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  M1SFF09: 3SOME [Preview and Reviews]
« on: January 13, 2009, 12:10:56 AM » by alvintck
M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 09


tara tan
arts reporter
A German, an Israeli and a Palestinian give a humourous take on the
strained relations among their people


Rub-a-dub-dub, a German and an Israeli Jew, armed with cellos, sit in
a tub.

So begins the physical theatre piece, 3some, which will be staged as
part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.

Using a mix of dialogue, dance and comedy, this multi-layered work
explores national identity and personal shame in the context of World
War II.

In the opening scene, German actor Knut Berger scrubs the back of Nir
de Volff, who is Jewish, in the bath tub. The sly irony clearly lies
in the reversal of roles since the Jews were Holocaust victims in
Hitler's Germany during the war.

Later, Berger races de Volff around the stage, pummelling him with an
inflatable rubber club, a la characters in a cartoon.

The hour-long show also features a duet between de Volff and
Palestinian dancer Sahara Abu Gosh, which explores the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. It will be staged at the Esplanade Theater
Studio on Sunday and Monday.

Speaking to Life! From his home in Berlin, de Volff, 34, says humour
can be a crucial tool to opening up minds.

"It is a very loaded piece, with many undercurrent themes and layers.
We don't self-censor or limit ourselves in the work. We don't think
about what is politically correct or unpolitically correct to say,"
says the Israel-born dancer.

He adds: "I see this piece as having a mission beyond its artistic
value. It carries a little message, which is all the more important
now in these turbulent times."

The tongue-in-cheek title, 3some, which refers to a menage a trois,
pokes fun at the strained relations among Germans, Israelis and

The piece will be especially topical given the current Israeli
offensive against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza.
More than 600 Palestinians are believed to have been killed since
Israel began its offensive 11 days ago.

Some of the themes in the work such as national shame about the
Holocaust and the private shame and blame that came after, were
inspired by emotions the artists experienced themselves.

"When I first came to Europe 10 years ago, I sometimes felt hesitant
introducing myself as an Israeli Jew as I didn't know how the Germans
might react. Knut experienced the same thing when he was visiting
Israel," says de Volff.

The artist is especially interested in audience reactions when the
show tours Israel and America later this year. There is a duet between
and Israeli man and a Palestinian woman adds de Volff, a collaboration
'which would never have happened in Israel'.

"I'm very curious. When we performed in Berlin, audiences, which
included Palestinians, were really enthusiastic and excited about the
work. For me, these are really important reactions," he says.

There was one time, however, when he felt aggression from an Arab who
was sitting in the front row in the audience.

"As part of the show, I was breaking chairs. A small piece fell near
him and he picked it up and threw it, hard, back at me. He left
abruptly towards the end of the show," recalls de Volff. "I would have
loved to talk to him, to find out why he felt so much aggression
against the performance. But I could not find him anywhere afterwards."

He believes that today's generation can and should talk about
historical events not just with seriousness but also with humour.

"We have had such great reactions from audiences who have seen the
show. They leave with a heavy-light feeling, and after laughing at the
grave matters in the show, they find it easier to talk about the issues.

"This openness is important. Being able to laugh about it lets people
find reactions to the past."


book it

Who: Knut Berger, Nir de Volff and Sahara Abu Gosh
Where: Esplanade Theatre Studio
When: Sunday and Monday, 8pm
Admission: $19 & $27 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

Photo Caption: Nir de Volff (left) and Knut Berger explore national identity
and private guilt.


LIFE! The Straits Times
Tuesday, January 13 2009
Page C8


3some pushes comedic boundaries, finding the funny in taboo topics

review | theatre

Knut Berger, Nir de Volff & Sahara Abu Gosh
Esplanade Theatre Studio, Sunday
tara tan

There was a collective ripple of disappointment when German performer 
Knut Berger ran onstage to apologies and say that Palestinian belly 
dancer Sahara Abu Gosh would not be performing that night.

The scenes between Israeli Nir de Volff and Abu Gosh had been highly 
anticipated, given the current Israeli offensive against the 
Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza.

Later, it was revealed that Abu Gosh had declined to be involved in 
the piece because she was uncomfortable about tackling strained 
Israeli-Palestinian relations.

There was a hard-hitting point made about missed opportunities to 
address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reconciliation. But it 
also set the stage for the main focus of this work, which was about 
the relationship between Germany and Israel after the Holocaust in 
World War II.

3some drew laughs, with its sly, tongue-in-cheek wit blended with 
slapstick tomfoolery and topped off with bittersweet poignancy.

The sight of two men crammed into a small bathtub, for instance, 
provided much fodder for crude humour. An example: Berger bent his 
head between de Volff's legs and joked about German chancellor Angela 
Merkel sleeping with former Israeli President Moshe Katsav.

Later, when Berger sprayed large dosages of air freshener into the 
air, leaving a huge cloudy mist hanging over the bathtub, it triggered 
images of the gas chambers Hitler had used to massacre thousands of 
Jews in the Holocaust.

3some pushed the boundaries of the audience's perception of what was 
acceptable comedic material. For instance, Israeli de Volff's redneck 
country ditty against Jews drew uncomfortable chuckles.

There were magical turns in this piece, which thrived on the 
unexpected. One was de Volff's tale about torturing and murdering a 
cat. “There are so many of them around, what does it matter?” he said 
with a shrug.

As the cat's meows morphed into a chilling siren, an ominous weight of 
macabre morbidity, of Man's frailty, of the unspeakable horrors of the 
Holocaust, descended on the audience.

There was plenty of meat for the picking in this layered work, 
although at times one wished they would slice closer to the bone.

3some, with delightful dexterity, digs under, surveys and picks up the 
wreckage that lie, exposed and untouched, after destruction and 


Picture Caption: Nir de Volff (right) and Knut Berger (far right) draw 
uncomfortable laughter with their digs at the Holocaust. PHOTO: 


Kenneth Kwok's Notes
Theatre Review: "3Some" by Knut Berger, Nir de Volff et. al.

It is difficult for me to write about "3Some" as a First Impression because while I want to encourage audiences to catch the second and final show on 12 January, I am limited as to what I can actually say about the work: what I loved most about this production were all the surprises and unexpected turns that I risk ruining by giving too much away. Suffice to say that this outlandish 55-minute production is bursting with ideas, especially in terms of the ridiculously surreal and comic, but underlying the frivolity of this German-Israeli-Palestinian work is a dark undercurrent that whorls with the black waters of human cruelty, guilt and shame. 3Some is rich with metaphors and meaning but stronger for these being so wildly open to interpretation... and misinterpretation. Never take a single moment for granted. Never assume for a second that you know where the show is going. Let the various short episodes that comprise the production take you on an ever-twisting journey of conflicting emotions; it is the play's most colourful and jubilant scene at the end of the show, for example, that brings together all that is sad and wrong in the world right now. A theatrical marvel. **** out of 5 stars.

Knut Berger (Germany), Nir de Volff / TOTAL BRUTAL (Israel) and Sahara Abu Gosh (Palestine)
11, 12 Jan: 8pm
Esplanade Theatre Studio

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« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 03:05:55 AM by alvintck »

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