27.08.2012

[en] Carpe Jugulum Theater play in Hanau, Germany

In DWM#184 there was an announcement for a theater play of Carpe Jugulum after the book by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Finally a theater play in Germany! I've been scanning the announcements in DWM for years and longing for a performance somewhere locally. And local it was, Hanau is only 40 km away from where I live. I wouldn't have missed this under any circumstances!

I did a bit of searching beforehand to find out about the actors, and the web search brought up a theater group but I was astonished to find them "Die Dramateure" located in Zurich, Switzerland. Since their agenda did not include Hanau I assumed there's another group not yet appearing with their own web site, thusly not known by search engines. And yes, "Die Dramateure" is also the name for a group of students of the "Hohe Landesschule" in Hanau. (The contents of the page seem a little bit outdated but I include it anyway for your curiosity).

And now for something completely different: let's talk about the play!

The play took place in said school, and though it was not crowded it was very well attended. The weather was very hot and humid, kind of tropical, with still more than 30 deg. C (nearly 80 deg. F) in the evening. The play started 19.30, with a short break at around 20.30, and finished at 22.00. In the lobby you could buy some beverage and snacks which was absolutely fine concerning the weather ;)

Since it was a school play most of the audience were parents and other relatives of the actors, plus perhaps some teachers. I admit I didn't investigate if any other visitors dropped in after reading the DWM announcement.

In one short sentence: it was absolutely great, and I loved it as much as my children (9 and 12). My 12-year old daughter just started reading Pratchett (I suggested to start with "Nation", in german "Eine Insel"), and she already knew some Discworld details from me. My 9-year old son didn't know anything about Discworld, but knows everything about vampires ... or vampyres which is more modern ;). They enjoyed the play as much as I.
If you're a keen Pratchett reader like me you know that the story basically takes place at two locations: King Verence's castle in Lancre where the baptism of the royal baby is about to be celebrated, and the d'Elstyr's (Magpyr's) castle in Uberwald, where the final showdown happens between the witches and the vampi^Hyres. I was at a loss a little bit because I only read the english books since "Pyramids", and so I realized quite late that most names are translated in the german books. For example the Omnian priest (Quite Reverend Oats) is "Mächtig Himmelsang" in the play (which translates back to something like "mighty song of the heavens").

The stage had a very minimalistic setup, but the actors made it appear like the real castles in our imagination. Nanny Ogg was the most present actor on the stage, followed by the narrator who introduced the audience to the Discworld and also gave some explanations throughout the play (he also played Verence sometimes ...).

My son and I liked the Igor most who did a wonderful job of crouching and lurching, and saying things like "the old mathter wath a real gentleman" (of course he lisped in german). The next best was Igor's dog Thcrapth ("Fetzen").

Although Granny Weatherwax is per definition the most present witch ever she was a bit underrepresented in the play and her voice and appearance could have used a bit more power. Oats did a very good job of showing his doubt about knowledge and belief and the final fighting scene between him and the count was graciously "[censored]" by a huge poster carried by two stage helpers.

Agnes and her second self Perdita were played by two nice young girls dressed alike and Perdita was a wonderful inner voice to Agnes. There were some fine-grained local adaptations which were well accepted by the audience, notably the bridge guard spoke a sort of hessian-turkish lingo which was very funny, and the Magpyr castle dungeons were called "hola dungeons" (hola being the abbreviation for the Hohe Landesschule).

In general I recommend the theater group of this school and I hope that they will come up with another Pratchett play in the future. I have little hope though because some of the actors were in their finals or even had left the school but returned for the play. Kudos for that!
The audience gave long and well-earned applause and standing ovations.

The website is a bit old-fashioned and promises to get updated real soon. In the lobby were ads for other theater plays like Shakespeare's "Sturm" but I cannot tell how you could access the agenda unless you have personal connections to the school.