The Störtebeker Festspiele start their 2013 season this Saturday, and with the main figure Klaus Störtebeker losing his head at the end of last year’s production, this year sees a new actor – Bastian Semm – take over the role.
Taking on such a major role is surely not an easy task considering that it has only been played by two other actors in the past 20 years that the Festspiele have been going for, especially when one of them (Norbert Braun) is on the stage beside you playing Klaus Störtebeker’s father. But Bastian is determined to make his mark and play his Klaus Störtebeker whilst keeping the elements that makes the character what it is.
But not just Klaus Störtebeker is being played by someone new, his friend Goedeke Michels also has a new appearance in the shape of Andreas Euler, again a role that the same actor had played for the past 10 years.
With the new cycle the story returns to the beginning and the year 1391. Klaus is still known by his given name “Klaus von Alkun” at a time when Mecklenburg has lost a war against Denmark. Returning home, he finds his father’s land is under threat from Henning von Manteufel, played by regular Mario Ramos, who wants the clay to build Wismar’s new church tower with. He also finds that his friend Ann-Marie (Sarah Hannemann) has turned into a young lady, leading to a romance between them.
The story has all the elements that make the Störtebeker Festspiele such a spectacular performance to watch – pyrotechnics, stunts, sword fights, horses, and of course the eagle Laran. Only this time there is the added dimension of the church tower, which sees some stunts of its own.
Wolfgang Lippert reprises the role of the singer, Abellin, with the song “Albatross” from the 2011 performance also making a comeback. Last year there was some disappointment among fans that the song had been left out. Lippert himself describes the song as having “power” and its inclusion this year will surely be a popular move.
I won’t give away too much of the plot, but by the end of the evening Klaus has received his nickname “Störtebeker” (from “Stürze-Becher” after a drinking match) and has decided to join Goedeke for a life at sea to take from the rich and give to the poor. If that sounds just a little bit like a figure from the English middle ages, then that may not be a co-incidence. After all, both are legends in their own right. But as Bastian Semm put it, “where in Germany can you play Robin Hood?”
He may well have asked where else in Germany he could play in the open-air in front of so many people, with the answer probably being “nowhere”.
Just visiting the Störtebeker Festspiele and being part of an 8,000 strong audience in front of the impressive stage is an experience in itself, one that many people will enjoy with the new cast in the coming weeks.
My thanks go to the Störtebeker Festspiele GmbH & Co. KG for inviting me to the press preview performance