Thursday, June 5, 2008

TAG Theater Festival

Well, what can I say.

It is over.

This year I was a participant of the TAG (Theater am Gymnasium) Theater Festival 2008 in the Kanti Zug.

I’ve blogged about theater in Switzerland before.

I do enjoy it… especially the people aspect of it.

This was a festival of around 12 different theater groups.

It lasted 4 days, Wednesday to Saturday.


I arrived a day late, on Thursday morning, at 9:00 to see the courtyard of the Kantonsschule Zug filled with a huge mass of students running around as if in a war. Kids were on the ground, groaning in pain, while others screamed in triumph. You would never see such things except in a festival of this sort. I quickly disposed of my luggage and joined the group in a huge circle where we did theater tai chi and stood in a circle humming in unison till our hums turned to yells.

And this was my life for the next two nights and days.

We then headed at 9:45 to the Guthirt Hall for the first play of the day, Jean-Pierre Venguere de Clingrad…. Yes, it was in French. It was a more or less mondern take on the old tale of Douki Outo (no idea how to spell that). In this case, the main character was into Star Wars. I understood enough throuh words like, “la force,” “princess Leah,” “Obi On Canobi,” and “*french words that sounds like ‘may the force be with vou.” That’s the brilliancy of this weekend. We had Italian plays, French plays, German plays, and yes, even plays in English. I found the production pretty good. Some of the actors were not totally in the role, well, they were, but they over played it to the point of it being to unrealistic, but who am I to judge. I do so enjoy watching French speaking people pretend to be gangsters though…

After that came 1913 by some school with the word Montana in the name. This show was bilingual, in English and German. I, personally, enjoyed it. However the fact that they did not understand most of it led many of my friends to not find it all that good. 90% percent of the text was taken from newspapers and so forth in 1913 and it followed the life of Marie and the events leading to her death in 1913. It was confusing at points, but acting in a language other than your mother tongue is quite difficult, I know that first hand. I found many of them focusing on the language rather than the acting. In the middle, groups of people left which I found horrible. Leaving in the middle of the play is the simplest way of saying, “your play sucks and I don’t find it worth my time to sit down and simply watch it.” At the end, we learned that the two times they played it that day were the only times they would ever perform it. Ever. And it was obvious they went to quite a lot of work for it. Only twice, and for an audience who didn’t fully appreciate it.

Zmittag. Lunch. For the festival, we all received meal tickets to be redeemed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The system worked quite well and the food was ok… and almost always eaten outside. All of our free time was spent outside on benches or going for walks.

After lunch we split into group for work for the workshops. I signed up for… something that had to do with setting a scene with music. Through this I was able to meet more people, including three students from the Italian part of Switzerland… hence, two of them didn’t speak German so our teacher and another student translated everything. One of the students was bilingual so that helped. We played noise games where we would just sit for 10 minutes in pairs and take turns making noises with out mouth, fingers, clothes, and the floor. Other games were your typical theater games such as “Bippidy Bippidy Bah.” Well, I enjoyed it.

Then came “Soaped Up,” someone, or a group from Maturaarbeit Zug wrote and produced this play for their Matura, which is the IHS equivalent of the Senior Project. I have to admit, I was impressed with their production. It was a play with the format of a typical soap operah filled with the cliches we see played out over and over on the television. From the best friend sleeping with the other friend’s girlfriend, to the awkward trio, to the hairdresser that one of the leads goes to for moral support, to the cheesy commercials. They prefilmed an intro and commercials which were played at the beginning and various intervals of the film, specifically at those cliffhanger moments.

What these students created was a play that was tailored to what students of today want to see. Although I enjoyed doing my school’s performance of Medea, it was just too heavy for most of the student body. Students want to see interaction between people of the oppisite sex, they want to see other people in awkward situations, they want to laugh. This was something that could even keep my 15 year old host sister plugged the entire time, which says quite a bit. It was witty and filled with characters you couldn’t help but like… or loath. Even the ending was great, or brilliant, not sure which, perhaps both. So, for a students production, I was impressed. They did a lot of things right and it would be great to see them take it a step further than the TAG festival, who knows, maybe they are…

Dinner was a huge square of pizza.

Then two friends and I headed off to look for the Zuggersee or whatever it’s name is. Anyways, there was a lake somewhere and we were determined to find it. We ended walking behind part of the cast of Soaped Up until we reached the station. We made our ways to the lake. It was, well, beautiful. Sunset. Sunset. I do like sunsets. But my camera, oh where could it be? That I did not know. But then I rememeber I had left it on a bench at the festival, crap. Not by my friends, just on a bench. So we headed back. Passed the Soaped Up cast as they headed to the lake and asked, “Heading back already?” which in fact, we were. I was ok with waiting a bit longer, but having my camera back in my hand always gives me a peace of mind.

We got back, searched, inquired, searched. And did not find it. I was not too depressed, as I figured it had to show up, it always does. But if it doesn’t, mainly I was worried because then I would have no camera for the Eurotour. Finally, feeling defeated I prepared to call my parents and ask them to pray, I had already done so myself. But I headed back to my friends who were chatting with some random guy… when he pulled my camera out of his bag. Well, that made my day. I had my camera back.

So we headed back to the lake, a 20 or so minutes walk, and took a multitude of pictures. Two girls headed back but my friend stayed by the lake with me and we walked around, took pictures, and once again, passed the Soaped Up cast.

Zug. Zug is a pretty big town. Ok, city. Completely different from Obwalden, my kanton. And I am greatful that I am in Obwalden. Right now, right next to our house is a field… filled with cows. I see green hills and snow capped mountains. Blue skies. It is open. Zug was too, well, I didn’t see a charm in it. It was pretty much a city and just that. Sure, I guess it had some sort of character, but I saw nothing that separated it apart from the other great cities in Switzerland.

The school building was not to my liking. It was all concrete and structured. The views revealed nothing. I missed my school here in Switzerland. From the windows you can see mountains and grass. It isn’t very big, but some parts are old and have a lot of charm to them. Other parts are new and modern. A mix of everything. A small student body. I would feel lost in Zug. And as some of the Obwaldeners complained, it seemed like everybody in Zug, well, looked perfect, put together. A bit artificial. I am Maggie and I live near farmers! I like that.

We headed to our sleeping quarters… a bomb shelter, as usual. Those bomb shelters really are a great idea and really useful. There was a security man on duty the entire night so the doors were left open and we were free to stay out as late as we wanted. To my surprise, they had a theater group in every room… boys and girls sleeping together. I mean, it was ok. I just have never really been in a situation where they have organized it so. Yes, we are like a family. But it was just a bit, well, different. I admit, I moved to a place where I was sleeping next to girls. No problems with guys, I just don’t like sleeping by them…

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