What if you best friends grandfather murdered your grandmother…
This is the question choreographers German Jochen Rollerand Israeli Saar Magalpose in the Australian premiere of Basically I don’t but actually I do which is an examination of German-Israeli relationships, and what it means to be grandchildren of both the perpetrators and the victims of the Holocaust.
In this new collaboration, Roller and Magal take a photo of an SS man shooting a Jewish woman – the starting point as they compile a catalogue of images and situations stored in their heads and bodies as phantoms of the memory of the Holocaust.
As children of the third generation, and grandchildren of both perpetrators and victims, they examine through choreography how these phantoms of memory influence the perception of the other.
Without direct access to the historical information that disappeared with their grandparents, they use various experimental stage set-ups to explore the ideas and realities that shape their German-Israeli relationship.
Roller and Magal met while studying movement at London’s Laban Centre in 1995. Both felt the impact of their heritage – Roller’s grandfather an SS Officer, Magal’s grandmother an Auschwitz survivor – on their friendship. The constant reminders of the Holocaust they faced on a visit to one another’s hometowns formed an archive of contextual movement that became the basis of Basically I don’t but actually I do.
Roller tells that his most special performing experience was in Beirut: He had a performance one evening in January 2006 when Israeli Prime Minister Sharon fell into a coma and rumours about a new war spread. By the time Roller prepared for the evening performance, the streets were filled with tanks and soldiers. People came to the theatre a few hours earlier because it was a place where people could gather. "My rehearsal was in front of people who hung around in the theatre, talking to each other, making phone calls or eating, as if I had not been there." People also came because it was unique that a theatre was playing under such circumstances. Roller remembers the quietness and concentration of the audience that evening. And when he came out into the foyer after the show there was a long queue with the entire audience waiting for him to shake hands and say thank you.
The play is part of the Goethe-Institute’s Berlin Dayz – a festival of German-Australian arts. The festival marks the 20th anniversary of the unification of Berlin.
‘Berlin these days is no longer the industrial or commercial hub of Germany, says Goethe Director Klaus Krischok. ‘Apart from the political element it is the arts scene as well as its rich history that makes it attractive. The integration of the arts in its identity is what Berlin is all about – and that is a very attractive condition….Melbourne seemed the ideal location for this, as the cities share a lot in common, from counter culture to creative industries."
Basically I don’t but actually I do can be seen at the Arts House late November 2010.