Open-air Theatre 2012: Jedermann

The open-air theatre in Oberursel, the “Theater im Park”, is now in its third year at the “new” location in the grounds of the Hohe Mark clinic at the northern end of Oberursel.

And after two years of speaking in the Hessian dialect for the “Datterich” production, this year sees a modern version of a play called “Jedermann”.  Originally written in 1911 by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the story sees a rich man    meet his maker and have to justify his way of life.

The modern adaptation by director Andreas Walther-Schroth stays with this theme but uses the scenario of a powerful and scruple-less businessman (played by Helmut Langer) who runs a company called the Jedermann AG.

Just how “modern” the piece is becomes evident when you open up the programme and look at the names of the characters as they either refer to the rolls in a modern context, such as the accountant called “FiBu” (FiBu = FinanzBuchhaltung, ie. accounting, played by Thomas Becker), or they are very similar to the real names of people who have been in the headlines during the past year.

Those headlines play a role too, such as the blockupy demonstrations in Frankfurt and ratings agencies, but also things that had not even taken place when the play premiered, such as the fact that Germany does not currently have a valid electoral law.

The set has been kept simple and is in three parts.  An office, a meeting room and a bar, all of which have modern office furniture in them.  The central element is a lift, through which most of the characters enter and leave the stage.

Even modern technology plays a vital role in many scenes, with the characters using E-Mail to communicate, Laptops in the office, mobile phones and even Bluetooth headsets.

And just in case anyone was left in any doubt as to the technology being real, the answer came when the heavens opened during the interval of the performance that we attended and someone very quickly came out and took the laptops backstage.

Luckily for the audience the seating has, for the first time this year, had a roof added to it.  Unluckily the rain and wind were so strong, that after a while they were getting wet anyway and it looked as if the second half of the performance would have to be cancelled.

But to the credit of the cast and crew, after the rain eventually stopped about 30 minutes later they came out and mopped up the water on the stage, reset the lighting and played out the second half after all, with most of the audience still present.  The play finished almost an hour late.

The play is so topical, that despite the explanation of some terms in the programme booklet you really need to be up on the latest politcal and economic developments to understand everything that is going on.  Even then it often happens so fast, and in rhyme!

We came away wet and tired, but pleased to have seen the piece through to the end and full of admiration for the way in which everyone had worked so quickly to be able to carry on with the performance.

Photography is not normally permitted during the performance.  Our thanks go to the Kultur- und Sportförderverein Oberursel e.V. for permission to take and publish photographs for this article.  Jedermann is being performed every Friday and Saturday evening at 8pm until 25th August 2012.


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 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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