The Baron, The Countess and the Porcelain Factory

The forest has gone – sold!  The expenditure has spiraled out of control and the workers long for a period of stability.  No, this has nothing to do with the town’s finances – it all takes place on the stage of the Kunstbühne Portstraße.

The play “Mein alter Herr” (“My old Master”) being performed by the “Neue Bühne Oberursel” premiered last Friday (10th January, 2014) under the watchful eyes of director Christel Popadiuk.  Indeed, Baron von Trutz-Zellin (Beppo Bachfischer) did bring stability to the household when he returned home with his young wife Karoline (Kathrin Henrich) – a wife, who knows what she wants.

Everything would be find if it was not for the small matter of whether her mother (Gabriele Schweickhardt) was going to re-marry and thus bequeath her wealth to someone else.

Add to that the fact that Karoline’s friend Elisabeth (Stephanie Sänger) would like to marry her Lieutenant (Martin Krebs), but her well-meaning mother – the Countess of Schimmelpfenning (Anna Altheim) – is against this and sends her on a visit to allow her to forget him.

The play is set in a time known as the Biedermeier period, which a according to Wikipedia is defined as 1815-1848, although another source suggests that it takes place in the 1860s.

The theatre in the Portstraße, which only seats around 90 people, was full for the premiere.  Servants Sannchen (Mehtap Burnaz) and Pauline (Jana Palmberg) greeted the guests at the door, and during the performance the actors came from all directions – left, right, and through the aisles – to make their way to the stage and bringing them close to the audience.  They have no need for modern technology, either.  There are no microphones, just some spotlights and a sound system for the incidental music.

The stage is kept simple as well.  Tables and chairs in front of a simple backdrop give sufficient scope for the story, but the costumes are a different matter.  These are considerably more elaborate and contain a lot of fine detail.

The troupe rehearsed the piece for four months prior to the performance, and although it was apparently “pure adrenaline”, Christel Popadiuk was very happy with the way it went.  Not only, because everyone remembered their lines, but because “it had momentum” as she commented afterwards.

It was the amount of lines that they had learnt that impressed what was probably the youngest person in the audience, especially Beppo Bachfischer’s Baron, but also Mehtap Burnaz’s articulation and expressions as well as Roland Schramm as the estate’s manager with his way of reacting to the ever increasing bills that kept arriving.

Whether the Baron and Karoline inherit her mother’s fortune, whether the Lieutenant gets to marry Elisabeth and what all that has to do with the porcelain factory, is not something to be revealed here.  To find out, visit one of the remaining performances on the 7th or 8th of February at 7.30pm, or 9th February at 3pm.  Tickets are available at the Ticket Centre, Kumeliusstraße 8.

This article appeared in German in the Oberurseler Woche on Thursday, 16th January, 2014.

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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