Caroline Jaden Stussi's directorial debut is an ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on psychological manipulation. Realized in collaboration with manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon, Nameless highlights subliminal tactics largely diffused in our society, featuring a radical and disturbing take on narrative. We are pleased to present Caroline Jaden Stussi for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Caroline, how did you come up with the idea Nameless?
There were two approaches to Nameless. The first is as a female independent filmmaker. As a woman, I was excited to visualize female vulnerability, which can explain why women sometimes deal differently with external triggers. I believe that women can be more sensitive to subliminal tactics. I was also curious about making a film in one continuous take. In real life there are no cuts. Everything is a continuum. There was also the aspect of experimenting with unconventional means of filmmaking. Working without budget makes you independent of any financiers and allows such. You can be more provocative and explorative since the film isn’t expected to make any money. This film was realized with only $700, which were partly raised on kickstarter. I also wanted to create a contemporary work embedding European film culture into an American setting. This is due to the fact that I’m born in Switzerland and live now in Los Angeles where the film was shot.
The second approach stems from an observer of real life. Psychological manipulation is largely diffused in our society. I saw it even more accentuated in the Entertainment industry, which is still a male dominated field. Therefore, I decided to adapt it as the setting of the film in which a director auditions an actress. Nameless is about abuse of power using intimidation, authority, and bargaining. The bestseller “In sheep’s clothing: understanding and dealing with manipulative people,” on which Nameless is based, was a real eye-opener in understanding the magnitude of the theme. It made me realize that I wanted to create imagery for those words. Therefore, Nameless is not only a drama, but also an educational film. It made me really happy when Nameless got integrated into classes at a college in Europe.
It seemed like a perfect marriage to visualize manipulative tactics with a one continuous take since they are characteristic for a gradual consistent process of working somebody’s psyche. You can also read more details about it on the website www.onetakenameless.com.
From the first time we watched Nameless we were deeply impressed by the way you are able to use a single continuous shot throughout the film. Can you comment this peculiar aspect of Nameless?
I was ardent to pose the notions of truth and reality of manipulation. I believe that cinéma vérité can bring awareness and understanding that can contribute to positive change. The truth and reality is that subversive tactics don’t ever stop. They’re a continuous. This strikes me as one of the key characteristics of subliminal manipulation. I really wanted to emphasize that in a radical way. It’s almost a constant rewiring of the mind and it entangles you and builds some sort of invisible net around you. That’s what inspired me to circle the victim with the camera. In Nameless there is also the aspect of predatory behavior. The director on the film tries to coerce an auditioning actress to engage sexually with him. In that sense, he is like a hunter who has selected its pray and circles it, drawing the circles closer and closer without leaving it ever out of sight.
To me the continuous circling has also a poetic dimension. You go over the same thing over and over and yet – every time it is on a different level. To me that also creates a dreamlike feel in the sense that it starts to create a micro globe in which one starts to exist – it makes you dizzier and dizzier –but at the same time it’s the visualization of what is really going on. That again is in itself a strategy of psychological manipulation: to work the victim so long until the/her cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined and by rewiring his/her sense of those two.
In Nameless I wanted to push the envelope and cross the boundaries of conventional story telling by working with only one take and by adding the dimension of circling. It seemed a bold way to capture the unconscious emotional reactions of the actress. Everybody said that this would make it unwatchable and unattractive to be seen by an audience, but in reality a victim who doesn’t know how to defend him-/herself is exactly caught in that loop and cannot escape too. I wanted to create the same experience for the audience. Therefore, I was thrilled when Nameless got distribution by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC.) I was jazzed that there is an audience, which appreciates innovative films outside the conventional mainstream. This inspired the translation of the film in various languages.
How did you develop the ‘script’ and the structure of the film?
Nameless started with the fascination for continuous takes and the theme. The script and structure followed. Usually one has a script first. When you have a clean point of view of the protagonist where the camera pretends to be that person and no cuts, it changes the dialogue and the dynamic of a scene. The dialogue was fully rooted in bestseller author Dr. G. Simon’s book by adapting different subversive tactics and constantly pushing for more. For my next project, a feature film, I gravitated back to the traditional way and started with the screenplay, which is being finalized now. The continuous take was also challenging for me as an actress. You have to nail it since the take is so long while trying to direct at the same time.
I have been asked whether Nameless is inspired by Béla Tarr’s earlier films, which also utilize unconventional storytelling methods such as long takes to achieve realism. I feel very honored about that and I cannot wait to watch them.
The contribution of manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon has been fundamental: can you talk about how it has impacted your work?
Dr. G. Simon really made me understand how perfidious psychological manipulation really is – how it works, the different strategies there are, how they are applied, what goes on with the victim as well as the aggressor. I put all of that into Nameless. He made me also realize how often it happens and that we all do it to some extent. The question that arises here is almost of philosophical nature: when does a behavior become manipulative. The line can indeed be very thin. While in Nameless I approached the theme from the point of realism and truth, I approach such philosophical questions very differently in my next project in a more fun and almost philosophical, poetic, magical way of a fairytale.
