Looking For Some Absurdity – Part 1

Before I get into the whole seeking absurdity thing and why Peter Hacks isn’t an absurd playwright but should be, I’d like to rant a little about something that will eventually cause my death or might just linger in my soul like a bad bowel movement. Oh yeah, and before I forget. This rant might also finally get me deported. But I’ll try to post part-2 before that happens. Now. Before I get into explaining everything, let’s first have a quick English language course on the expression “fuck you”.

“Fuck you” is an interjection. According to most sources an interjection can be a figure of speech or a word that expresses emotion. With that in mind, “fuck you” is a derogatory emotional expression that is said because something bothersome motivated a speaker to say it. Now, if that bothersome thing is only one sided, that is, only one side is bothered, that means whoever receives the “fuck you” cannot simply throw it back. I mean, come on, there has to be rules out there, right? Otherwise all we’d have in this world is a bunch really smart, well earning career people out there saying nothing but fuck you to each other all day.

Moving on….

I enjoy reading plays. In fact, I enjoy reading them more than actually seeing them performed. Call me a fuddy-duddy or even uncooperative, but I’m usually disappointed when I go to German theatre and watch a bunch of compulsive addicts put on a play. The attitude I have is in part due to living in Germany and attending so many (too many!) German state subsidized play productions over the past twenty years. Add to that the bitterness I have of being rejected by German theatre houses because… Well, I guess they reject me even today because I’m (worst)writer.

Needless to say, I’ve given up on German theatre for basically two reasons (beyond the one already mentioned). German theatre, like an incorporated radio or TV station, is completely unoriginal and uses economics as an excuse for the products its sells. (Yes, theatres do sell products other than sweets and 1,- Euro coat hanging services.) With that said, how many fucking times can Peer Gynt, Woycek or King Lear, etc., etc., be produced? I’ve got nothing against these plays. They are great. But who gave them free-reign to occupy German stages as though they were post WW2 GIs? (And fuck all those theatre subscribers!) In fact, for every production of one of them so-called classic plays there should also be a production of a new, original play. Is that asking for too much? You bet your knickers it’s asking for too much. Just try and have a rational conversation with a German literary manager (Dramaturg) or, goodness forbid, a Theatre Manager (Intendant) about seeing something original on a major stage. You’ll be rewarded with a birds-eye-view of how theatre tussies think economically. Oh boy…

Me: Excuse me, Mr. P-H-D Intendant, I have a question.
P-H-D Intendant: Jaaaaaaaaaaa.
Me: why don’t you perform an entire season of original plays with all the money you get from my taxes?
P-H-D Intendant: Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. H. Cough. Choke. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Walking away). Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Even further away; farting.) Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Fade out.)

Anywho. When I want to see “theatre” and my partner and I can afford it, we go to London or NYC to see theatre. At least in those places there is SOME originality! Other than that, as I said before, I read plays.

And while I’m on the subject.

Did you know that Germany sticks billions of Euros a year into theatres? Seriously. They do. It’s obviously such an attractive undertaking that German politicians think that they somehow really should support the dramatic arts because, well, it has something to do with “culture”. The German corporate government seems to treat theatre as though it were an aside, perhaps even an entertainment park – at the least the corporate government of Germanland treats theatre as a pseudo adult Disney place, I guess, less Micky & Donald and Uncle Scrooge (Dagobert), where the dead souls of Beamten-Ärsche can rest their heads as though they actually deserve no eternal shame. I mean, those fancy and very old German theatre houses are certainly the perfect place for overworked corporate servants to fall asleep for a few hours. Right?

I’m not against the tax money being put into these houses, you know. I’m just against the lack of creativity that comes out of it all. But who today is really interested in creativity?

Perhaps the question is: what the fuck else you going to do with all those historic buildings that have so many comfy seats that perfectly scratch your asshole if you allow your hips to dance in them? Sarcasm aside, if theatre in Germany is really about art or culture or creativity, shouldn’t there be a result from the German corporate subsidies? I mean a result that is somehow measurable or at least definable? No? OK. Forget measuring anything. That would probably be too complicated. Just go to a play…

The fact is, Germany subsidizes what it calls culture. And I don’t think that’s good – especially because it has nothing to show for it. For me it is nothing more than Arbeitbeschaffungsmassnahmen (a work procurement program). I mean come on, the whole Arbeitbeschaffungsmassnahmen works well for the Autobahns or Hospitals or ditch-digging. The only problem is, with Autobahns, there is at least a result from all that spending. That’s right. I can drive as fast as I want at 3a.m. But where are the results from the work procurement program that is German theatre? What? Oh, Peer fucking Gynt is playing. Gee, I’d rather drive the Autobahn free of traffic in the wee-hours and forget about the last time I heard King Lear in German!

