November 17, 2007

The Prospector (El Paso, Texas) November 13, 2007

German Theater Abroad stops in El Paso

By Pink Rivera

Media Credit: Special to The Prospector

GTA Road Theatre is made up of five cast members from Europe and the U.S. They will perform their first show in El Paso at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Ramblin Gallery, 714 Montana Ave.In mid October, German Theater Abroad's Road Theater USA kicked off their biggest tour ever, covering 6,000 miles and 24 cities nationwide.

For the first time, El Paso is a stop on the troupe's tour and they will perform Roland Schimmelpfennig's play "Start Up" Thursday at the Ramblin Gallery.

GTA has traveled around the world for the past 11 years. American Theatre Magazine, said the group has become the "most important organ of German-U.S. theatrical exchange," performing contemporary plays written by globally recognized artists.

"Start Up" is a comedy specifically written for GTA, with a cast of five actors, three from Germany and two from the U.S. The group is touring with two Austrian video artists who record each performance. The group is traveling in a bus from New York to Los Angeles, hitting 16 states in seven weeks.

"They have sold out and received very good reviews from the Eastern states," Georgina Hernandez, co-founder of Fourth Wall Theatre Productions said. "I think us merging with GTA is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and the Ramblin Gallery is really excited to have this German performance."

Fourth Wall Theatre Productions, which this summer staged a production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," is promoting the troupe's El Paso performance.

Hernandez said this year GTA changed their normal tour circuit, allowing them to perform in cities where they have never been and El Paso made the list.

"Start Up's" author, Schimmelpfennig is one of Germany's most renowned playwrights. At only 35, he has been featured on the playbills of the most prominent international theaters from Hamburg to Paris.

The play deals with U.S. and German stereotypes, pioneer romanticism and cinematic myths while portraying the culture clashes in a small U.S. town.

Young Germans Rob and Micha are played by Nils Nellessen, who trained as an actor in Potsdam, Babelsberg and Nicolai Tegeler, a native of Berlin. In the play, the duo tries to find fortune as they journey to the West with a business idea, selling cultural imports from old Europe.

They make business plans and negotiations with real estate owner, Ike, played by American Roland Sands. Ike, however, already has priorities of his own. His daughter Liz, played by Myxolydia Tyler, a 2005 graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium MFA program and Rob's girlfriend, Kati, played by Lisa-Marie Janke, who completed her acting training at the Westphalia Acting School Bochum in 2001, fill the play's female roles.

"I think a play like this will bring more audience toward the arts and, with that, an interest in the city's arts in general," freshman theater arts major Nick Balcazar said. "I am interested to see this play and I would love to join because it combines my two interests of acting and traveling.

The actors for the production were professionally cast in Berlin.

The video recordings of the tour are used in performances, showing how the actors interacted with people from other cities.

Hernandez said, by the time the production reaches Los Angeles, other cities will have seen the El Paso segment of the video.

"We're really excited about performing in El Paso because it's a border city," said Daniel Brunet, translator, associate director and associate producer for GTA. "It's going to be exciting visiting Juárez over the border to see what's going on. The performance is still transposed, which makes it very special because of the flexibility for each specific city, letting us know how much the translation makes a difference."

"Start Up" will premiere at 8 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Ramblin Gallery, 714 Montana Ave. Pre-sale tickets are $5 or $7 at the door.

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