German Theatregoers Gag at Shakespeare Gorefest
It is Shakespeare's most gory work, full of bodies and amputations. But a production of Titus Andronicus at the Berlin theatre made famous by Bertolt Brecht proved so stomach-churning for one German audience, they tried to storm the stage.
"You're getting off on it [the violence]," members of the audience shouted at the actors in protest at the graphic rape scene in which Titus's daughter, Lavinia, also has her hands chopped off and tongue ripped out.
As security guards pulled the protesters back, about 30 members of the audience walked out in protest at the German version of Shakespeare's tragedy, Die Schändung (Violation), written by the playwright Botho Strauss.
"We came very close to calling the police," Claus Peymann, artistic director of the Berliner Ensemble told the Guardian yesterday. "I haven't experienced anything like this since the 60s. The mood was one of war. People were shouting 'Nazi theatre'. Perhaps people were surprised that this kind of violence can take place live on stage."
Founded by Brecht in 1949, the Berliner Ensemble has maintained his tradition of provocative political theatre. The play also includes Shakespeare's famous pie scene, in which the wife of the Roman emperor eats her two sons. "Our version begins with Shakespeare's text, but then changes into a modern play," Peymann said. "We do have a pie, though."