word up, meine sehr geehrten damen und herren.
so i've arrived in stuttgart after finding out that there was nothing to be done with my work visa in berlin, as it is a provincial jurisdiction. it's a whole lot of hoops to jump through and i highly recommend being more organized than myself if anyone ever comes here to work. maybe that goes without saying, but you know, i'm new to this working abroad thing.
i was lectured in thick schwäbisch, told i should have known better, scolded, and threatened with deportation until the lady at the office decided i looked appropriately frightened and sorry and then she said she do something about it. so that's almost figured out.
stuttgart is absolutely no berlin. home to mercedes and porsche, it's one of the richest cities in deutschland. the rents here are absurd, the cars are fancy, the politics conservative, and even a döner is double the price here. a döner being a german invention in the rotating meat family, a close cousin of the schwarma. typical berlin street food, second only to the currywurst. (not to get into too much detail of the late-night-drunk gastronomy of berlin, but the currywurst is important to know. at some point someone in berlin had the idea to deep-fry a sausage two minutes too long, and top it with ketchup and curry powder. no joke. it's highly popular. and depending on how much beer one has had, reactions vary from skepticism to gluttony).
the real estate market here is ridiculous, and being a big university town, this is a bad time to look for cheap short-term accomodations. i believe i have found a room in a basement with no kitchen and a shared bathroom halfway up a mountain. and it's about $500 a month. so not so different from toronto, but in berlin you'd be living quite comfortably on that rent.
however, the fact that it's such a rich city has some advantages. the giant palace gardens are something of a central park here, and they're gorgeous. at the south end is the old palace, and right next to it, the theatre. it's rather impressive. the city is clean and safe and quiet, which has some advantages, but it lacks a certain spark. you know, those dirty holes in the wall where beer is less than a euro a bottle. speaking of beer, the city boasts a whole pile of breweries that on hot days like today smother the whole town with the smell of hops and malt.
i spoke to the dramaturg for die flucht today, and received a huge reading list of bulgakov's works to read (i've read a few of them). i will be helping prepare the dramaturgy for the production until rehearsals start in two weeks. which is nice, because i don't know anyone here and would like something to do. and since the nightlife is decidedly not my scene, some work would be nice.
i saw in on the open dress for a production of gorki's 'lower depths' this evening, directed by volker lösch and dramaturged by jörg bochow (former u of t prof). between them, they've cut 90% of gorki's text and replaced it with verbatim text from interviews conducted with stuttgarters about the financial crisis. gorki's play takes place in a depressing russian basement and is peopled by the dregs of society, the lowest of the low, so financial concerns are big, and in a city so dependent on the auto industry, the crisis hit here pretty hard. the set was a giant angela merkel billboard with a strip cut out over the eyes about eight feet high that is the only entrance or exit point. the physicality was astounding, these actors leaping and climbing through this hole (apparently the costumes are already getting destroyed by excessive sweat). and despite all the new text, the production very cleverly mirrors the relationships and figures that are in gorki's play. if soulpepper did this play it would probably take place in a russian basement in the early 20th century with people dressed like historical russians, with no regard paid to the contemporary relevancy of the piece. but this production is impressive, fast paced, political, relevant, and provocative. or was at least, until one of the actors got hit in the face with a purse and had to go to the hospital.
more to come.