The new Berlin theater experience from Christoph Schlingensief, the madly engaged director of electroshock cinema therapy experiments like Menu Total and The German Chainsaw Massacre, is built upon a revolving stage which beckons the audience to come for a ride into a blender of bloody good topics ranging from the overplayed and unresolved dead-end icon Lady Di to the never-made-for-Tv dramatization/hallucinations to Allan Kaprow, the american artist who gave birth to 60’s Happenings. There’s plenty more incompatible and expansive topics thrown in to ensure your personal time code and all plot lines are sufficiently scrambled so that we might each adjust our individual and uniquely human perceptions for maximum free associations. Yes, this is a full-spectrum Rorschach test that has doors, many doors. The ability to get up from your seat ,exit the theater, and enter the stage yourself as a character which may then be projected onto the center screen in the main hall allows for everyone to penetrate the Spectacle, the artworld, and its grand (un)making. There’s even a secret inner chamber, which rotates counterclockwise at the center of the vortex, which I interpreted to be a chaos command center for the 3-ring show, where I witnessed one of the queen’s guards struggling to balance an xtra- large stuffed hare upon a makeshift catapult, and another character- presumably the chief of operations- on his back writhing in something akin to problem-solving euphoria. In “Kaprow City” no theater-goer comes out with the same story, because no one has seen the entire piece. And because piecing every absurdity or every precise detail into coherent connections would be futile. But this is no random assault or massage of the senses, having just taken Schlingensief’s pre-show tour of the set, there’s clearly a meticulous assemblage of art homage and ruthless deconstructions presented with an unparalleled drive. The results may be that no one whose been to “Kaprow City” will ever want to play the immobilized spectator, bored thumb-twiddling critic, or the taxidermied ticket-holder again, at least not without a big knowing grin and a gnawing desire to enter that artistic process of letting go of the psyche’s linear and cultural moorings.
More on Schlingensief and ” Kaprow City ” , now playing at Volksbuehne in Berlin coming soon. ( with pics from 10.1. performance ). Meanwhile check the site: www.schlingensief.com