An Actor and an Actress and a Stage Manager are in a rehearsal room in a small provincial town in East Germany in January of 1990. They are getting ready for the public sharing they have with the friends of the theatre at the beginning of each year to lay out the year’s programme.
But this year is different. The Wall has come down. Local and national government are in disarray. The border is open and the theatre, like everywhere else in town, is haemorrhaging staff. The boilers have been left unheated and the theatre is freezing…so the event has been moved to the rehearsal room.
The director of the theatre and the dramaturg come into the room.
Should we make an entrance, do you think?
No. Let the audience discover us. In our place of work… It’s not like every other year. Actually, I think I prefer this. Let them see us in our place of work.
I don’t know if I like it. This is such a special room…I don’t know if I want to be looked at in here. (to the actors) Good morning, Rolf, Good morning, Anita. Thank you for coming in. (to the Dramaturg as well as the Actors) You’ll probably think I’m old fashioned, but I find I don’t like the idea of allowing the audience…in here…It’s not that I believe in protecting the magic of the theatre…I do not believe in hiding the machinery…we are here to sell the brass…we are in the world…but this is our corner of the world. We go out there to show them what we’ve done in here…what we do in here, ultimately, is for them…but there is always…I have always felt a sense of loss…the moment we go out there. Out there, it’s…as if the world as it is…with all of its…lies and compromises…contaminate the work…In here, one can…practice…defending ourselves…but a rehearsal room means much more than that. In a rehearsal room, one can behave, perhaps, for a while, for a few weeks…as if we were already living in a better world.
We are living in a better world. It’s a much better world than it was yesterday…and yesterday it was already much better than the day before that.
DIRECTOR We see things differently, perhaps.
Do we? What does that mean? Excuse me…What does that mean?
What that means is the subject of the next hour as old rivalries and new ambitions clash in the arena of a brand new world. Can the individuals respond to what has happened to them? What, if anything, will survive of their past? And who was watching who?
To book free tickets to the rehearsed reading of ENSEMBLE at the Edinburgh Fringe on 12 August, click here. The reading will run from 14:00-15:30 in the Project Room, 50 George Square.