Whitehorse gets absurd

Siegmar Schroeder avoids logic. It gets in the way of his art. And if things make sense, the German director has failed. Schroeder's used to European audiences. "And in Europe, the avant-garde is mainstream," he said.

Siegmar Schroeder avoids logic.

It gets in the way of his art.

And if things make sense, the German director has failed.

Schroeder’s used to European audiences.

“And in Europe, the avant-garde is mainstream,” he said.

But his troupe, Theaterlabor, is too weird to be avant-garde.

“We’re always outside this,” he said.

And Canadians love it, he added.

In North America, Hollywood holds sway and traditional dramas are popular, said Schroeder.

“But people also like alternative ways of interacting in theatre.

“Audiences are much more open.”

Schroeder is in Whitehorse with Theaterlabor’s Absurdesque.

It’s an even more absurd retelling of The Bald Soprano than the original script by theatre-of-the-absurd playwright Eugene Ionesco.

In Europe, audiences come to the theatre with expectations, said Schroeder.

“They hear we’re doing The Bald Soprano and have certain opinions beforehand,” he said.

“And if we don’t do The Bald Soprano, they won’t like it.”

But in Canada, audiences don’t come to the theatre “with intellectual pre-judgments.”

Schroeder’s description of Absurdesque was vague.

“It’s theatre of possibility,” he said.

And it’s conceptual.

Theaterlabor, which was founded in ‘83, picks artists, composers or authors and creates theatre pieces using their work.

In the past it’s explored German history, German music, the emotionally raw art of Francis Bacon and the German romantics.

“One play is very different from the next,” said Schroeder.

And some are more suitable for touring than others.

The Bald Soprano piece works internationally because it is largely movement.

And what text there is has been translated into English, he said.

Schroeder wants to entertain.

But he also wants to make his audiences work.

“I want to break down the wall between the actors and the audience,” he said.

“I want to change their ways of watching.”

Schroeder likens it to reading a book.

“You have to make your own movie in your head,” he said.

This is what theatre should be, he said.

“You have to be active.

“If you present too much, the spectator’s not active anymore.”

But if things get too weird, you lose your audience.

“We want to keep people’s attention so they don’t feel completely lost,” said Schroeder.

“But we want to keep it open enough that the spectator can put their feelings, emotions and expectations into the story.”

Schroeder started off studying Commedia dell’arte in Italy with a number of Europe’s theatre masters.

It was very physical training, and “my body was smashed,” he said.

“I learned a lot about the limits of actors.”

Inspired and back in German, Schroeder was only 23 when he decided to start his own company.

“Maybe I hadn’t studied enough, but I decided to go ahead anyway, and people followed me,” he said.

Some of the actors have been with him ever since.

“Three of the actors in Absurdesque have been with me the full 27 years,” he said.

And the theatre company has never warmed to normal.

“I don’t like normal things,” said Schroeder.

“Theatre should break moulds.”

Absurdesque is at the Yukon Arts Centre tonight as part of Nakai’s Pivot Festival. It starts at 8 p.m.

Also on tonight is Tanya Marquardt’s Fragments at the Old Fire Hall. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20.

On Thursday, Nina Arsenault’s Like a Barbie is at the Yukon Arts Center. It’s at 8 p.m. and tickets are $23.

On Friday and Saturday, Andy Jones’ An Evening with Uncle Val is at the arts centre. The shows start at 8 p.m. and tickets are $24.

For more information go to http://nakaitheatre.wordpress.com/this_season/pivot-festival/.

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com