Fucking Åmål - new stage production in Berlin!

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Fucking Åmål - new stage production in Berlin!

Postby kant1781 » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:25 pm

It seems that Basle was just a start - the next German language stage production of Fucking Åmål is on its way:

"Raus aus Åmål" (the German title is being used here) premiered in Berlin at the Grips Theater on November 18th!
http://www.grips-theater.de/repertoire/amal_01.php

There have been very positive reviews of the performance in the Berlin papers and also in the "taz - die tageszeitung" which is distributed all over Germany.

The Grips Theater is one of the oldest and probably the most famous youth theater in Germany. It is especially known for its aim of promoting values like non-violence, critical thinking and personal courage among kids, and also of tolerance and solidarity between people of different cultures and origins. Its most legendary production is "Linie 1", a kind of 80s-Berlin-ZooStation-Runaway-Punk-Musical that became one of the most successful German plays of all time and is still being performed at the Grips every month.

More performances of Fucking Åmål are scheduled for the next months - check the "Spielplan" on the website.
My ticket is booked and I swear, this time I'm gonna be there! *:)*
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Postby darkleon » Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:01 pm

thx thx thx thx thx kant!!
will go too!!! :-)))
the article in the taz is very promising
and its not as far away as bremen :-))
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Postby common svensson » Thu Dec 01, 2005 12:58 am

omg :shock:

thank you so much for pointing that out! i wonder why directors suddenly start adapting our beloved story for stage... it's not normal... but brilliant! :wink:

i wish berlin wasn't that far away. But at least there's more than one single occasion to catch a show...
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Postby darkleon » Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:15 am

it will be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool
soooooooooooooooooo great

i hope you got my point :-)
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Postby kant1781 » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:43 pm

darkleon wrote:it will be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool


...jävla coola! :Y

Found another review from Der Tagesspiegel (also a quality newspaper) from which I take it that the play follows the film closely but highlights the funny aspects of the script. (I think that darkleon, Nicolas and Hans reported something like this from the Basel production too, right?)
http://archiv.tagesspiegel.de/archiv/20.11.2005/2187667.asp

I'm going to see it next week if I don't break all my legs.

Commonsvensson, glad you're still alive! 8)
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Postby darkleon » Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:39 pm

kant1781 wrote: (I think that darkleon, Nicolas and Hans reported something like this from the Basel production too, right?)

yeah it was much more fun but the feeling was also very present, at least for me ;-)

kant1781 wrote:I'm going to see it next week if I don't break all my legs.

hehe
but please, dont say too much, dont expose surprises if there are any :-)
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Postby nicolas » Sat Dec 03, 2005 7:37 pm

Hey guys

This sounds really interesting, a new stage interpretation of FA! I also have very good memories about Linie1. If they ever come to Switzerland (or at least close to the border) I'll have to see that!

Now: Sorry, I've abandoned you for such a long time, but I've been suffering from some personal trouble lately.
I intend to show up in here more often again :wink:
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Postby kant1781 » Sat Dec 10, 2005 8:17 pm

I saw it! :D :D A great experience - and a performance worthy of the name of Fucking Åmål! More comments soon...

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Postby sydney » Sun Dec 11, 2005 4:49 pm

That's great Kant. Please give us some details soon.
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Postby kant1781 » Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:52 pm

Here’s my review of the Berlin production of Fucking Åmål. I think that there may be some people who won’t have the chance to go to Berlin and who might be interested to know what it’s like.

So I’m sorry, darkleon, but I can’t keep this to myself! There are some spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want to know about these things before you get to see the play yourself, just avoid reading this post! My general judgement is: Four stars out of five for FÅ at the GRIPS Theater in Berlin – go see it if you can!
http://www.grips-theater.de


Here we go... SPOILERS AHEAD!

I already gave my general impression: A first-rate achievement and a production worthy of the name of our beloved FÅ! Most of the time, the play follows the scenes of the film closely. The stage is very intelligently used to evoke the original sets of the film in a realistic way – the school, Elin’s and Jessica’s homes, the lift, the playground, and even the bridge and the road to Stockholm, it’s all there and nothing much gets abstracted or symbolized. Director Ulla Theißen honours the integrity of the dialogue, the characters and, above all, the spirit of the film, adding only some beautiful details and allusions here and there. Once the lights fade up and Jessica appears and starts to make O’boy, you feel at home. So the whole thing is very close to the original concerning its general flavour, which is probably the greatest compliment one can pay. It also has been carefully researched – although it is based on the same translation as the German-dubbed film and the Basel production, in some places, the GRIPS production corrects translation mistakes of the German version of the film, and one deleted scene from the film script has been re-included.

