Luleåbiennalen 2018
17.11.2018~17.2.2019

Konferens
15~17.2.2019

Performing The Third Reich by Charlotte Beradt
Anja Scheffer
“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
“THE THIRD REICH OF DREAMS”
“I awoke with the feeling that our existence has being changed. In my conscious time I felt that we could escape the worst, but my subconscious knew better."
“Fear implanted in the hearts”
“People began to terrorize themselves”
“Voluntary participants in this systematic terrorization”
“I dreamt I had a child by an Aryan whose mother wanted to take the child away from me because I was not pure-blooded Aryan. ‘Now that my mother is dead,’ I screamed, ‘not a one of you can hold a thing against me any more.’ ”
“A classroom, very, very large, like an auditorium. I was sitting on the left end of the very last row – the school director in front on a dais, higher than the rest, looking partly like my old school director and partly like Hitler - in fact, he was called Dictater. We were having our lesson on race. Standing next to Dictater, but on a lower level and facing the class as a specimen, was Paul. Dictater took his pointer and traced the contours of Paul's face as if it were a map. I realized that I had to act if I wanted to save Paul, whose deathly pale, pathetic face I still saw up there by Dictater's, only on a lower level. I jumped up and ran down the aisle toward the front, so that I was standing in the middle of the class. I cried out, I don't ordinarily say anything, but that is not true, simply not true! I was expecting an even more emphatic murmur of agreement than before, but among the rows of students there was only icy silence, just mute, expressionless faces.”
“Systematic”
“From a political or the purely human point of view dreams show the psychological extremes to which one can be driven by outside encroachments on one's innermost sphere, and how man can react in his very depths when the powers that be make it too difficult for him to love his neighbor, even the one dearest to him.”
“I dreamt I was no longer able to speak except in chorus with my group.”
“I realized it was high time to escape. I peeked through the window - I could see figures patrolling down below. So 1 had to crawl out over our balcony, which I had camouflaged by painting the geraniums brown, though I thought to myself as I climbed out that they only looked like autumn, not like Nazi.”
“l receive the same comment on all my report cards and on all the class work I do: ‘Very good, but unsatisfactory because subversive.’ ”
“Every night I kept trying to rip the swastika off the Nazi flag, all the while feeling happy and proud of myself, but in the morning it was always sewn on tightly again.”
“In a music hall – I wondered all of a sudden how I was going to get back. I didn't know the way by foot so I would have to take a train, and that meant I needed a passport. Then someone came through the music hall carrying five or six passports which he was distributing to people whose names he called out. I snatched one away from him as he came by. Then a chase – I made it. When I opened the passport, however, I discovered it belonged to a twenty-nine year old Estonian woman – that would do, but it was covered with markings indicating that she was politically incriminated. While still leafing through it, I found myself standing before a customs official on a train, and with a smile I handed him my passport to be stamped. I told myself, *You've just got to want to*, and although he raised an eyebrow, I got by.”
“I dreamt I was saying, I don't *have* to always say *no* anymore.”
“At a concert. Hitler came through the front rows, shaking hands with everyone. I thought frantically – can I give him my hand? Don't I have to tell him I'm against him? Meanwhile he'd come up and placed both his hands on mine. He left them there until I woke up.”
“Two benches were standing side by side in Tiergarten Park, one painted the usual green and the other yellow. There was a trash can between them. I sat down on the trash can and hung a sign around my neck like the ones blind beggars sometimes wear – also like those the government makes 'race violators' wear. It read, *I Make Room for Trash If Need Be.*”
“I dreamt that I no longer dream about anything but rectangles, triangles, and octagons, all of which somehow look like Christmas cookies – you see, it was forbidden to dream.”
“It no longer matters whether blue eyes, blond hair, and a six-foot stature truly guarantee superior human qualities. What does matter is that one can use this means as any other to organize people to the point… where no one has the opportunity any more to consider whether this distinction is meaningful or not… This apparently minor, in reality decisive operation of taking ideological views seriously…” (Hannah Arendt)

In the beginning of this year Ruth Noack came to me with her upcoming Roaming Assembly-Symposium “Sleeping with a Vengeance” at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands. She asked me to find a form for staging her symposium but also to give a workshop for some of her art students, based on and dealing with Charlotte Beradt’s Book “The Third Reich of Dreams” in which the journalist publishes dreams collected from totalitarian Germany between 1933–37.

The result should be performed during the symposium. The students had no theatre experience (which was a requirement for signing in), I had never met them before and the time-frame of the workshop was 3 hours. Including learning acting on stage, finding the right theatre form for the text, and all rehearsals. And the show should not last longer than 25 minutes. Quite a challenge!

So I prepared a text version for 10 actors and sent it to the students to learn by heart in preparation for the workshop: to speak the text without any interpretation, no special attitude, no tone, just technical.

After some reading (sitting in a circle) and working with the students on a natural handling of the text with the tools of classical theatre like playing with text, working with it from different perspectives and with diverse approaches like brainstorming, self presentation, addressing, voice, free-improvised speech and text interpretation – to avoid overacting. We discovered that this circle situation felt right and very intense.

Together we decided that the dreams about the Third Reich, our own experiences and view on the text, should be staged for the symposium as a group therapy situation, giving Beradt’s written words a – contemporary – voice.

CAST:
Teresa Distelberger
Zoë Scoglio
Baha Görkem Yalim
Rabea Ridlhammer
Samantha Mc Culloch
Ciprian Burete
Bethany Crawford
Jasmin Schaedler
Jonathan Baumgärtner
Lukas Hoffman

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Anja Scheffer is a theatre director living in Berlin. She works in different contexts in the fields of theatre/video/arts, promoting a crossover between theatre, arts and museum fields, having the educational gesture as a major aim. Among her projects: LivingTOgether (Consulate General of Germany in Toronto), Anspiel (with the Artist Seraphina Lennz for the International Garden Exhibition IGA Berlin 2017). Currently, she is developing a collaborative exhibition for the Jewish Museum Berlin, having the Jewish life now and its echoes among different ethnic communities of the city of Berlin as the main subject.