Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Black German theatre group serves up snapshots of German racism
From Der Schwarze Blog:
The German Theatre ensemble Label Noir will peform the play “Heimat, bittersüße Heimat” ("Homeland, Bittersweet Homeland") on 4-6 June in the Hoftheater in Berlin.
A theater group is challenging Germany's assumptions about race, culture and identity with a courageous new production that sheds light on the black German experience of everyday racism.
"My, but you speak excellent German - flawless grammar, perfect accent. Keep up the good work!"
The elderly lady with a prim hat and pursed lips tries to compliment the young black woman sitting on the park bench beside her, but her praise backfires when it's obvious that she can hardly grasp the notion that a person of color can be German at the same time.
This scene is one of a dizzying array of sketches that combine humor and poignant realism to mirror part of the black/Afro-German experience with unsettling clarity.
"Heimat, bittersuesse Heimat" - which translates to "Homeland, Bittersweet Homeland" - blends scenes of daily life with satirical theater. The actors play themselves as well as their white fellow citizens, whose well-meaning questions and remarks often come across as ignorant, invasive and presumptuous.
Audience reactions to the racist gaffes on stage ranged from hushed embarrassment to howls of laughter.
"If you have black friends, they're just laughing," said Vanessa Rottenburg, who plays the Afro-German in the park bench scene, "because their reaction is: 'Oh yeah, I know that grandma.'" Read the full story of the Deutsch Welle here
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