Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Falk Richter’s The System

“It was really interesting when I came back to Dublin to discover how much the place had changed,” says director Rachel West, who spent many years in Berlin, working with some of Germany’s best-known writers and directors. “The whole place had become so intensely interested in money, so obsessed with getting it, much more so than even in Germany.”

But as West sees it, Irish theatre has hardly reacted at all to the changes. The director’s latest response to the situation has been to import a little of the new playwrighting of modern Germany, in the shape of Falk Richter’s The System, a series of four plays created by Richter and the team at the team at Berlin’s Schaubühne theatre, concerning the lives of people all but swallowed up by the system of High Capitalism.

West worked at the Schaubühne, the heavyweight institution that had given the world Peter Stein and the post-Sixties generation of German playwrights, at a time when a younger generation of theatre artists, such as Richter, and the charismatic Thomas Ostermeier, were beginning to come to prominence.

“It was really interesting that when that group started to get well known, it was through their productions of works by British playwrights. But what happened then was that new German writing began to come through, it had elements of the other work, but also something of its own. The problem in Ireland is that has not happened.”

The problem, as far as West is concerned, is rooted in a certain lack of originality. “I read through about 80 new Irish plays in two months and it was amazing to see how similar they all were, how many Tom Murphy-type plays there were, how many Brian Friel-like plays there were…”

Projects such her current Falk Richter mini-season of events aim to gentle change that situation. As well as the productions of two parts of The System , there will be a reading of another part, as well as a workshop with Falk Richter, post-show discussions and the screening of a documentary, Grow or Go, which was a crucial inspiration for the plays.

“I think one of the biggest problems for everybody is that people in the theatre here tend to work in isolation: the companies work in isolation, the writers work in isolation. So instead of working together, all the companies end up competing against each other. We’d like to create some kind of a model for a different way of working…”


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