Dr. Simon paved the way in analyzing and wording this subject in a comprehensive way on which I could build on in creating Nameless. I was captivated by his input that awareness and understanding of those mechanisms can provide help and change people’s lives. Often people are vaguely aware what is happening with them. By educating about the subject one levels the playground. It is important to provide verbiage of those subtle tactics that are so hard to be clothed into words, to visualize the unsee-able. I was fascinated when he made me aware that the two intentions of manipulators are to win and to look good doing it. They always have a justification for all their doings. That makes it so hard to word what it going on.
In my next feature, a dramedy, one of the questions raised is to what extent technology is good or bad. And in a way the conclusion is that it all depends on the intent of the applier. In a way everything is neutral (I hope this does not just stem from me being from Switzerland.) One might say that it is knowledge and intent that defines whether the same action is good or not. Dr. Simon helped me understand the intentions of both sides as well as the level of knowledge. I believe that women can be easier targets since they are more likely trying to understand the psyche of a manipulator and hereby are more likely to accept the latter’s logic and justifications. As an actress, it was fun portraying that especially because her role consisted almost exclusively of nonverbal reactions.
The notion of intent and knowledge being decisive in how something is considered is also familiar to me from my legal background. I am also keen in contributing to female empowerment in that way.
Nameless features a brilliant cinematography reminding us of Derek Jarman's cinema. How did you develop your visual style?
I had the great pleasure to work with Sasha Krane and to be part of Monte Hellman’s entourage. Both of them have inspired and encouraged me in different ways immensely. The most challenging thing about making this film was to find my own visual voice. Especially since it was my first film. When you are surrounded by great charismatic artists whose work you admire one might have a tendency to follow their style and ideas. Even if it were subconscious. I also learnt about myself that I am more about exploring than producing a product.
I have also experienced both of them being very open and supportive of interesting strong female roles. This is also one of the reasons that I also hope to be cast on one of their future projects. Especially Sasha Krane always encouraged me to write about female issues and power, which bleed into Nameless. Monte Hellman has a very sensitive way of portraying women. I always feel that they move more freely in his films. Therefore, I would love to have him also on board for my next project for which I just finished the script.
Furthermore, I have been mostly influenced by photography. Maybe because my acting career started as a model and maybe because I see photography as the art of telling a story in only one picture as opposed to 24 frames per second one has in film. Helmut Newton’s empowerment of women always struck me. A friend of mine worked for him. He told me that even though Newton’s images involved psycho-sexual scenarios that one constant through all of those shoots was that the models were always in control. The dynamic was in their favor. I wanted to do the same in Nameless. In the film, the director has only the leverage of his position. In order to make aware of how elaborate and intentional his manipulation strategies are, I decided to use a subjective camera. The camera is in the director’s place. We see what he sees. We are in the voyeur’s shoes but the actress is really in control – she carries the scene and compels the audience with her reactions and inner life - she also ultimately turns the tables on the director – and the dynamic is really in her favor.
For me the cinematic style trickles down from the character. When you have strong protagonists, I feel strong cinematic choices are reflective of that. One of my first films I acted in dealt with the women of the French Revolution. Maybe that initiated my taste for strong female roles. Unfortunately there are usually less female acting parts in films and also less female filmmakers. I truly hope that this will change and more strong female parts and ways of expression arise.
Why did you decide to play the lead part in Nameless yourself?
I was stimulated by the challenge to express all emotions almost solely silently with reactive expressions. The auditioning actress in Nameless does hardly speak but listens to the wordy dialogue of the off screen director while being on camera all the time. It was also challenging since in fact, the other actor was in a different room and I looked at the camera and not at a real person. I was not sure whether throughout the long take I would not break the forth wall. The character was intriguing to me and I could easily connect to her through my own experiences in auditions. This was also a nice change since I had just finished shooting the web series Wingnutz, a comedy with a complete different tone and pace, shot only on greenscreen. The only thing the two projects have in common is that they are both indie. I was also curious about how well I would deal with wearing different hats at the same time – acting and directing together. In Nameless the camera work suddenly changes when the actress turns the tables on the director at the end.
In the future, I would like to work even more internationally and make use off all the different languages I speak. But that would require that I be represented in several countries.
What do you hope viewers will take away from Nameless?
I hope that Nameless and all my future films initiate some sort of healing in people and contribute to positive changes. I also wish that my work can pave the way when dealing with current relevant topics and provide help where needed. In Nameless that is how to defend yourself and counter psychological manipulation. I do believe that social deficiencies need to be voiced in some form in order for changes to the positive. To me that also involves the equal employment opportunities in the Entertainment industry for women as cinematographers and actresses. Only then there will be more stories about women and more female point of views. I had the great opportunity to act in the feature film “Secret Trees of Inspiration” which was based on my life with a female director and producer. The film is about a woman being on a journey to find her inner self, guided by her revenge angel. The approach for the film was very different than anything I had ever worked on before just due to the fact that it was mainly women working in the key positions. I like differences and I do feel that there should be more opportunities to showcase them in positive empowering ways for all.
