Actors of Heidelberg Youth Theater (Germany) have played the familiar to the audience "Michael Kohlhaas" directed by Obid Abdurakhmanov at Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan.
The joint project of the two troops with support of the Goethe Institute in Tashkent was launched late last year. Actor and director of Youth Theater of Uzbekistan Obid Abdurakhmanov put the classic work of Heinrich von Kleist on German stage. The premiere was presented on December 9, 2015. Later, the director of the Heidelberg Theatre Franziska-Theresa Schütz has put the same play with the local actors. Both performances were included in repertoire of the theaters and successfully played on two stages in Uzbekistan and Germany. The next stage of the international project was the arrival of German actors which gave to connoisseurs in our country the opportunity to get acquainted with the work of Obid Abdurakhmanov.
Thank to the international project of Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan the capital theater-goers have learned about the classical German story of struggle for justice which is familiar to every schoolchild in Germany. There is no need to retell the idea of the play, which we have already written before.
The most interesting was to see difference and similarity of the two schools. "One gets the impression that the actors from Germany were born and raised in our country, and vice versa," the audience shared the impressions after the performance. Indeed, with the exception of language difference, the performance of the German actors was literally saturated with Uzbek flavor.
“It was a great experience for me because the theaters’ courses, creative pursuits, and approaches to the process are different. I began to see creative process in a different way. In the whole, I have learned a lot of interesting and useful for work. It was difficult and at the same time exciting project. Firstly, we have communicated in English, which is not native either for me or for the actors. Sometimes we had difficulties in explaining some subtleties, and then we switched to "acting" language. I went to the scene myself and showed what I want from the artists. Secondly, I had a task to put for German audience a story that they know from childhood in such a way as to fill it with Uzbek color, with our soul. I tried to fill the performance with power, richness, more emotions, intension, and passionate life on the stage. Such a style of direction is unusual for German audience, and I am glad that the youth has crispy responded to it,” Obid Abdurakhmanov says.
An artist Philip Keefer, who found a unique scenographic solution that allowed the actors of the German theater tour without scenery, also took part in the project.
Despite the fact that performances were put to the one work, participation of only three actors performing 20 roles simultaneously speaking storytellers, the set design, they can not be compared. After all, each work has a totally unique style and director’s vision. The play of Obid Abdurakhmanov has been remembered with rage of music, colors, emotions, and feelings.
“Kohlhaas’s theme has a different audience in each country. Audience perceives it differently. This was the most interesting aspect of the project – to see reaction of the audience in Uzbekistan,” actors Masood Baiga, Pedro Stirner and Julia Lindhorst-Apfelthaler shared impressions after the premiere in Tashkent. “Work with Obid Abdurakhmanov was fascinating. His method of working with actors is completely different from what we are used to in Germany. In the first half of our work we had to get in touch, we often laughed and said, "Oh, that's what you meant. Now it is clear." Sometimes we looked at each other asking: "What he says, what he wants from us." Sometimes we had to pantomime. At the same time we have come to the same decision, the common vision of the play. We learned a lot about each other's culture and mixed it in the play. With each such project we get something new, maturate, even if we do not notice it. Now we will be doing much in a different way, for example, come together more often to discuss different methods of work that will help us to grow professionally.
The logical end of the project will be visit of Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan actors in Germany, where they will present the familiar to all story of a merchant of horses Michael Kohlhaas directed by Franziska-Theresa Schütz in Russian.