09 June 2015

Schwarz Gemacht

I went to the theatre again. This time, I went and saw Schwarz gemacht, a play by Alexander Thomas. This play deals with the Afrodeutsche, or African Germans. The play is set in 1938, before the Second World War started.

The story revolves around 5 people: Klaus, a German of African heritage; Maurice, an African-American who escaped the United States due to its policy of racial segregation; Walter and Ruth, siblings who own a guesthouse; and Lisa, an American who has German heritage, visiting Germany. These characters stand for various different beliefs and viewpoints about the issue of race and politics during the Nazi Period.

For example, Klaus is the idealist. He is black, yet believes that he is German as well. He has hope that the Nazi government will consider him to be a real German, and provide evidence that he is indeed a German citizen. He ridicules Americans because he thinks that the USA is barbaric for all its policies about African-Americans. He thinks that the USA has no right to chastise Germany for its policies against Jews when the USA is practically doing the same thing to Africans.

There is Lisa, the coward. She likes to do things by the book. But then again, she has an easy life. She is white, so she doesn't need to bother about these issues, because life is easy for her. She doesn't know any African-Americans personally, yet she has a negative opinion about them in general. She first thinks that Klaus is different, and that even though Klaus is black, she thought that Klaus is like them. Yet later on, she eventually gives in and thinks that Klaus is no different from other black people.

The three other characters are the pragmatists, each in their very own way. Walter and Ruth are pragmatic in the sense that they simply want to keep on living and are trying to adapt to the changing surroundings. Walter just wants to make more movies, and Ruth just wants to run the guesthouse, as peaceful as they can be. Maurice on the other hand is an American who escaped to Germany, because he can play jazz in Germany, and not be subject to the racial segregation laws that were in place in the USA. And when things in Germany get rough, Maurice is more than willing to board the boat leaving from Hamburg to go somewhere else in search of better pastures.

I must say that this play results in things to think about. I like the fact that the play attacks these issues, issues which are still relevant for us today. I also like the fact how the characters' personalities evolve. There were characters where initially they were portrayed as someone that the audience would like, but then later on they would display their flaws. And other characters initially were portrayed as negative, which then turned out to be the most pragmatic and sane character in the play.

The acting was good, although I didn't quite like the actor who played Lisa. I have to say I cannot put my finger on it however.

Finally, I didn't like the ending. Given how the play packed a lot of punch in the beginning, I was expecting something more. But it turned out rather anti-climactic. It's like this play gave all of its cards away in the beginning, and so by the end, it deflated a little bit. There was no twist. There was a build-up, there was tension that went bigger and bigger, but there was no explosion. There was just a little fizzle, which was a little bit unfortunate.

That being said, I still enjoyed the theatre experience, even though I am not the most eager fan of its plot structure.

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