"Are students in the RC Deutsches Theater productions German or theater majors?"
Usually in a given group, about half of the students have taken coursework in German at the 300 level or above. Most are currently taking second-year German. Some students have been in plays in high school, but most are not drama majors and most have no experience in theater. NO PREVIOUS THEATER EXPERIENCE is required. In fact, the type of performance we do grows out of a tradition of Brechtian theater which is different from the type of theater you have seen, so you learn as a member of the ensemble by doing. Back to the question... Participants come from all backgrounds from psychology to biology, from architecture to music. Most students who participate in one project come back to do more!
"Is it hard for students to memorize their lines?"
In some ways, it may be easier for them to learn lines in German than in English since they tend to learn lines exactly as they are and not make up lines. Students learn their lines at rehearsals, not sitting at home staring at the text. They also work with tapes, the director and other students. Believe it or not, by the time a two-hour play goes up, everyone from the lighting board operator to musicians to actors knows every line of the play!
"How long does Dt. Theater rehearse a play before it is performed?"
Usually 1 1/2 months are devoted to reading several plays together as a group, doing scene work and theater games and selecting what the ensemble will perform. Next, students do scene work, with several people rotating through roles to see various ways of presenting them. By mid-February students are cast into roles. An attempt is made to assign equal-sized roles to students or to give them multiple roles. We step up rehearsals for one month before the play opens. Rehearsals are at least twice weekly and last about 2 1/2 hours. Ensemble members learn and are responsible for all the technical aspects of the production.
"Does Deutsches Theater perform on the road?"
We get many requests to go on tour and we have, on occasion, performed at schools in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area. It is difficult to plan this, however, since it is almost impossible for students to find a time when they are free to travel. One year, Deutsches Theater participated in a theater festival in Connecticut. One year, the entire ensemble did a workshop with high school students in the Grand Rapids area, then performed at the school the next day. The director, Janet Hegman Shier, presents workshops around the country on using theater and the arts to learn language and has taken individual actors and small groups to demonstrate techniques or scenes at these workshops
"Who funds Deutsches Theater projects?"
The Goethe Institut Ann Arbor, the Residential College, and the U-M Residence Hall Association.
"How does the Residential College German Program manage to pull off major theater productions in German?"
This is a million-dollar question! The RC German Program is a magical program. Students really learn to SPEAK German proficiently in the intensive language courses in just one year. Teachers and students, alike, are enthusiastic about the program and a good deal of team spirit contributes to the learning process. That spirit is even more amazing in Deutsches Theater groups, probably as a result of the methods used to create ensemble. This year, in Deutsches Theater, students participated in a mime workshop with a local mime artist, and learned to make masks (used in the production). The group got so close that several people commented in their journals that this was "the best experience" they 'd had in college and they would "never forget the people" in our group, and that they would "miss the group tremendously."(In fact, many plan to continue meeting over the summer as a group.) The RC German Program tries to put the joy back into learning. In Deutsches Theater play production seminars (there is a course students enroll in to be in Deutsches Theater), we usually go on an overnight retreat. The philosophy is: work hard and play hard together. German becomes second-nature to participants.
"What happens with proceeds from Deutsches Theater productions?"
We have donated food and money proceeds to a variety of charities and organizations, including the Ann Arbor Shelter Association, the War Relief Fund (to help orphans in Bosnia), flood victims, a local HIV/AIDS organization, the Ronald McDonald House, and the U-M Breast Cancer Clinic (to start a patients' library).
"Can I get involved with Deutsches Theater if I don't know German? Can I help the company or participate in Deutsches Theater if I'm not an RC student? Can I talk to someone for further information?"
Yes, yes, and more yes (JA!). email us