My biggest gripe with German theatre – after experiencing it since the late 1980s – is basically that Germany, with so much subsidy-wealth, has not produced a playwright worth mentioning on the world stage. OK. Playwriting is a dying art-form. Today “writers” work for TV or corporations in need of some fictional dialogging to fill their shareholder meetings. Can anyone counter me here? No?

Let’s see. Is Botho Strauß a playwright that has earned world-wide recognition? What about Moritz Rinke? Has anyone ever heard of Christina Kettering? No. Sorry. None of them are worth a hoot because their plays, unlike really good plays, do NOT transcend that whole German-ness thing – a subject which has enough coverage in recent history, I’d say. (But I actually do like Kettering – she’s kind of hot for a writer-chick!)

Here more about what I think of German theatre.

Almost moving on…

German theatre is nothing more than a dead-end, non-creative bureaucratic and compulsive vassal comparable only to two things. One is the corporate government running the whole show, i.e. the giver of subsidies. The other thing is a kind of pussified, bohemian mafia that adheres to the idea that culture is about displaying stuff and not about creating it – just go talk to the people who run the theatres, they’ll give you an ear-full on theatrical economics! What a shame, really. It’s all even more a shame when one considers the answer I give to those who bother to ask.

Those who bother to ask: Tom, what brought you to Germany in the first place?
Me: Well, are you sure you want to know?
Those who bother to ask: Of course.
Me: Beer and easy pussy.
Those who bother to ask: Ha. Ha. Ha.
Me: Just kidding. Ok. You asked. (Short pause.) I came to Germany because I tried to be strategic about my future. You see, I had this dream of writing for the stage. When I was in America I tried to go to small-time theatres but no one would talk to me. That’s just the way theatre is, you know. When the reality of young adulthood hit, I realized that my dream of working in theatre required a different approach. One does have to earn money, right? To make a long story short, I visited Germany in the mid 80s. The one thing that surprised me was the fact that there was/is no place in the world with so many theatres in such a small area. You need a fucking counting machine to count all the theatres between Hamburg and Munich. After that summer in Germany my plan was to go back to America, pack up everything and somehow, somehow, somehow find a way to live in New York City and work in theatre. But then I met someone that knew someone and the next thing I know, I got a job offer to work in Germany.
Those who bother to ask: Wow. So you were able to get a job in a theatre in Germany?
Me: Fuck No! German theatres are as stuck-up as American theatres. The job offer I got was for a firm that required someone to look up library resources using computers.
Those who bother to ask: So you got a job working with computers and that’s what brought you to Germany?
Me: Shut the fuck up you Krautsalat and pay attention.
Those who bother to ask: Jawohl.
Me: Dude, this was the biggest miscalculation of my life. Choosing this path sucks. And it sucks because I thought – at the time – that this might be a “different” thing to do. Go to Germany – where I could actually have a job – and then try to work my way into theatre from there. There’s like a gazillion theatres in Germany. I’ll even be able to finally learn German. I’m young enough. There’s plenty of time to go to New York… Blah. Blah. Blah.

I worked during the day and wrote plays at night. I sent plays here and there and everywhere. No one and I mean no one from any theatre EVER in Germany even talked to me about my work. For more than twenty years I tried to get some attention from a state subsidized German theatre. There weren’t even people there who would bother to listen. And so eventually I was forced to say…

Fick Dich ins Knie, Du Scheiß-Wichser!

Beyond that, after all these years, I don’t give a fuck what anyone says about my playwriting. Maybe my writing does suck. Maybe I am the worst fucking playwright ever. But the one thing today, after so many failed years, that keeps me going as a writer is the fact that ALL the plays I’ve seen on arrogant and non-creative German stages are no better than my work. Fuck you Moritz Rinke! And that piss-head Botho Strauss can kiss my ass, as well. All you fucks born in Germany, under the pacified hat of your comfy German welfare state, can kiss my ass. At least I can claim that my work transcends, it goes beyond borders and beyond a mentality that is stupid enough to believe that capitalism is sustenance for socialism. (The first is about economics and the latter about politics; two completely different things! But who’s interested in such social political details in a country like Germany where people think it’s their right to have vacations.)

But what does any of that matter? I played my cards and lost. So fuck me, too, eh?

In part-2 I might address the play “Die Fische” (The Fish) by Peter Hacks and why I think at least this play should be on as many stages as Peer fucking Gynt or King shit Lear.

Rant on.

-tgs-