Klaus Störtebeker is “Everyone’s Enemy”

Mid June can only mean one thing – it’s time to head to Rügen to see the Störtebeker Festspiele. Last year the story ended with Klaus being removed access to the harbours commanded by the Mecklenburg family and being outlawed, after which the garrison of Stockholm is said to have fallen.

The story now fast forwards to 1397. On the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden the pirates are able to find a harbour in Visby that will let them stay, for a price. The local ruler, Sophie of Pomerania-Wolgast (Susanne Szell) fears that knights of the Teutonic Order may attack them and is also happy to have the extra manpower on hand. Visby is the new set on the left of the stage and it just so happens that their old friend and inventor Hugo (Charles Lemming) has somehow already made it there and owns the local public house.

Bastian Semm as Klaus Störtebeker in Novgorod

Bastian Semm as Klaus Störtebeker in Novgorod

The other side of the stage represents Novgorod which, according to Wikipedia, was one of the most important cities in Russia and was indeed connected to the Hanseatic League. It is here that Grand Prince (Mario Ramos) keeps a tight reign on his people and is prepared to do deals both the league and Sophie, whilst not actually intending to necessarily honour them. The main story deals with Klaus’ (Bastian Semm) attempt to broker a deal, whilst at the same time try and keep the peace on Gotland where not everyone is so happy about the pirates being there.

But with many of the characters and their respective actors returning after two previous years in the cycle, there are some interesting side stories going on as well. Most prominent is the budding romance between Goedecke Michels (Andreas Euler) and Fronica (Karin Hartmann), who has travelled with the pirates to Visby. A slip of the tongue is all it takes for Fronica to start planning their wedding whilst Goedecke is away in Novgorod. Goedecke, who allegedly has a girlfriend in every port – often with alliterative names (eg. “Antje in Amsterdam”) – is not so happy about the planning and is smitten by the vodka seller Ninotschka, who bears a striking resemblance to Fronica (and is also played by Hartmann).

Another side story concerns the orphans Mischa (Michaelson Trillhaase-Rader) and Nadeshda (Anika Lehmann). Their parents worked in an amber mine owned by the Grand Prince of Novgorod, which he burnt down killing everyone in side it – or so he thought. He manages to put the blame on Störtebeker, with Mischa and Nadeshda the only witnesses who know the truth.

Wolfgang Lippert singing as Nadeshda (Anika Lehmann) summons her God 'Perun'

Wolfgang Lippert singing as Nadeshda (Anika Lehmann) summons her God ‘Perun’

This fire alone gets the play off to an explosive start, with not only burning stuntmen on stage, but stunt dummies flying through the air as well. There is a lot of sword fighting throughout the play, and as it gets darker more fire as well – on land and at sea, with the ships “firing” on each other.

In the middle of it all singer Wolfgang Lippert sings a combination of old, new and re-worked songs, with “Albatross” now a regular part of the performance. Other familiar elements such as the many horses and the birds of prey are also there.

However one thing is different this year because someone is missing. Thomas Kornack, who played the much-loved cook known as “Kurzer”, died suddenly last November. Many fans may have been wondering whether he would be replaced or written out of the story, and the writer has indeed done a marvelous job. Just when you are laughing in your seats at how Goedecke and Hugo react to their first taste of vodka, Hugo, who has of course not been on the ship for a couple of years, realises that “Kurzer” is not on board and asks where he is. Goedecke’s answer is probably the most moving line in the whole play and is sure to bring tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Hugo (Charles Lemming) asks Goedecke (Andreas Euler) where the cook 'Kurzer' (Thomas Kornack) is

Hugo (Charles Lemming) asks Goedecke (Andreas Euler) where the cook ‘Kurzer’ (Thomas Kornack) is

The Störtebeker Festspiele runs from Saturday, 20th June until Saturday, 5th September, 2015.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.stoertebeker-festspiele.de.

Once again my thanks go to the Störtebeker Festspiele GmbH & Co. KG for inviting me to the press preview performance

About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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