There is no wedding, no romantic interest and no plot to speak of. Instead the reader of Karl Marx's epic work, Das Kapital, is treated to a lengthy treatise on the division of labour and capitalist modes of production, offered up in long, convoluted sentences.Any crowd that goes to this is a bunch of pullers, all right.
Yet none of this has deterred a German theatre group from achieving the seemingly impossible: bringing the huge classic on economic theory to the stage. Not since Proust was serialised has a dramatist faced such a gargantuan task - turning catchy topics such as "the production of absolute surplus value" into a crowd puller.
To that purpose, the stage of the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus is bedecked with bookcases and a bust of Marx. Eight people - selected from among the few who have read the book from cover to cover - tell their own stories, creating a theatrical collage where Marx forms the common thread.Doing Kapital is right up Rimini Protokoll's (literally, "Hair Cheese") alley. Their site lists many other consciousness-raising projects, among them Cargo Sofia, "a Bulgarian truck ride through European cities"; Call Cutta, "the first mobile phone theater"; Alles Mus Raus, "a radioplay on the global market"; and Zeugen! Ein Strafkammerspie, "a meta-process on the theatre of justice."
The play, Kapital: Volume One, is the brainchild of Rimini Protokoll, a collective of young German directors who have made a name for themselves in "documentary theatre".
Smash hits every one, I bet. Kapital will be no different--think Springtime for Hitler for the gulag set.
Update: This all reminds me of the time some amateurs staged a play in the basement theater of the old Denver Public Library. Don't even remember what it was, maybe an original by one of the actors. I didn't care. All I wanted was a warm place to drink beer that wasn't my apartment.
Two people, sitting apart, were the only audience in the 200-seat theater when I walked in. I took off my beer pack and sat down, and the play started.
It was traumatic. Actors forgot their lines, giggled uncontrollably, burst into tears, knocked over furniture. You could hear the director having a breakdown in the wings. It was horribly embarrassing to watch.
But I'd already popped a beer, and I was going to finish it.
Unfortunately, while I was doing so first one, then the other audience member got up and walked out. Suddenly there were six or seven people on stage performing their incompetent little hearts out for an audience of one--me--and we were still in the first act.
Now I was done with my beer, too. How could I leave without hurting their feelings? I mean, they could see me sitting there, for Christ's sake. If I left, what would they do?
Didn't matter. I had to get out of there. Gathering my beer pack and empty can (I was a neat drunk), I got up and started pantomiming toward the stage, meaning to convey something like, "I'm going to the bathroom, but I'll be right back," and slunk out. I'm sure they saw me, and equally sure they knew I wasn't coming back.