Regular TN readers will know I have the odd problem with documentary theatre, but it has entered a new and surreal dimension that makes my faint squawking feel quite redundant. The Schauspielhaus in Dusseldorf is mounting a production of Karl Marx's Das Kapital, courtesy of Rimini Protokoll, a collective of documentary theatre directors. Personally, I think this is pushing the "document" end of "documentary" rather too hard, maybe into lala land. From the Guardian's description, it sounds like a nightmare fusion of community theatre and economics lecture:
Eight people - selected from among the few who have read the book from cover to cover - tell their own stories, creating a theatrical collage where Marx forms the common thread...So there. I could be utterly misled, of course, and I could be missing right now the theatrical breakthrough of the century. I hope to God I am wrong. It goes hard with me to spit on the brave.
In Kapital, the participants make up a diverse bunch. There is a staunch Marxist who rails against Coca-Cola and the evils of consumer society, a socialist singer from the former communist east Germany, and a blind call-centre worker who dreams of going on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
While you're pondering the hitherto deeply hidden theatrical possibilities of The Labour Process and the Process of Producing Surplus-Value or The Transformation of Money in Capital, let me make a couple of overdue pointers to things I've enjoyed recently around the blogs. Chris Goode over at Thompson's Bank of Communicable Desire has a beautiful consideration of Alan Bennett and, in particular, History Boys: a model of critical appreciation. And, as always, he has much else interesting to say on many other topics. Make sure you have a jewel-like drink at your elbow, because this man writes longer posts than I do.
And, speaking of the production of value, Melbourne artist-at-large Miles at A Confrontation With Falling has a fabulous post on the the art market and, in particular, on the auction house, with which he has had intimate dealings. And while you're there, read the rest of this great blog as well, even if it is only slightly about theatre. You'll probably need another of those nice drinks.
UPDATE: Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic, thinks that staging Das Kapital is a fab idea. "One thing people have woken up to in recent years," he tells us, "is the power of documentary theatre". It occurs to me that theatre offers a wider choice than between Spamalot and Das Kapital or, god forbid, a staged reading of Origin of the Species. (Oddly, perhaps, I can imagine Nietzsche on stage; maybe it's all those exclamation marks. And as philosophers go, Nietzsche is a hoot). Nor does it come down to a stark choice between fluff and "real life". There are other possibilities... and these "other" choices - which you might loosely call imagination - are, it seems to me, where theatre is most seriously theatre.