The Steadfast Tin Soldier as Creative Performance
Last Saturday, immediately after coming back from Trondheim where I attended the XP2010 international conference on Agile Software Development, I went with my family to Potsdam in the afternoon for the Fairy Tale Days. We had a little issue with a broken tyre, and missed most of the day because of that. I didn’t really mind because my mind was still full of impressions from Trondheim and that conference.
But, to my total astonishment, I watched one of the best theatrical performances I ever, ever had the chance to. It was The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen, put on stage bei the Meininger Puppentheater.
I don’t very much like theatre. Don’t know why, it’s just not my type of art. I love most performing arts, but theatre mostly bores me. I love fringe performances, though, and this is the best, most creative, fantastic I’ve ever seen.
We went into this hall, black, dark, with three rows of chairs and a big street level stage. The stage was a lot bigger than the audience area and covered in something looking like a huge blanket.
An actor—I think it was Jeff Burell—came out as Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was a weakling, and couldn’t stand the show and parade for his birthday. Lying down to sleep in his bed, in the middle of this big blanket stage, he starts to dream…
But this dream gets distorted into a nightmare. Light and music went frightening, while the blanket was blown up more and more into a big hemispheric shape. Light went white, music silent, and Andersen came out to tell us what he dreamt of as a boy: “I wanted to take everything with me under my blanket, all my family, my friends, my toys…” And he invited us all in…
Feeling a little funny, we all went into the tent-like thing. Inside there were cushions and a few benches in the back.
In the middle there was a stand with a big book, inside which was a lamp. Out of the book he built figures and setting to play the story and cast shadows on the tent wall. Using a small second lamp, he made those shadows move and dance. All the while this was accompanied by perfectly matching music and lights. It’s difficult to describe the effect, but it was full of fantasy like a good storyteller and you felt more inside the scene than any 3D movie I’ve seen so far. There is this part in the story where the soldier is in the sea and eaten by a fish—a movie of a whale underwater was projected on the canvas of the tent from the outside. When in the end the castle, where the soldier finally joins with his beloved dancer, goes up in flames, the big blanket tent was zipped apart at the top, went down all above and around us and we emerged from the story, the blanket, a dream…
If you have a chance to see this, go and do so. It’s been shown 500 times so far all over Europe, and from what I read on their website, you can book those guys..