Von Anke Dürr
28.02.2008 / DER SPIEGEL
Sometimes the average can be enthralling. On stage, for example. Berlin’s Hebbel Theatre is celebrating its 100th birthday with 100 representative, selected Berliners... and with a song for everybody.
Those were the days, when journalists dreamed of becoming dramatic advisors and if nobody employed them, they simply built a theatre. So goes the founding legend of Berlin’s Hebbel Theatre, and because this art-nouveau building in Kreuzberg opposite the SPD headquarters opened exactly 100 years ago on Tuesday, there’s going to be a big party there.
In this context, Friday promises to be a special occasion. The "Rimini Protokoll" company, documentary directors who have already been often and frequently enthusiastically acclaimed here, present their new project in the Hebbel Theatre (which since its fusion with two other theatres is now part of a combine and is called "Hebbel am Ufer 1" or HAU 1 for short).
Given their prodigious output, it is astounding that the (usually) three Rimini directors can always come up with something new, but they do. This time they put 100 Berliners on stage, selected in accordance with statistical criteria so that they form a representative cross-section of Berlin’s population, or “100 Percent Berlin”. Initially people were selected through a chain reaction – one Berliner was found, recommended the next and so on, but the principle has now, due to a lack of time, been relaxed somewhat. Every person selected can now propose other Berliners who fit the parameters. (For the current state of affairs: http://www.hundertprozentberlin.de). What all these average citizens then do on stage remains "Rimini Protokoll’s" secret.
Whatever it is, they won’t be able to rehearse much. One thing is certain though, it’ll be fun. From 10.30 pm on Friday there will be "orchestra karaoke" in HAU 1. The Rias Youth Orchestra will be there to accompany brave singers live, whether they want to sing songs by Madonna, Frank Sinatra or Dschingis Khan. Anyone who ever thought that they’d never be carried away by karaoke will be convinced that they were wrong here. At least that’s how it was at the opening of the season at Kampnagel in Hamburg last autumn, where several hundred people were singing “Moskau, Moskau! Wirf die Gläser an die Wand...” (“Moscow, Moscow! Throw your glasses at the wall...”) at the tops of their voices, coming pretty close to the “mass euphoria” prophesied by HAU.