Centuries after Shakespeare declared "all the world's a stage," the American Drama Group Europe is proving just that.
As an expat in Munich struggling with German on a daily basis, being able to enjoy a break from der/die/das by heading to the cinema to catch a film in English has been a fairly regular escape of mine. However, it wasn't until relatively recently that attending live English-language, British accented plays at the theatre made it's way onto my "ways to hide from German" list. Though my first steps into this world were trepid and rather unknowing, I was met with a delightful surprise.
They are called the American Drama Group, and they perform regularly in Munich. To my surprise, the Group has been around for more than two decades, with their first performance having taken place at the University of Munich lecture hall in 1978 with "Cat On A Hot Thing Roof" by Tennessee Williams . For 25 years they have followed the dream of standing out for all the right reasons. Currently, the statistics looks like this:
Thirteen productions, 1000 performances on three continents in 45 countries and more than 400 cities, with 80 artistic participants. My first experience with ADG was last year, when I saw "Taming of the Shrew" - quite a noisy play which is complicated enough in a Shakespearean way. The performance was in the America Haus in Munich and the hall was completely booked. I took this to mean one thing - those guys must be good! After I saw the play, there was no way I could leave it at that; I had to check what their next play was, when it was being performed and where. It turned out to be Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels," performed perfectly with minimal décor and a lot of passion. The actors delivered the play in such a way that set up a very interesting relationship between the actors and the audience, which they call "audiencentric". As they say, "theatre is for you, our public".
The last piece they performed in March 2013 was "Much Ado About Nothing" in the Amerika Haus in Munich. The play practically started with lights on, actors jumping out of the stage, running through the hall and making too much ado. It wasn't for nothing. The play was wonderfully performed with vivid Shakespearean English, yet very well adapted for the mass audience who were laughing wholeheartedly and enjoying the witty acting, singing and dancing. At one point, one of the actors pulled out a girl from the public to put her on stage, making her part of the happening for about ten minutes.
For the record, ADG performs a very diverse range of plays, from Shakespeare ("Hamlet", "Taming of the Shrew", "Much Ado about Nothing", "Macbeth") to Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World") and Charles Dickens ("Oliver Twist"). The good news is they are adding even more to their schedule. Not only names, but also languages, so be aware of the coming soon "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, in Spanish. Their performances are widely popular in Europe, having graced stages in UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic and the Baltic countries. It seems not even Europe is exactly enough, as they have enured that theatre lovers in Singapore, Japan, China and the Arabian Gulf also have the opportunity to enjoy their plays.
So, the next time you feel like you need to see a quality performance in a language you understand, just look around for American Drama Group Europe. I promise you won't forget the experience.