Legs Apart, Eyes Narrow

The piece "Shootint Bourbaki" has pubescent boys tell of heroes and weapons

Von Sylvia Staude

09.02.2002 / Frankfurter Rundschau, Kulturspiegel

His name is B-Real and tells “Soldier Stories“ on the internet. Tells how he and his mates pulled a massive gun in the Cobo Arena on February 5th, and how the undercover cops freaked. Then let off again , because they were told the gun wasn’t real –“hahaha“. How two female (!) , attractive (!!) cops came into the changing room; the “chicks“ wanted join in the super-party after the concert.

Hip-Hoppers from “Cypress Hill“ whose songs are titled, for instance, Killafornia, Cock a Hammer, or How I could just kill a man put such “Soldier Stories“ onto their homepage: every concert a battle. An incantation of the myth there is a weapon to every real man, especially in addition to an electric guitar.

And to the real boys? The directors team Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel did research on which kinds of threat-, attack- and defence behaviour pubescent boys use to distinguish themselves. The trio looked into the weapons they use with their computer- and other games, how they decorate their rooms and what kind of music they like: Cypress Hill, of course, and Gothic Rock by Marilyn Manson.

The result is an good full hours‘ play which was created together with five 13- to 15-year old Swiss boys named Valentin Erni, Thomas Hostetter, Diego Krauss, Ahmend Mehdi and Adrian Seitz. The play is on show at the moment at the Mousonturm and the title is Shooting Bourbaki – Boyshooting. It was first shown in Lucerne at the Stadttheater at the end of January. The museum of Lucerne has the so-called Bourbaki-Panorama, a painting in the round which captures a historic moment: In 1817, the French General, Bourbaki, left the German-French War with all his 87 000 men and 70 000 guns and went across the border into Switzerland to seek asylum. This was granted, however the French government had to pay for their stay later. Otherwise the weapons would have been kept.

This is one of the stories which is told in Shooting Bourbaki. Haug/ Kaegi/Wetzel approached this topic more in the fashion of gatherers than hunters. This is similar to their previous project, Kreuzworträtsel Boxenstopp (Crossword Pitstop), which was developed with elderly ladies and their reflections on their experiences of getting older and slower. The directors found curiosities, such as shopping bags of the company “Wichser Waffen“ (Wanker Weapons) – this company actually exists - , and sound traditional things, like “Züricher Knabenschiessen“ (Zurich Boyshooting) a funfair with shooting competitions. They quote from instruction manuals and advertising spots of shooting clubs in which the trigger is compared to a lemon. And they also filmed together with their actors in a shooting gallery and in a snow-covered forest showing the five playing Paintball with numb fingers.

Sometimes, Adrian, Valentin, Ahmed, Diego, Thomas stumble somewhat over-enthusiastically over their text, sometimes there are pauses, and sometimes there are little unplanned physical or verbal scrapping. Authenticity is one of the keywords that may be used to approach the theatre of Haug, Kaegi and Wetzel, but they also mean to prevent to create a situation in which actors embody something, and thus provide a surface for the contents of the play to be supported on. Shooting Bourbaki appears to be much more: the door to the children’s room is wide open, here the boys act as adults, there they celebrate almost absent-mindedly their rituals.

In front of a photographic panorama of massive Swiss mountains, the theme is both surrounded and open to all sides. A mosaic is created with ragged fringes and which is never completed. The German-French War fits into it just as well as the American Hip-Hopper, absurd martial dialogues from Star Wars and yellow plastic bags. Presumably, the open form of Shooting Barbouki offered itself readily to tell of five boys who are in search of themselves and their position in society. A position which may at times look like this: legs apart, eyes narrow, hand on weapon. Just like heroes.


Shooting Bourbaki