To begin with, some remarks on the actors and actresses who are very good if not excellent.
Stephanie Schreiter as Agnes (the blonde to the left on the picture above) is very powerful. Her balance between strength and vulnerability is extremely true to Agnes’s character and in some scenes her performance even comes close to being as moving as Rebecka Liljeberg’s – e.g., when she types her wishlist. Plus, she isn’t so amazingly pretty, and, surprisingly (for me at last), that gives you a whole new view of the character. Don’t get me wrong – it would of course be blasphemy (yeah, well, Jehova, Jehova... :wink: ) to even suggest that anybody but Rebecka herself should have been Agnes in the first place. But I once read a review of FÅ somewhere which said that if you want to portray a character that is supposed to be an outsider and considered unattractive, it’s not a good idea to cast the cutest girl of Sweden for that role. I don’t think that this is a serious criticism of FÅ, but in the GRIPS it suddenly occured to me that there’s a grain of truth to it. It’s not that Stephanie Schreiter is unpleasant to look at – she is likeable, but her looks are perfectly ordinary, she doesn’t have that angel face that makes you have a crush on her instantly. She has to work to move your heart (and she succeeds), but this gives a whole new and more realistic picture of how hopeless Agnes’s love for Elin really is in the beginning.
Nadine Warmuth (to the right, above, with dark hair) as Elin is also a good choice, first of all because she really is beautiful. It’s easy to imagine her to be the girl everybody wants to have, and it’s equally easy to see the future Miss Sweden in her (which is why the „You’re too short“-joke doesn’t work at all.) She also is a very good actress and her performance is a truthful interpretation of the character. She concentrates on the brash and etchy parts of Elin, she’s always tense and hyperactive and short of erupting. It must be said, however, that because of this, she tends to overact a little from time to time, causing Elin to appear a bit silly – Warmuth’s wails of frustration and her outbursts of anger just don’t have the overwhelming naturalness of Alexandra Dahlström’s impersonation. You can see, in a way, that she acts. But maybe this is unfair: This is, after all, a stage, not a cinema screen, so the actors have to do more. There’s no close-up shot that gives you the chance to say it all with your eyes.
The supporting actors are excellent from first to last. Jens Mondalski certainly is the most likeable and real-life Johan Hult there ever was. Katja Hiller is perfect as Jessica. And watch out for Frank Engelhardt’s three-minute solo as the ice hockey coach – probably the funniest scene in the play and a great addition to the story!

Now, let’s get to the changes made. Two supporting characters have undergone interesting developments, both because other characters are missing. This works very well in both cases.
First, Marcus (Daniel Jeroma) is much more important (and much more interesting) than in the film, and he is a good deal darker here. This is because Camilla is missing, and her lines are taken over by Jessica and Marcus. So, for example, it’s Jessica who tries to enter the closet in the coming out scene. But it’s Marcus who inherits Camilla’s meanness and her homophobia. He is the one to call Agnes from Christian’s party. Furthermore, his machismo and sexism are now larger than life. He’s portrayed as the prototype of a rural wannabe womanizer of the „I’ve had them all“ type. He’s aggressive and violent, not only towards Jessica, but also towards Johan. These relationships have been much roughened. It’s also very clear that part of Marcus’s and Jessica’s problems are caused by Marcus secretly desiring Elin who is the only one to oppose him.
Secondly, Pappa Olof (Frank Engelhardt again) has undergone a fascinating change because Karin, Agnes’s mother, is absent. The idea is that she is a super-successful lawyer and is on a business trip to Malmö on Agnes’s birthday (which makes sense), so Olof has to take her role too. He’s the one to make roastbeef and to invite Jessica and Elin in in spite of Agnes’s protest, but he’s still the one to try and comfort Agnes afterwards. He’s the one to talk to her about how everything will be better in 25 years, but he’s also the one who reads her diary. And this works fantastically! In fact, the scene when Agnes finds Olof reading her diary is one of the best in the entire play. It adds lots of depth to his character, since the black/white portrayal of Olof and Karin gets mitigated that way – when he says, „I read your diary because I was worried about you!“, it’s clear that he really means it.

