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Outrage at pee on the stage in Dutch Wagner drama

Stage nudity no longer shocks, but when a naked actor emptied her bladder in an Amsterdam performance of Nietzche, Wagner: Tragedy of a Friendship, members of the audience started walking out and a debate has begun on the limits of director freedom. First report here (in Dutch).


photo (c) Wonge Bergmann/Holland Festival

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  1. José Bergher says:

    When a guy has to go, he has to go. But perhaps the producer ought to place a portable toilet on stage. It should not be too expensive.

    • I seem to recall the ENO catering for such emergencies several years ago.

      Can’t remember the production – didn’t go.

    • richardcarlisle says:

      Female not male, Jose… this was apparently in the script rather than actual necessity– looks like a stepping stone in the direction of staged sex orgies… a grand new age of decadence?

      • José Bergher says:

        Well, Richard, when a man or a woman has to go, he or she has to go, whether on or off stage. Human rights must be respected no matter the circumstances.

  2. Abigail Clifford says:

    Are you taking the p… Norman?

  3. itrinkkeinwein says:

    Old news! Munich, 2008, Verdi’s “Macbeth” — onstage urination en masse!


    And this is the production in which Anna Netrebko will sing her first Lady Macbeth in 2014.

  4. Jan van Dooren says:

    Please have the Dutch article translated before you post things. One lady left the auditorium. The review is, although cynical, positive in general. OUTRAGE….. Don’t think so.

  5. paul myers says:

    I recommend that you re-read Lorin Maazel’s comments on opera production.
    Having produced choral, opera and orchestral records by him in London, Paris and Cleveland, my experience of the conductor that critics love to hate has been one of great admiration. He can be ‘eccentric’ (thank God!) from time to time, but he is a master musician also blessed with a photographic memory. I witnessed this when Washington Opera sent for him in a private plane (fortunately he had his white tie and tails in the office) and he walked into the pit with about five minutes to spare. He asked if there were any cuts (Nabucco), then conducted the whole evening without a score. Asked how long it had been since his last performance, he replied: “About ten years”!
    I am also sorry for your correspondent who can tell, from his stance in front of an orchestra, how “arrogant” (or some such word) he can be. It’s a good thing he never saw Richard Strauss, who reportedly conducted everything with his left-hand thumb firmly tucked into his braces! I should perhaps add that Stokowski said that all a conductor needed was his eyes and his hands.

  6. robcat2075 says:

    How do you do that reliably on cue in a theatrical production? It takes me a long time to get going if someone is just standing next to me in the men’s room.

  7. I find Google’s computer translation of the last three sentences of the review hilarious in this context!

    Original (Dutch): Ik kon nog weg. Ik ging toch. Ik zat op rij drie, precies in het midden.
    Google Translate: “I could have gone. I went anyway. I sat on row three, right in the middle.”

    (in English, “to go” has a special meaning here…)


  8. This type of theatre is ‘gefundenes Fressen’ for the Dutch ‘cultural elite’… The puerile attempt to shock ‘the bourgeois’ who, nonetheless, are paying for these things through the tax system, and arriving in the form of cultural subsidy. It cannot be bad, stupid and primitive enough to get your art subsidies, and Dutch audiences don’t protest – they are too happy to let themselves be shocked, so that they can feel uplifted and modernized. What next? Real killing on stage?

    People like Fabre think that transgressing boundaries must inevitably result in Great Art, since history shows that Great Art transgressed existing boundaries. It is an immature idea, uncooked, undigested, and made ‘respectable’ through the oldfashioned ideas of sixties modernism, which was embraced enthusiastically in Holland because it provided ‘artists’ with the long-awaited liberation from artistic quality.

  9. Alex Benjamin says:

    Gérard Depardieu?

  10. Nothing new here – Jane Horrocks as Lady Macbeth at the Greenwich Theatre in1995, Anna Steiger in Nigel Osborne’s ‘The Electrification of the Soviet Union’ at Glyndebourne in 1987. I was present at both and in the latter case accompanying the action with a viola solo! (microtonal and sul ponticello).

  11. Sarah Johnson says:

    Perhaps the director wants to make a point about female urinary stress incontinence which affects over one third of women…

    • richardcarlisle says:

      Perhaps all future plays will include at least one brief female urinary episode to make sure as many people are aware of the epidemic as possible.

  12. It all symbolizes mother earth and nature…the watering of the fields. So stupid. Worse than Biexto. A grosse Schande. Takes the theater out of Regie.

  13. Yes! Yes! Yes! This what we want our taxes to support and our educators to present to our children as true examples of what the classics are all about and why we they need our continued support. Yes!

    • richardcarlisle says:

      And why not include men in this new elite trend– may I suggest a fart-tuba duet … silence of urination must be expanded to something more resonant for men.

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