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Rough (1994)

PHOTOGRAPHY  / VIDEO / CREDITS  /  PRESS

© Dominik Mentzos© Dominik Mentzos© Dominik Mentzos© Wolfgang Kirchner© Wolfgang Kirchner© Dominik Mentzos© Dominik Mentzos© Dominik Mentzos© Dominik Mentzos
  

"OK, so you wanted to do this big production, a musical, but you can’t because they say you got to go deeper with your work with less money and less time and fewer people and you have to use them more so you have to fire ten of your actors but there were problems with personalities on the last tour so most of them quit anyway and they say you have to go further with your work and you have to stop your obsessions with ballerinas, serial killers and fashion designers ‘cause that’s not interesting anymore and you can’t go further with your work, can you? So you decide to make a documentary about it and you start videotaping everything and bugging telephones but you can’t use any of it ‘cause no one says anything interesting so you might drop the documentary and do a soap opera instead or a documentary about a soap opera, a soap opera about a documentary, I don’t know ..."

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Laub
Music Larry Steinbachek
Lighting Michael Laub and Kamal Ackarie
Sound Magnus Borg
Technical director Kamal Ackarie
Production Renata Petroni
Assistant director Sandra Kegel
Performers Richard C. Crane, Charlotte Engelkes, Eva Gustafsson, Jessica Levy, Marta Oldenburg, Diana Pauser, Karl R. Schappell, Carolin Losch, Alexandra Koemers, Karin Klein

Produced by Theater am Turm (Frankfurt)
Co-produced by Kaaitheater (Brussels)
In collaboration with Szene Salzburg, Bergen International Theatre and Kulturhuset, Stockholm.
Funding received from The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs and the Swedish Institute.

 

PRESS

Christine Wahl, Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 19.08.1995
Michael Laub has found an ideal alibi for linking contrasting parodies and the era of technical reproduction: theatre within theatre. The actors and actresses want to perform a musical, but ‘it’s rough’: in the first scene, the actresses stand in front of the audience dressed only in bath towels. The stage is not set up yet. This is a metaphor for the unfinished, the rough, condition of the entire production. The rehearsals for the piece offer room for experimentation in order to transform. An emotionally laden marital row is delivered as it were a monologue, the song line ‘smashing the head’ is set to the tune of synthetic fast-food pop. The dance choreography merely becomes technical movement patterns accompanied by the vocal counting of the steps. Text, music and body language are positioned side-by-side in such a way that they refute each other and cause friction. Laub’s fascination with this concept particularly draws from the affinity between genres. The impressive choreography to the sound of ex-Bronski beat head Larry Steinbachek is given no emphasis, even though this piece is labelled a dance-theatre production. This can be attributed to an astute attack on the expectations of an audience who has dedicated its evening to the piece.

Christelle Prouvost, Le Soir, 17.11.1994
Cynical to an extreme, deliberately kitsch and moderately cruel and funny. Rough owes its strength to the impertinent anxiety of its director and to the surprising personalities of its performers (...) and ti the astonishing music of Larry Steinbachek, who in Jack’s Travelogue already in to an equally bare and disjointed scenography. Nothing is spared, nothing s proposed. What’s left is a beautiful provoking raw energy which inevitably puts everything in question. Isn’t that the essential?

Hein Janssen, de Volkskrant, Amsterdam, 29.04.1994
(...) Michael Laub and his group Remote Control turned Utrecht upside down with Rough, a both intriguing and most contemporary production. This co-production between Theater am Turm, Frankfurt, and Kaaitheater, Brussels, is directed by Belgian Michael Laub, who has been working in Sweden for many years. Europe, in short, sweeps through modern theatre. Two macho guys, one with tattoos, the other with a fierce-looking bald head, and four strikingly beautiful and self-willed women challenge the usual laws of theatre in Rough. It is a collage of text, image, sound and movement, held together by passionate and convincing performers.

Hans Rossiné, Dagbladet, Oslo, 29.01.1994
Rough manages to get under one’s skin. It’s like getting an intravenous shot of Twin Peaks, heavy metal and Out in Nature.

Jo Bech-Karlsen, Bergens Tidende, 31.01.1994
Rough is captivating theatre. The weariness of our times is an underlying theme, so is the search for new experiences, the quest for answers to unanswerable questions. ‘You always want to know more, don’t you, you want to know how she was killed, if she was raped before or after she was killed, ‘cause the old things aren’t interesting anymore, are they?’ Rough is a wild mix of documentary, soap opera and musical. Laub thinks film but creates theatre. (...) This was theatre balancing on a wire between cynicism and tenderness. Maybe that is why it touched us so deeply.

Isabelle Lanz,Trouw, Amsterdam, 02.05.1994
Laub may be a Belgian working in Sweden, but his piece exudes a typically American atmosphere. The cynical texts seem to be extracted from the harsh reality of life, and its exaggerated version – film. Trenchant monologues and deliberate emotionless dialogues are interspersed with short dances. Violence, sex, vanity, naive expectations and vulnerability, it’s all there. The measured pace, the insistent way sound is used and the quality of the performers make it a fascinating piece.

Marie Baudet, La Libre Belgique, 17.11.1994
The sound by Larry Steinbachek fills the space with blasting bass which often leaves room for the silence of repetitive movements. After each sequence, the white and crude light ridicules what just happened on stage. Rough is a cynical and cruel dive into the universe of soap operas, which it addresses by making a relentless and caustic autopsy of the medium. With roughness but without bitterness. Mostly with a solid dose of humour of those who, without falling into the trap of easy caricature, have studied the ridiculous at length before denouncing it.

Lars Fetköter, Die Welt, Hamburg, 30.07.1994
Rough is supposed to be a test of various draft scenes for a musical. But this wild brainstorm of a play can already stand on its own and ranks among the very funniest offerings of this year’s Summer Theatre Festival. Drastic brutality plays a role as well as cool eroticism. (...) The quickly changing fragments are underscored with music by Larry Steinbachek: from thudding rhythms to cool jazz melodies. In all the chaos, the brisk sequences assemble into a wonderfully refreshing collage that never takes itself too seriously.