Concerning the course of the action, there are some minor changes in the first half of the play, some of them due to the advancement of mobile phone technology since 1998... ;-), but they work fine. The hitch-hiking scene has an interesting twist which re-interprets it significantly, for Agnes and Elin do not enter the car to Stockholm. Instead, Elin frightenedly backs away (quite plausible, as I see the scene in the film). Agnes and Elin then share a sort of dance with each other on the highway to Stockholm, which makes a very sweet scene.
In the second half (after the break), there are more changes made, especially concerning the order of scenes. And this brings me to the only important critical comment I have to make, because I think that some of these changes harm the balance of the story in an unfortunate way. For example, Elin meets Johan on the playground right after her violent quarrel with Jessica on the morning after her night with Agnes, and more or less directly goes off to make love to him. And the last twenty minutes or so now are composed of a sequence of scenes that have been recast so as to take place in the school: Basically, it’s there where Agnes tries to apologize to Victoria, then Jessica and Elin turn up, Agnes confronts Elin, slaps her and runs away, Victoria explains that Agnes is in love with Elin, so Elin is confused (but she has already slept with Johan and talked to Jessica in the ice hockey stadium); now Marcus and Johan turn up at once, behaving like real jerks, causing an argument between them and Elin and Jessica, which is mainly composed of dialogue taken from the bingolotto scene of the film. So Elin ditches Johan right there in the school, from the washroom rather than from her own room, and then drags Agnes into that same washroom more or less five minutes later. From this description, you may already get an impression of what I think is the problem here: Although the characters’ basic motives are preserved and there are no gaps in the storytelling, it all goes too fast. This problem is deepened by the fact that all the scenes from the film in which nothing seems to be happening (e.g., Elin lying on the bed, thinking of Agnes or looking at her in the school yearbook, Elin standing on the bridge, Elin throwing the stone) but which serve to show the time Elin needs to make her decision, are missing. Equally missing are her talk to Jessica on the playground („Acne, anorexia, AIDS...“) and her subsequent second call to Johan, which contain some essential dialogue. This is a pity, because it obscures the huge development of Elin as a person. It also flattens her as a character. Nadine Warmuth doesn’t get a chance to portray Elin’s fragile side, her weakness, her silence, her desperate struggle. As a result, the coming out scene doesn’t manage to evoke the same kind of overwhelming intensity as in the film – the long road Elin had to travel in order to arrive at that point has been rushed, and so one could get the impression that it’s all rather a spontaneous idea of hers. The coming out scene is still fine, don’t worry, it just hasn’t got the magic it could have had. Under the circumstances I described, however, at least the director’s decision to cut the first kiss from the car scene and place it here (yes, they kiss before they open the door) turns out to be a good idea, because it restores some of the intimacy. The play then ends with the coming out – there’s no final O’boy scene. I found that a pity too, but it’s consequential – the O’boy scene needs the full background of Elin’s character development, so it wouldn’t quite make sense here.

So much for my impressions. And don’t get me wrong: Despite my critical remarks about the messing around with the second half of the script, seeing the play is still a wonderful experience! Nothing can ever be perfect, and nearly everything else in it is great. In order to end on a positive note, let me mention the music. I know that all those Broder Daniel fans out there now will throw rotten tomatoes at me, but for the first time FÅ comes with decent music – and no Foreigner!! Instead, there’s some music by The Strokes, Elin and Jessica listen to the Sugababes as they dress, Coldplay have replaced Albinoni during Agnes’s suicide attempt, and Agnes’s birthday „party“ is brilliantly scored by Lou Reed’s and John Cale’s anti-provincial-boredom anthem „Small Town“ – another song the lyrics of which seem to have been made just for that scene.
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Postby darkleon » Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:24 pm

thx for the warning
i will not read it
will see it somewhen in january :-)
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Postby Rebecka Fan » Tue Dec 13, 2005 6:58 pm

great review. i wish i was going to Germany so that i could see it. i'd probably be wayyyy to critical of it though, stil sounds good anyways.
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Postby robinn » Thu Dec 15, 2005 10:13 pm

hey kant! thanks for your review

I read it since it will be kind of hard to ever get to see this show...

though it has probably been discussed too much, but they only tour in the southern part of germany am I right? is there an official site out there which features dates and stuff? is there a chance they will perform it in the rest of germany (since there seemed to be some kind of dialect-conflict)

i hope you (or someone else of course) can answer my questions

once again kant, nice review. and sydney: how about you? are you trying to arrange plans to go and see it, or are you too busy etc. ?
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Postby kant1781 » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:07 pm

Hej robinn, thanks for your comments! There are now two German-language (well, more or less :wink: ) productions of FA, in Basel and in Berlin, and I assume you mixed them up:

The Basel show (for which there may indeed be some "dialogue-conflict", but check out the positive reviews here in the forum) tours extensively, mainly in Switzerland, but they also recently performed in Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Berlin. And they may get invited to more theater festivals, in Germany or elsewhere.
Here is their official homepage,
http://www.jungestheaterbasel.ch/home.php?go=_archiv/2005/fucking_amal/
and here are the dates of their shows:
http://www.jungestheaterbasel.ch/home.php?go=_stuecke/

The Berlin show is the latest and I don't think that they'll go on tour at all. It may be though that they too get invitations for youth theater festivals or something like that.
Here's the homepage:
http://www.grips-theater.de/repertoire/amal_01.php
And here are the dates of their shows:
http://www.grips-theater.de/spielplan/spielplan_2006_01.php
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Postby robinn » Sat Dec 17, 2005 1:55 pm

ok kant, thank you very much!

but doesn't the fact that there are already two FÅ-plays seem hopefull?How can we explain this sudden 'hype'? Can we expect other playgroups to perform FÅ too? I know you can't answer these questions, but anyway, it'd be nice talking about it I guess
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