Photo from Ghosts

Berliner Zeitung

Boris is fed up with concrete

Young theatre in a "Plattenbau" in Berlin Hellersdorf

Mother and daughter are sitting alone in their apartment, because Boris left to America. They wonder why they have not heard from him. The mother mumbles the same phrases over and over again while she sets the table: "Is it a stain to be recognized as someone from East Germany?" The daughter, smoking a cigarette on the balcony, shouts: "Mama, Boris was fed up with this East German Style!" This scene seems like a quick film sequence for the spectator, who has traveled three quarters of an hour from the centre of Berlin to "Cottbusser Platz" and who has climbed eleven floors of a "Plattenbau" in order to stand in front of a wooden wall with a small gap at eye's height to look into the apartment of a mother and daughter. Although it's only a minute-impression, this scene, remains in your mind. It is only one station within a fascinating theatre journey through the 11th floor. About a dozen other scenes follow, each one reflecting the everyday-life in Hellersdorf.

Directing, Dramaturgy, and Set Design-students from New York and Berlin have created "Theatre in a Plattenbau". They have lived in the building together with about 50 other art students for three months. Subject of the Hellersdorf project is: "Is there a future for the "Plattenbau"?

Lacking future perspectives characterize the life of a lot of people from Hellersdorf, who have lost the capitalistic struggle and therefore spend their lives in their Plattenbau apartments. The theatre play deals with the problems of the Hellersdorf community in a subtle way. The scenes are a montage with quotes from interviews, taken with the people from Hellersdorf. Two women are standing in front of a window. They are looking outside, at the standardized neighbourhood, consisting only of "Plattenbau" apartment blocks. They go on telling themselves "how beautiful it is here".

The characters in this station drama, which is put together like a mosaic, seem to be damaged like the old building itself. It was built in the eighties and used by the local authorities as a Government Bureau. Therefore a Government bureau serves as the narrative frame for the Kafka-like plot of the play, so that private and public space as hopelessly interwoven. Officials lead the spectator from one room, where an interrogation takes place, to another, where they listen to a couple's dreams. The tiny, claustrophobic rooms have an effect of attrition, but at the same time the spectator realizes how masterly one can play with rooms.