I also hope that my films will become a sort of a store from which you can take out what you need and desire most in that very moment. It would be an honor if Nameless would also inspire people. I remember how certain films inspired me as a child and got me into the industry early on. It would mean a lot to me if I could give some of that back.
Hopefully they will also remember me as a magnetic force in front of the camera and cast me for interesting female parts on their independent projects.
What's next? Have you a particular film in mind?
As mentioned above, I am currently finalizing the script for my next project, which is an independent feature film in the dramedy genre. It is about our use of technology and the different levels of realities that it creates. Even though the film deals with some serious themes and raises some philosophical questions, the setting and tone of that film is more playful than in Nameless. It is a film to entertain and seduce one into a poetic magical world.
The next step is to find financing. While Nameless was shot with a minimal budget and was partly self-funded, this will not work for that project. There seems to be already a more international dimension to it than in Nameless. For the script I collaborated with a writer in Switzerland and we are currently negotiating with a potential sponsor in Europe. We also hope that we get some financial help in Dubai where I helped in finding some sponsoring for the feature “Secret Trees of Inspiration,” which was partly shot there. All in all we are open to new creative and unconventional ways of financing.
For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?
I agree that there are not as many female filmmakers as male ones. While I was blessed to be around male filmmakers who were very encouraging and supportive of female empowerment in this medium, I do also feel that there is a general excluding tone for women in that industry. Maybe we have not proven ourselves yet enough. We should be able to encourage ourselves among each other and develop some sort of female comradely companionship. While I do think that maybe even legal steps might have to be taken to achieve equal opportunities in this field, I also strongly belief that this should not happen by putting men down in any way. We do need both views - female and male ones. Difference is good. And ultimately it should not be about whether something was created by a man or a woman.
It strikes me that the number of men and women graduating film school with focus on directing is apparently about 50/50 and yet, the number of working female directors so disproportionally low. This leads me to the question whether women are equally considered in the hiring of a directing job. If not, then there might be a gender discrimination. According to the Los Angeles Times, the American Civil Liberties Union tries to initiate an investigation in that regard.
But we do not even have to go behind the camera – there is a similar phenomenon for actresses in front of the camera. Even though the worldwide number of women is about equal to men, a study of just showed that there are fewer lead roles for women. In my opinion this does also apply to the total number of female roles there being less total female roles than male ones. This makes even less sense considering the fact that women make up the majority of moviegoers meaning that the majority of the target audience wants to see female topics and characters they can more relate to. The gender of a role breakdown is in my opinion most often not truly integral to the narrative. This also leads me to the question whether also in front of the camera there might be a gender discrimination going on.
Thanks for your time and thought, Caroline Jaden Stussi. We wish you all the best with your career.
FREEDOM. MYTH AND REALITY IN THE LIGHT OF INDIVIDUAL VIEWS
(Author: Edit Seidl, German title: Freiheit. Mythos und Realitaet im Lichte individueller Betrachtungen, ISBN 978-3-03810-023-2):
"Freedom is the ability in the practical and emotional-mental sense to decide for or against something." Caroline Jaden Stussi, actress, model, filmmaker.
What freedom means to me:
I personally understand the meaning of the word freedom in the way that a person is able to decide for or against something. That comprehension of freedom consists for me personally of three elements: first, a legal frame that guarantees conditions, which enable the making of an own decision; then, secondly, the existence of a situation, which in reality also allows the making of such a decision; and thirdly, an emotional constitution and a mental frame of mind which allow a free choice. When all three elements are given simultaneously, then, in my view of freedom, a person is free. It is then that there is not only a permission to decide for or against something, but also the actual capability in a practical, emotional and mental sense to do so.
What is the significance of freedom in my life?
That comprehension of freedom gives me strength and inspiration to strive for higher things. It reminds me constantly of the figures who fought for a livable freedom and whose fates paved the way
for our opportunities today. I'm filled with gratitude when I see how much suffering our ancestors endured to generate today's status of unbound decision-making. I'd like to continue paving that
path by contributing my own share to an even more holistic type of freedom. In my case, this is accomplished through acting. Often the lack of at least one of those elements of freedom mentioned
above is one of the reasons why a character to be portrayed is experiencing emotional pain. As an actress, it is my duty to portray this in a manner that makes this intellectually comprehendible
and emotionally perceivable to the outside world. That includes the portrayal of the context as well as the mental and emotional consequences of such a lack of freedom in a perceivable way for
the audience. That often leads to a certain resolution for the suffering character him-/herself and an understanding for him/her by the outside world. That then can open hearts, lead to a dialog
and pave the way for positive changes. That objective lets me practice the acting in a way, which again and again leads me to places out of my comfort zone. In that sense, my motivation to give
and to provide a contribution to positive changes lets me strive for higher things in acting. And the best part is: I myself did freely decide to do so.
