Dificulties of translation, or Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
by Tatyana Shvets, theater critic
“ZumZum2” performance, room 91 of “Baltiyskiy Dom”/Balit House theatre, St.Petersburg, Russia
Directors: Eberhard Köhler, Valentin Levtsky
Set design –Danila Korogodsky
Composer and player –Rreto Senn (Switzerland)
Selina\Alina –Gitte Repin\Svetlana Smirnova-Kazagadgieva
Sister –Linda Ferster\Elena Polyakova
Urs-Peter\Petr –Patrick Serena\Vladimir Postnikov
Friend, Priest –Mattias Bernhold\Sergey Mardar`
Once again about love. It may be the main idea of "ZumZum2"("SumSum - in German) perfomance, directed by Eberhard Köhler and Valentin Levitsky. Perfomance interpretation of the eternal theme is modern and urgent. Intenet, globalization process, foreign languages as symbols of our time, minimalistic multifunctional sets, live sound of instruments, songs “a capella” as contemporary theatre trends (sets made by Danila Korogodsky). Stage space is abstract and lack of any geographic concern (all detals that need are drawn on the glass walls by actors themselves during the performance). And that it the thing makes the story of the main heroes closer to the audience.
As in ancient Greek plays, "ZumZum2" has its actors of “choir”: those who play the sax and clarinet (Reto Senn), sing songs in peaceful international English, герои, voice the tapes for language practice.
The narration leads in the parallel planes, sometimes even in parallel dimensions. Like in canon singling tradition, the history is told twice – in Russian and in German.
All heroes are searching love, and everybody deserves to be loved. One of the main sences of the performance is waiting – waiting of the future meeting, starting of communication, love story developing and understanding of each other. Russian guy Petr should meet with German girl Selina, German Urs-Peter – with Russian girl Alina, friends of the main heroes want to be aquainted with girls` sisters, sisters – with the boys they are dreaming about. But the awaiting in all cases is better and sweeter that the meeting itself. One may cite Chekov`s words “everybody is so nervous, so nervous and there is a plenty of love”. These words sute the situation a lot.
The play`s author Laura de Wek and directors of the performance stress the gender priorties very carefully: these are girls who are learning the languages of their new mates, despite it is not easy and they don`t reach much success and the communication process depends on the sisters but the girls tried to do their best. As it was said, even for the intention to do something man deserves compliments.
Women`s images in the performance prove the state that different people in different countries may be in the same situation and may struggle the same problems. In this case feelings are more important that nationality. Easily treated combination of deep emotions and light sense of humor and irony in sisters` images by Elena Polyakova and Linda Ferster should be specially mentioned.
The performance as a whole may be compared with Moris Ravel`s “Bolero”: beginning with quiet piano the motiv becomes louder and in the end sounds in pure and aggressive forte. In «Sum Sum2» perfomance emotional tension can be seem twice: in the scene in the beach when language barriers and impossibility of their overcoming may ruin the relations between lovers, and in the final scene of the conversation that causes the end of love. Last chance and last hope for Hollywood styled happy end can`t be true: cross standing of actors in this scene and their parallel discussions in both languages stress the dramatic feeling. Even the translation is not correct any more and differs from the base text more and more. Hope for the happiness was not proved. But could it have been different? The dialogue needs two persons to take part. To build relations one need two persons involved. Could love have coped such difficulties when there was only one person who tried to improve the situation? Certainly, not.
It is interesting, that the first nights of “ZumZum2” in St.Petersburg were at the same time with the 2nd Moscow international Youth Biennale of art “Stop! Who is coming?”, that was focused on the theme of borders. But the same theme sound completely different in the performance and in the Biennale projects. “SumSum2” tells us that the difference in mentalities and habbits is more difficult for overcoming while comparing with geographic borders and pass controls. The conclusion one can make is that studying languages is always great, but the thing that is more important is the skill of understating the other person, and that is the thing we are losing so quickly. And that is the thing that by no means more important than grammar rules and rich vocabulary.