Unemployed chronicles #3 – Jedermann

When my landlord presented us with a welcome gift to the play “Jedermann”  or “Everyman” playing at Nussloch, we were a bit apprehensive. We love theatre but we had not yet been to a German theatre. Would we understand? Husband read the synopsis KW had given to us. The abstract story in German was not easy to understand. As we drove 2 kms away through vineyards, we came to the spot where the play was to be staged – an open ground surrounded by a small hill with trees all around and the cement pipes of “Heidelberger Cement” running through. It was up a small hill in an open air ground converted to a make-shift theater. A contrast from Brussels, a melting pot of all colours and languages, I walked in consciously as people looked curiously at us. The play started with a small introduction speech where we were told that this year the audience consisted of people who came from as far as Australia and California and as an impromptu addition by the compere, “this year we also have guests from India”. Jedermann, is the life of “Everyman” told through the metaphor of each character in the play… there is death, there is “good deeds”, there are villains and there are the wronged ones. The quality of acting, singing and the sets took us by surprise. Jedermann took me through the guilt and the pain. When I left the place I just wanted to do “good” for the rest of my life. Not so much due to fear of being alone at the time of death but just because I thought that maybe living through the mundane tasks of life, I had forgotten some good activities in the last few years and focussed on myself. The play made me wonder whether sometimes we do see whether we are doing good acts or not or are we just so immersed in just dealing with life. The singers sang both the church music and the folk music with equal sincerity. Their eyes darted around the audience and held plenty of laughter (not sure that is what was required for the first song shown below) – yet their face and voice were grave. The other songs required the laughter and the lightness. The dancers were uninhibited in their dance and even seemed to be enjoying themselves – were they professionals at dancing? – I wondered. The different types of dances and songs seemed to highlight the mood of different people at the time when Jedermann was feeling the stress of the impending death or uneasiness of some horrific fate waiting to befall him. He tries to shake out of his melancholy, to try to discover his control over the group, only to find himself fall back into yet another one until the external force of death claims him. The nun like figure in the church had a very calm look on her face while the servant could be considered unintelligent and drunk. The love of Jedermann’s life looked quite impatient with him and yet concerned – she seemed to throw herself completely into the role.  The devil captured the hearts of the audience as did the servant. The actors seemed chosen with care to look the part. The set too changed as the play proceeded without the scene being moved or changed to depict the mood of the play. The sky stayed blue and the sun lit the stage and the sets as Jedermann went through the times when he rejected requests for help, enjoyed his material comforts and made plans for his future life. Just as death came to claim him, sun decided to set throwing darkness over the stage – as Jedermann proceeded alone through the claim of death and resurrection after confession, there were just artificial lights to see the play through. I wondered whether the play had been timed keeping in mind the timings for sunset. Yet, it could not be – the play was announced a year before I believe. The costumes were of medieval times and it was quite refreshing to see real people in them rather than just see them in museums on mannequins. Yet, some of the gowns or rather the people in the gowns looked like they were in their modern dancing gown and had a well worked out slim body. This made them stand out like sore thumbs. The appreciative audience laughed at the right places and cheered wildly at the end – specially for the Devil – the one who resembled the Malayalam actor Dileep quite a bit. It was surprising to see children up so late – quite unlike usual days when they are in bed at 20:00. Even the weather co-operated with it being a cool evening at the end of a warm day. The insects hovered near the stage rather than near us causing no disruption. I was surprised by the ending – clearly showing the religious influence over this society at the time the play was written. I wondered how much impact it has on the modern society here where people do not visit church so much. Would this be perceived as a message or as an old-fashioned cultural play to be seen only for the cultural and anthropological value that it brings to today’s society. The big burning cross left the question open in my mind. Overall, I was happy we did go. We understood the language, spoken clearly, quite well – surprisingly for us. We enjoyed the break, a long one of 30 minutes, were I am sure friends caught up, over beer and sausages, about life and that afternoon’s World cup match which Germany had won. The ambience was wonderful, the organizers pleasant, the audience appreciative and the actors sincere and talented. Even the weather seemed to have been ordered to perfection. Yes, I would go for another play.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Agnes says:

    Wunderbar 🙂
    Love the sunset part.

    p/s: Ich kann ein bisschen Deutch sprechen. Meine Grammatik ist nicht richtig — it’s been a long time 🙂

    1. colours says:

      Agnes: Das ist kein bisschen. Meine grammatik ist auch sehr schlecht. Ich mache jeden Tag für 4 stunden ein intensive Kurs aber es ist noch schlimm.

  2. Butterfly says:

    I went for one or two plays in my life. I had fun. I wish I could do it more, but they don’t allow kids, so that leaves a very few options! Glad u had fun.

    1. colours says:

      Ah! I know the feeling. A friend of mine used to come for plays with us and had to stop until the child grew older. Now we are looking forward to resuming watching the plays with them. Children are any day better entertainment than plays :).

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