Black Maria

René Pollesch returns to the Deutsches Theater (Mar 4, 15, 23, 24) with a part theatre evening, part film screening modelled around a replica of the Black Maria.

Image for Black Maria

Photo by Arno Declair

Pollesch is indefatigable. He’s already churned out over 100 plays at a rate of about five a year. Describing what any particular one is about, however, is often a futile task that misses the point. In this respect, his latest and second offering at the Deutsches Theater, his new apparent home following the dissolution of Castorf’s Volksbühne, is remarkably coherent: a post-dramatic dissection of representation on screen and stage set in the world’s first commercial film studio, the Black Maria. So far, so meta. The studio itself was named after the black prisoner carriages of the 1890s, which in turn were named after a famous racehorse. In Pollesch’s Black Maria, however, he takes no prisoners, launching a caustic assault on the hegemonic representation of white heterosexual males, a hegemony that renders them invisible in film and theatre. They have the privilege of simply blending in. The plotless play bears all of the director’s trademarks: actors play parodic versions of themselves as they go on lengthy tautologous tangents peppered with critical theory and innumerable puns. But those needing to brush up on their German skills be warned: this is high-paced theatre, a rollercoaster of rhetoric that often derails into pedantic philosophical rants. (For the uninitiated, his recently premiered Cry Baby is surtitled and would make for a better gateway Pollesch.) Critics lambast post-dramatic theatre as dead theatre but Black Maria begs to differ. Pollesch proves plot arcs and narratives redundant – and delivers a hilariously biting, irony-stuffed polemic in the process.

Black Maria Mar 4, 15, 23, 24