EVENT.COM (included in SCHWEIZER ILLUSTRIERTE):
<Nameless> is 18 minutes charged cinema-thrill. Not one cut and so many facets of this woman, who is cast for a film part. But it is not a normal casting. The director talks hauntingly with the fatal mix of praise, threat and disappointment, with the goal that she strips of her cloths. With this, Caroline Jaden Stussi shows an analogy to the methodology pedophiles use to make a child obey with confusion, fear and bad conscience. A brutally strong performance of a one-woman-performance in one take. SNM
Ask the Right Questions
Two and a half years ago, when Caroline Stussi arrived in Los Angeles from Switzerland, she went to the Lee Strasberg Institute because it's one of the acting schools known overseas. But she wasn't happy there. "You always had to go to painful places to get something out," she says, "and that was just not logical for me." So she started calling teachers and schools she saw in Back Stage with a few prepared questions: What's your approach? What teachers did you study with? Do you use one method or several? What do you emphasize? Are there working actors in your classes? That last question was especially important to Stussi, because she wanted to study among professionals.
Many of her phone calls were never returned, but those who responded fast seemed professional to her, and she audited three classes. Stussi found that the answers she got on the phone were quite different from the reality in the classroom - particularly the quality of the students, which was often shockingly low. She guesses her questions weren't specific enough; perhaps she should have asked, "Do all your actors work professionally?" As it turned out, many did not. "Maybe it would have been useful to have a questionnaire," she says.
It was also crucial for Stussi that classes be month-to-month rather than semester-long and that professional jobs always take priority. Some classes required that she attend even when she'd booked a job at the same time, and "that was impossible for me," she says. She also knew she didn't want to drive more than an hour and didn't have a lot of money to spend, but that she'd be flexible if she found the right class. And she did: Stussi has been studying with Fabianna Medici for a year now and intends to continue.
Caroline Jaden Stussi: Interview with Swiss actress in Hollywood
Caroline Jaden Stussi is an actress from Switzerland, who paved her way to Hollywood. She did what others dream of. We from Agentinnen had the opportunity to get to know how that went to realize her dream, which difficulties she encountered, and what to watch out for. Here is the interview, a video interview is to be followed within the next days.
Caroline, to start with, tell us a little bit more about yourself:
Caroline Jaden Stussi: I was born in Basel, Switzerland and accidentally got into the business at age 3. Back then we lived in Frankfurt, Germany, and my mother submitted me for a modeling competition, which I ended up wining. This was followed by intensive modeling years for the Otto Versand Katalog, Spengler Katalog and Schild Katalog, mixed with commercials on radio and TV. After our return to Switzerland, I joined a theatre group at age 6, where I acted in numerous plays. I remember well how I decided on stage on an opening night at age 7 that I would do this professionally later in the US: working as an actress. At age 11 I was under the 3 swiss finalists for the lead in Michael Douglas' Film Courage Mountain, an adaption of the swiss myth Heidi, in which also Charlie Sheen was cast. This was the first concrete hint towards Hollywood.
And how did you tackle to get to Hollywood?
Since I was determined back then already to go to Hollywood but didn't want to be unprepared, I thought of all the abilities that are needed to produce a film by oneself from beginning to end. I just wanted to be prepared for the case if I wouldn't be offered any parts in a way that I would be able to produce projects in which I would act by myself instead. I soon concluded that this would involve some economic, some legal and some media knowledge. Based on that I decided as a teenager to first adopt some Know-how in these areas first before going to LA. Since my parents had an advertising company and later a press agency in which I would help out often, I had access to the media world since an early age. Later, I would enroll in economics at the university and worked 80% beside since I paid for living and tuition all by myself. After 5 years I had to abort the studies because an exam was not passed twice and had to leave. This was due to working so much beside college. My confidence was pretty low. Somehow the thought that in the end I was doing all of this for an acting career built me up and I could qualify for a loan to go to Law School, which I graduated with a Masters in only 3.5 years. In order to obtain the financial knowledge, I worked as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Swiss National Bank, because I thought that this would be important to have the ability to produce a film on my own.
And then came LA?
Finally I felt ready and got in a plane to LA with 2 bags - in the US for the first time. I didn't know anyone in LA. A room was found online from Switzerland.
That is pretty courageous! And how did it go on?
In LA I went to the Lee Strasberg Institute and met a lot of ex-misses from around the world. It was very difficult to get the appropriate work visa and right when I got it there were 2 strikes - the writer's strike and the union strike - which almost stopped the industry.Beside acting school I had continuously worked as an assistant director. Therfore I already knew some people in the industry and always got some jobs. Even so, there were times in which I had to move out of my room and lived in my car and didn't have food for sometimes 4 straight days. That was pretty hard.
And then came the turning point?
Then came parts for the spanish TV in LA and I started to sign autographs. That's when things started happening - I started to get parts for the american TV - in spite of my accent - and was asked by a german producer whether she could turn my life story into a film.
And now your life story has been made into a film!
