Single Lives as Single Wants blurs the lines between reality and fiction, questioning the construction of truth and narratives in media. Fresh from its global premiere during 2019’s Performing Arts Festival in Prenzlauer Berg’s Schaubude, the Berlin-based youth theatre group cmd+c Company investigate the case of Paula Knüpling through a multimedia documentary performance. Paula Knüpling also just happens to be a member of cmd+c. Her crime? Knüpling was arrested for allegedly trespassing and destroying public property by graffitiing Potsdam’s Garnisonkirche. Over the course of 70 minutes, ensemble member Moritz Sauer attempts to convince the audience of her innocence, suggesting that her conviction was politically motivated. But did this even really happen or is the whole case just fake news?
While the audience is supposed to be lured into believing the incident actually took place, a lack of subtlety in the narrative often leads to confusion rather than a tangible story one could actually consider true. The illusion works well in places during the lively and varied performance, although inconsistencies in the case, as well as a drawn-out portrayal of situations, people and emotions, ultimately leave the story lacking credibility. This is especially true of the performance’s ending, in which the company’s approach is meticulously explained, thrusting the audience firmly back into the realm of the real. Juxtaposing fact and fiction on stage to question the veracity of media in a post-truth landscape of alternative facts is certainly a hot topic with wide-reaching implications. However, it would have been more effective to play with public perception by leaving the audience in a limbo of truth, floating in a sea of insecurity and destabilised meaning. By the end of the performance, the puzzle is solved and reality and truth are re-established. The audience is reassured with the one, true narrative: it was all made up. But the real truth is: reality is never so clear-cut.
Single lives as single wants – the case of Paula Knüpling, May 31, June 1, 20:00