuasion. By artistic I mean that Müller is a master of post-modern mixology, crossing wires all over the place in the creation of work that pries at the individual audience member’s brain, as if to say “What do you think about this? And what about this? And this? ...” and so on and so forth, in a relentless, yet soft push towards who knows where and what. Does this make sense?

Having been in Berlin in February, and experienced the ultimate post-modernity that is this capital, the premise of this work seems more accessible to me and much more interesting then perhaps to someone with out interest in the turbulent history that is Germany. This production recalls a dark sub-basement club in Mitte, where I had the pleasure to view a drag-queen cabaret amidst the exhalations of smoke machines and flickers of disco confusion. Within the Castillo Theatre’s lair, we dipped into bacchanalia, vaudeville, spoof broadcasting, and expressionist theatre. It was brash and haphazard; at once striking and erudite, and crude and amateur.

One thing that I can say for sure, the cast all love Heiner Müller and are dedicated to staging his complicated, elusive intentions with assertive vision. Their passion for the work, the sheer fact that America can connect and open itself to the darkness and living history of these works is heartening and enough to engage my wonderment and appreciation. In conclusion, despite certain choices in staging, despite some very oddly interlaced advertising for the theatre’s mission (like communist propaganda), I very much enjoyed the Castillo Theatre’s production. Somehow it all seems apropos; like Sarah Kane, it is all interpretation and a big gamble. The Castillo’s production was an American venture into a very German thing, risky and brave and, I think, successful.

March 17-April 22, Castillo Theatre, 543 42nd St,, 212 352 3101

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