Testament

(She She Pop)

> Intro

When we were first told that some theatre critics directed King Lear together with their fathers, we were more than sceptical. Critics, fathers, Lear – oh, please! But then we put the DVD in the player that had been given to us in a Hamburg hotel and – it delighted us from the very first moment. It was witty. It was personal. It was organic, natural and conceptual. They had a plan! They really had a plan and a broader idea for why they did all that, and they did it all very engagingly.

By now it turns out that we are not the only ones who think so. This play was just selected as one of the best German plays last year and they also won an important festival. Even though awards count as little in art as feelings in agriculture, it still tells us something.

Yet we cannot write very much more precisely about them because that could give away too much. Simply. You know very well. If as a rule in Estonian theatre, something relatively unimportant is done well, then European theatre has the opposite problem: global problems are indeed talked about but it is done in such a way that theatre gourmets have nothing to chew on. And if you then see a play that really has an engaging concept and it is also staged well, even if they are not professional actors but rather simply critics with their fathers, then that puts you in a good mood indeed.

In cooperation with the Hebbel-am-Ufer (HAU) Theatre from Berlin

> Duration

Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes

> Time

K 07/09 19:00

> Language

In German

> People

Concept: She She Pop. With Sebastian and Joachim Bark, Fanni and Peter Halmburger, Lisa Lucassen, Mieke und Manfred Matzke, Ilia und Theo Papatheodorou.

Stage: SSP und Sandra Fox
Costumes: Lea Søvsø
Music: Christopher Uhe
Documentation: Bianca Schemel
Light: Sven Nichterlein
Sound: Florian Fischer
Assistant: Kaja Jakstat
Hospitation: Laura Lo Zito
Graphic: Tobias Trost
Administration: Elke Weber

A She She Pop production. In Co-Production with the Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg and FFT Düsseldorf. Funded by the City of Berlin, the City of Hamburg and the Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V.

> Press

Extracts

She She Pop’s Clever Berlin “Testament” – Authentic Fraud
We’ve had to suffer much nonsense on the subject of generations, especially in theater… But now the group She She Pop demonstrates how to hold an audience in a bold and painful grip. By asking questions, for example, by looking things up and being curious. By playing an active part, while simultaneously questioning one’s own role in the matter. This cannot be done more radically than with one’s own family. The She She Pop women and one man have invited their fathers to a rehearsal, to read Shakespeare’s “King Lear” together. Then they went and developed a full-length evening out of it. The result is “Testament – Belated Preparations for a New Generation Based on Lear”. In it, they speak of love, a lack of understanding and of interdependency. The really important questions are asked very directly and then consciously transformed into open art. This may be the only way such questions can seriously be asked: through play. Everything else is no more than some smart-ass kid explaining the world, which leads to manslaughter or also just to bad theater.

…Once the first “Lear” scene is read, the beautiful delirium, which She She Pop so expertly know how to work with, sneaks its way onto the stage… The She She Pop fraud is less about lying than about dithering. Dithering between process and product, discussion and text, intimacy and distance... In the personal conversations, the piece surprisingly returns over and over again to precisely those leitmotifs, which propel the old drama forward. “Testament” offers hundreds of such possible misunderstandings.

The old men also pull out all the stops and demand respect. Theo says: In Greek respect means something similar to tolerance or hindsight. This seems fitting for this evening, considering that Lear too has a lot to do with vision. With an unsentimental perspective on differences, fears, pain and the almost Schiller-like insight that a tentative peace can only be had in pretence. Roles swaps, country music and kitsch choreographies round off the mix. The piece is a marvelous sham, which every now and then has the power to transcend reality.

Tobi Müller, Frankfurter Rundschau, February 27th, 2010

She She Pop presents a clash of the generations in “Testament” – eye to eye with their fathers
Hamburg. An evening with papa? Not a good idea. Frank and Nancy Sinatra provide an ironic backdrop with “Something Stupid” – and yet She She Pop’s “Testament” is a huge success. Three performers convinced their fathers to spend an evening with them in the theatrical living room. Honest and brave, funny and sad, touching and painfully direct, the performance deals with problems of aging, caring for the elderly and inheritance. It dicusses the conflict contained in the intergenerational contract, the loss of family ties and responsibility – but also the power of fathers over their children …

This time She She Pop abandon their interactive games with the audience and for the first time concentrate on a classical play. But in their handling of the material, they remain absolutely true to themselves, reflect and debate their own biographies as they are mirrored in the drama. They find the right theatrical form and comment it with music and live-video. … And the perfomers are not afraid to carry the amusing, polemical and theatrically initiated collage of scenes to the point of emotional pain. But in spite of all sincerity and severity, it always remain lighthearted and witty…

They bravely, forthrightly and intelligently venture into an encounter, which more than a few spectators are sure to envy them for. The final applause is accordingly enthusiastic for this highlight in the Kampnagel program, which is well worth seeing and discussing.

Klaus Witzeling, Hamburger Abendblatt, March 9th, 2010

Inheritance in Exchange for Love - Two generations enter negotiations on stage (copy 1)
She She Pop wants to set the record straight and clarify a few fatal errors, thus attempting to address some decisive taboos before it is too late. This is occasionally so funny and simultaneously so enlightening that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Three daughters and a son, all around 40 years old and three of their fathers (all nearing their 70s) – two generations and a lot of unanswered questions. Who will inherit what? And who will care for whom in exchange? These uncomfortable questions are often gladly ignored in most families. But here in the theater, these children have actually invited their fathers to do exactly that on stage.
With their amusing experimental set-up, She She Pop succeed in negotiating taboos without letting it become embarrassing or making their fathers look like fools. For this they have gained much respect – from critics, the audience as well as from their own fathers, of course.

Dunja Stamer, ZDF “aspekte”, June 18th, 2010

> Links

Testament