I am the oldest of 6 kids and raised my siblings more or less. The only activity I was allowed to do beside school, working in the parent's family business, and taking care of the kids, was modeling and acting. Therefore this was the door to happiness from an early age on. There was almost every kind of abuse in our home. The producer had heard my story from a common friend and was fascinated. The shooting of "Secret Trees of Inspiration" - the name of the fiction docu - was the hardest performance of my life. In front of rolling cameras I had to go through every trauma, which had so successfully been forgotten. After the shoot I kept crying for a week and wasn't able to go in front of the camera for a long time. In the meantime I worked on a lot of sets with stars like Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeniffer Aniston, Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche etc. and just applied for the permanent resident card.
Dear Caroline, thank you for the interview and lots of success in the future in LA!!!!
The Great Swiss Docu-Soap starts on Monday on BLICK.ch
The cleaning lady from Zurich would like to become a dancing superstar like in Dirty Dancing and Fame, she said. As the ugly duck of the group, she has the biggest heart, all people trust her.
The Zuricher failed as a Marketing planner. Now the retailer wants to become the second Tom Cruise. Patrick also works as a model and knows “It is not my fault that I look so incredibly awesome. ”
The dream of the Basel construction draftsman, and hobby boxer Daniel “I would like to be the next Silvester Stallone”. Daniel has an explosive character - conflicts are preprogrammed (hard-wired).
The blond girl from Basel is the sex bomb of the sextet. Already in the first season on Monday, she boldly stated, “I am a real Jennifer Lopez, I can sing and act”, the lively enjoyer grins.
Rene likes to make jokes. “Hollywood needs a Bruce Wallis” he laughs. But he means it seriously. At the age of 16, when he was already in Keller-Theater Brig, he dreamt about a career in the USA.
The commercial clerk from Wädenswil City is “tough outside, but soft inside” type. She would like to start as “the Swiss Sandra Bullock”
The first Swiss Web-Soap.
With Daniel and Janelle.
Always on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Blick.ch
Video Hallo Hollywood
YANGZOM BRAUEN INVITES
The first Swiss Web-Soap
Starting Monday 9.14.2009 on Blick.ch
Video Hallo Hollywood
SBB CFF FFS
Supplement for the opening of the new stretch of road Mattstetten-Rothrist
The events in Olten and Bern are on Saturday, October 23,
Video clip: Mr. Schweiz is the rooster in the henhouse.
Zurich-the women stood in a queue yesterday in order to be allowed to stand in front of the camera with Mr. Schweiz Renzo Blumenthal. The leading actor was actually the Zurich DJ Dr. Click who currently shoots with the Bündner Beau his new video clip. The content: the two men organize a flirting competition –attractive women and other
supernumeraries were searched for “we have been really overrun, 300 people
came” said the organizer. www.drclick.ch
Mr. Schweiz Renzo Blumenthal with three supernumeraries for a video clip of the Zurich
Dj Dr. Click.
Watch out now:
Soon the new Heidi will be selected!
Caroline Reinhard (11) speaks English and German, she introduces herself as Heidi , as a bold, rural, but honest girl.
I live on the countryside, where foxes and hares say good night to each other, says Monika (10) She loves nature, dances and makes music.
An established little person full of fantasy and love of life is Tamara Föllmi (10). It would be nice to become “Heidi”.
Corinne Velter (9) loves animals like this young goat, music, gymnastics and nature.Besides German, she speaks English at home.
Am I the new Heidi?
500 blond scoops are curious about the answer, because soon the Heidi search will be completed. BLICK had received within a week mountains of photos.The pictures will now be sent to Michael Douglas and his Movie-team. Then it will be decided who will play the little girl from the mountains in Hollywood.
in the Basel Children’s Theater
Colorful mystery story
Who stole the colors?
A lot of fun and playfulness: a colorful mystery in the Basel Children’s Theater. It is sad but true ‐ more and more, people are unscrupulously stealing things which are not nailed down. Even the most firmly attached things are torn off or unscrewed. And now even the colors! Who stole the purple from the curtain, the green from the leaves of the tree, the brown e traffic lights are from the slats of the garden fence? And eventually even the colors of the traffic lights are stolen, causing city traffic to collapse and finally, the stage sun is stolen after which, of course, the world becomes very dark und terribly cold. It goes without saying, that the tall policeman gets increasingly upset once a little girl disappears and she needs to be searched for. But he himself is to blame, or, to be more precise, Horst Lang is to blame as the only adult actor, who, with the performance "the color thief” makes sure that everything goes haywire in the Basel Children’s Theatre
Anneli, who is nine years old and therefore only one year younger than her stage mother, has suffered long enough in her beautiful white dress from this situation. Now the wizard comforts her and allows her to take all the colors she likes. This in turn, immediately becomes a case for the police (“ain’t never happened here before”) who follows the traces of the missing colors very precisely and very cleverly. But since Anneli
is not very happy in her colorful skirt now because she is ridiculed by the other
children,the wizard makes sure that everything returns to the way it was before. With this color mystery story, Horst Lang addresses the youngest viewers in
particular. Yet there is so much genuine enthusiasm involved in the play
as well as in the performance of the small actors, that even the older ones in the audience express sheer delight. The stage design displays the eager commitment of the
five‐ to almost nine year olds and contributes to the fresh, colorful impression of the play.
