Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 2 - Let’s talk about Theatre

For the whole month of September we will be given the opportunity to see good theatre with well known theatre companies from Turkey. The theatre is very close to my heart and in my lifetime I have met with many theatre people worldwide. There is a deep urge in some people who grow up and discover that they want nothing but act, and they start to observe the mimicry of others in certain situations, they watch their steps and emotions, they absorb the researched details of human life to be able one day to bring it alive again on stage; they study for many years all disciplines of self control, they offer themselves entirely to the theatre, as an entity. In the old Greek days the amphitheatre was the centre point of a community in order to entertain people and sometimes to distract them from political wheelings and dealings. Theatre was a necessity for the people in the Middle Ages to learn what was going on in the world; the travelling bards were the first entertainers in the early middle ages, then travelling theatre groups and later, the courts in Europe had their own little precious theatre stages. In France, King Louis XIV went on stage himself when he was 14 years of age and danced with the Royal Ballet in the role of the Rising Sun. Due to this event he was called ‘The Sun King’. Then, theatre became a highly appreciated meeting point for the society, one went to see and be seen, to meet with the actors and actresses backstage and many of the theatre girls became famous mistresses and glamorous figures of the demi monde. In large measure the modern Western theatre is based on the Ancient Greek theatre with their terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements. Theatre changed with the times and besides entertaining it adapted the role of admonishing and educating, teaching morals. Many great plays have been created and many famous actors and actresses have made these plays unforgettable. Thus, I have never forgotten one play at the Theatre in Munich when I heard Martin Held in Bertolt Brecht’s Mr. Puntila and his man Matti. This actor made the play, with his voice, low but reaching all corners of our hearts, his mimicry, he would not have needed to talk. The paragon of perfection, for me his name stood for the high art of acting. In times of trouble the theatre attracts people the more, as on stage problems can be brought to the surface – being protected by the unwritten law of the freedom of the arts - nobody else dares to speak about. Literary people, playwrights, directors and actors often dared to go to the very boundaries and surpassed them often enough, so that they had to flee their country. Often they landed in America and started to try their luck in Hollywood, often as playwrights and many had to live from the help of friends and colleagues who had made it. I have read many books, biographies telling the sad stories of their lives. Where is theatre today? There will always be people who love and support their theatre, but do we really know what these theatre people often dare for us by speaking out loud the truth, although protected by the mask of the role? Can they go home and lead a normal life after having given all their energy into a play? Have you ever thought of what these theatre people feel when they go offstage, remove their stage make-up and go out by the backdoor, how they spend the night after having given all their energy to a figure in a play? What do they feel? Have you thought about that? It is much more comfortable to watch a play on television, I know. Published in Cyprus Observer

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