Small Stage, The color thief, By Horst Lang, Direction and scenery: Horst Lang, Stage design: Children of the Craft school, Horst Lang, Costumes: Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim, Sound: Children of the theater
A fairy tale about and for children
The premier of the play “the color thief” was at the same time the fourth premier of the current season organized by the Craft school in Basel. The stage play in three pictures and two acts was invented by Horst Lang the principal of the school. He is also the only adult who plays in the performance. Apart from that, only children between the ages from 2 to 13 play and accordingly a target audience is expected. Basel. The young audience, who was represented by approximately 50 adults, besides parents, was present during the presentation. The stage play plot is about a child, who was visited by a magician, because he felt unhappy. From the time of this visit, some things are no longer the same. Colors vanish from the landscape, and lately the yellow color of the sun can no longer be detected. What remains are the white objects, and the police officer, who is called in, has a lot of work to do to find the color thief. After all he
needs to find a missing child who is dressed all in white. When he takes a closer look at the room of the missing child, he makes the most remarkable discoveries. Since Horst Lang is himself involved in this story, light and sound had to be taken over by a child. Children painted the stage design as well. The “Northern Switzerland” learned in a conversation with the 10-year-old leading actor Caroline Gnoza, student, that the rehearsal time for the presentation was approximately 12 hours. They worked on the stage designs for about three afternoons.Further presentations of this play are on January 28, and 29, at 4 p.m. If somebody would like to listen to “Kindermund live,” he should see one of the presentations.
A fox wants to fly. By Olivia Lang-Scheim. Direction: Olivia Lang-Scheim. Stage design; Horst Lang.
Costumes: Maria Scheim, Masks: Olivia Scheim-Lang.(resumption from the Saison 1974/75)
Entrance fees: Per space and nose, whether big or small Fr.4.50 Inc. ticket tax
For groups of 20, Noses: Fr.3.50, the adult companions have free entrance.
Play duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes, inc. a small break
<A fox wants to fly>
A new production of the Basel children’s theater: <A fox wants to fly> It is stated ambiguously that it is for people from the age of four on the invitation…...It is a story,-almost a fable, which Horst and Olivia Lang have produced with “their” children. It takes place in the woods, in which it is well known that the animals live, animals who are friends and foes with each other, animals that play with each other and animals that chase each other, set traps to each other, creatures that love and harm themselves *tout comme chez nous*
The plot develops from this background: simple, logical, determined. As the title already indicates. Wise guy fox has a rampant idea to learn how to fly. He kidnapped two reckless disobedient bird girls, who have to teach him this art. But as expected: the final rehearsal fails, fox Reinecke lands on his nose, has the damage and needs no more ridicule. He withdraws ashamed and worried. Peace and happiness prevail again in the spring forest. This spring forest, a very charming stage, for which all contributors are responsible. The leaves and flowers shine magically, butterflies flutter around, birds buzz between the
branches, the owl blinks bright eyes, the spider spins real threads, big as a Ruebezahl, the forester trudges through his empire, the hedgehog, the dog and the bird who has a cold, -who is black- become friends, to stop the crooked fox. Horst Lang has disenchanted a little bit this magical forest at the end of the premier. He has showed it fully illuminated in order to describe the “Prague’s Black Theater Manner,” after which it was played in order to introduce the actors, who wore black tricots during the story and were for that reason almost invisible – who revive the animals, speak for them, and fulfill the manifold tasks. There was plenty of big well-deserved applause for all participants. The value of this kind of theater - for the active participants, as well as for the small and big audience – could not be praised highly enough, extremely charming example of how we can creatively play and work in a world.
Picture Peter Arnmbruster
Children play Black Theater
A fox wants to fly. It is the title of the new play from Horst and Olivia Lang who have produced it with children from the Basel Theater between 7 and 13 years old. This time they came up with a special idea, a play in the style of the Prague’s Black Theater. The children dressed up completely in black, play with play-dolls who are painted with phosphorescent paint. An UV-illumination shows on the stage only the setting and the dolls. This play is for children and adults a great enjoyment. The small actors play and talk on the stage very naturally, as if they were in the playground. It is only a pity that relatively few viewers came. The way to the Schützengraben 9 is really worth it. The performances are always on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays at 4 p.m.
Max and Moritz
By Wilhelm Busch from Horst Lang. Direction and scenery: Horst Lang. Costumes: Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim
Max and Moritz in children‘s theater.
Horst Lang recites Wilhelm Busch –children can join in talking. Basel. The children’s theater of Basel has been unfaithful for once; it doesn’t play a self written play from A to Z, but the story of Max and Moritz by Wilhelm Busch. The children will not perform the play alone; on the contrary, Horst Lang has taken the most
important part of the narrator and stands therefore the whole time on the stage. The seven tricks from Max and Moritz are well known to every child- but the audience does not always agree about the order. The staging of acts is set up by Horst Lang in such a way, that children in auditorium can join in talking. They can for example say what will come next, and it will come out who knows the story exactly and who knows the story only in a broad outline. The small instruction act is quite clever, in the second trick, Max and Moritz steal the roasted chicken from the widow Bolte. in order to reach the chicken, the two rascals will need a long stick which is in the corner. Who will hand it to them? A boy from the auditorium raises his hand spontaneously, - but the narrator points out several times that he will join in something bad. The ladybug story has been made very funny, but Horst Lang emphasizes the value of the statement that is not only about the bugs, but also about the almost unknown May bugs. The story of Wilhelm Busch is followed not only in a broad outline, but also in detail. The narrator recites exactly the verses of the great poet. When a small boy does not understand it, and thinks that it would have been funnier without those “stupid”verses, it is surely because the language of the poet sounds almost foreign for small children. The reaction is understandable, because Horst Lang speaks it according to good stage German language.The “actors” put an extreme effort to play their roles accordingly – where they also succeed. They speak Swiss-German by the way. A special achievement was made in the second performance by an actor- a child had an accident, and the other person had to take his role. He did this brilliantly. Especially pretty and practical was the set design, by simple actions the kitchen was transformed into a tailor-atelier and then into a bakery and so forth. The performance is impressive.
Crime scene Markusplatz
By Horst Lang, Direction and scenery: Horst Lang, Costumes: Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim.
(Revival played from the season 1976/77, then under the title “Bürli macht sich verdächtigt” “Bürli makes himself suspicious”. )
Markusplatz (Mark’s square) in children’s theater.
The new stage play Crime scene Markusplatz (Mark’s square) in children’s theater in Basel is quite thrilling and amusing. A grandmother vanishes exactly after a family row, and in the same night someone breaks in and steals a lot of jewelry. Is there a correlation? The police ask themselves the same question, especially the corporal, assisted by two police officers who are like when you imagine mean police officers. Until the case is finally cracked- or are those two cases?- a lot will still happen on the stage, and it will be quite turbulent. The best idea is however the fight, but why and how, should not be revealed here. You can receive the answer to this question every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon in the children’s theater in Basel.
The golden goose, Based on the motives of the Gebrüder Grimm by Horst Lang. Director: Horst and Olivia Lang-Scheim. Stage design: Horst Lang. Costumes: Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim.
<< The golden goose>>
The many small viewers who stream numerously in the children’s theater slide back and forth restlessly in their stools. They can hardly wait for it. But it is only 5 minutes to 8 and the performance begins at 8. The tension increases together with the noise level. One does not understands even his own word. Finally the light goes off. From one moment to the other, it is dead quiet. Finally! The curtain rises. The pantomime can
begin. Two boys sit on the stage at the kitchen table and perform tasks, while the mother washes the floor. The one boy has big troubles with arithmetic problems. He barely asked his brother for help and he insults him “You can’t do anything by yourself!”and the mother emphasizes: “Nothing, you can do absolutely nothing. It is always the same with you!” Pity for the poor, insulted boy who acts in the leading role in the play is visible among the audience. Even if he cannot calculate, his heart is on the right spot. And this is well known in fables, a feature that is generously rewarded. Horst and Olivia Lang, leader of the children’s theater in Basel, staged the new play together with 25 children. Some drops of sweat have been shed, until the roles have became familiar, everyone looked in the direction of the audience, the right requisites have been at the right time and the right place and the costumes along with thickly padded breasts and butts slip were resistant.Nevertheless, the spontaneity was still preserved for the children. Enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment during the play distinguish each one of the small actors.The pantomime was written by Horst Lang himself after the motive of Gebrüder Grimm. He has as well provided the superb –simple stage design for all four acts : Olivia Lang is responsible for makeup and the professional knotting of the breasts and butts. Now about the action. The mother sends her hardworking boy with a picnic basket to the woods to wood chop. In the middle of the dark woods, he meets an old woman who is hungry and asks him for food. But the heartless boy remains tough. He eats his bread rather alone. He injures himself during wood chopping and runs home crying. The mother sends away her worthless son. The same happens to him as previously happened to his brother. He however gives his whole bread to the old woman. The old woman gives him a golden goose as thanks, and advises him to take it into the wide world. He sadly hits the road. His golden goose is a magical animal. Whoever touches the golden poultry remains stuck to it. In this way, the row of sticking people is longer and longer, until they come before the gates of the big city. In the city, the king has called his people together. A serous disaster has taken over his empire. The princess has not laughed for 34 days and 4 hours! “Oh dear, oh dear” states the extremely hard working constable, who is constantly responsible for silence in the kingdom. One however, a single one can make the ill princess laugh again. It will not be revealed who this person is. The children’s theater of Basel is located on Schützengraben 7-9, direcly across from the fire station in Basel. Tel.: 25 2887, Picture Dorothea Salathe
Mr. Taschebier has worries, Based on the motives of the children’s book “ A week full of Saturdays” by Paul Maar, Director and stage design :Horst Lang. Costumes: Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim.
The man with the funny name Taschenbier could also be Mr. You-and I, in short Mr.(almost) named Everyone. He lives a life wedged in a self-created ..(?) imaginary (?)constrains, goes to the office, allows to be bullied by a ruthless slumber mother, wanders around on his free Saturdays… Every event that would give his life another direction is welcome. A seemingly small event: a small thing, neither human, fish nor bird, neither male nor female, sits at roadside. It must be “the Sams” Mr. Taschenbier concludes in very precise logic, because it is Saturday. Look there, it is true. With all the enthusiasm, that the brave man has guessed right his name, the Sams adopts him as Father and the theater begins. Because the Sams says what he thinks, takes literally the words spoken carelessly by the adults ,compromises constantly his adoptive father, takes over -steady, steady -his upbringing in his own hand, teaches him to live. All this happens in a certain jolly, sometimes almost cabaret way, because it is about a theater play which Horst Lang has produced with the children, the actors of the children’s theater of Basel. Mr.Taschenbier has worries, is the title of the almost unbelievable story in seven scenes after the motive of famous children’s book from Paul Maar, “A week full of Saturdays”. Mr. Taschenbier the man full of worries, has experienced on the weekend a glamorous premier, which demanded from the protagonist a brilliant performance. Although, the performance was played by children for people from the age of 5 years. I have rarely seen such attentive, amused adults as in this case. One understands what is meant, but despite this, one is not disgruntled. Yes, you have enough material for thinking about it on the way home.
Scene from the children’s theater: the small “Sams” and the big Mr. Taschenbier. Picture Peter Armbruster
Verzell kai mischt! By Horst Lang after the idea from Dunja Fink. Direction and scenery: Horst Lang,
Costumes:Maria Scheim. Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim. Children play theater “Verzell kai Mischt“ Picture Peter Armbruster
Children’s theater: A play about a poor royal house.
„Verzell kai Mischt“ is the name of the funny-grotesque fairy tale, whose premier was last Saturday night in the children’s theater of Basel am Schützengraben 7. The play was written by Horst Lang after the main idea of the playing actor Dunja Fink. Production and stage design Horst Lang, Costumes and make up Maria Scheim and Olivia Lang. Let’s say that the beginning is rather classically traditional. Well, not very traditional, a king sits in a purple armchair, who is so poor as a church mouse. It is the king Serge from Amselbart. His high born spouse, queen Simone is also broke. Princess Sabine, the daughter of the two plays in garden with their last possession, a golden ball. But soon she comes [illegible] sobbing and running very desperately, she throws herself over [illegible] allows herself to be shaken by mother and father, in order to finally confess, that she has thrown the golden ball, their very last possession, into the deep well. It is lost forever and ever. But this is all clouded in secrecy. The fact is that the royal family along with the servants has nothing to eat. Together, they look in a true democratic way for a way out of the misery, while their stomachs rumble loudly. The servant Fink tears from the king the back part of the purple coat, in order to sell it. However, the money is only enough for one day. Ha, what is a Prince for? The Price Daniel is loved, cheerful and beautiful to look at, but is however poor. But Prince John von Bäumlihof has the money. An intrigue is spines to fetch John to this place, - and yes, the thing is on its best way, hopefully nothing will
happen what has not happened before in a fairy tale. Dreadful for a theater director. With bang, and pop and noise….. And because this can be seen in every performance, always Wednesdays, Saturdays, and
Sundays at 4 p.m. you have to go in order to experience it! I can only say: Look what will happen to the golden ball, also with the modern art in the form of dirty napkin on the wall, or……Nothing but magic!
Verzell kai Mischt!
By Horst Lang after the idea from Dunja Fink, Direction and scenery: Horst Lang, Costumes:Maria Scheim.
Masks: Olivia Lang-Scheim. (Revival played from the season 1978/79)
The newest play of the children’s theater in Basel “Verzell kai mischt” is about a poor king, who together with his family freezes and starves in a bleak Palace. Weapon and pictures that have previously decorated the walls of the castle are barely recognizable as contours on the yellowed wallpapers. The last dress of the king is shredded and the gold backrest of the throne has already been sold. The princess is the last rescue. She should marry a rich prince; unfortunately, she does not love him, but another poor prince. ….Brilliant directional ideas and enthusiastically playing children fascinate the audience, and suddenly the troupe becomes mutinous. The actors refuse to play the end of this play in the same way as the author and producer Horst Lang intended in the textbook.Horst Lang enters the stage and tries to save the situation- in vain. Finally, the audience is involved, and at the end the play has not one, but multiple conclusions.
You can find out until June 6, which one would you and your children like the best, “Verzell kai Mischt!” is always on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4 p.m. in children’s theater at Schützengraben 9.