Asphalt Festival is an art festival in Düsseldorf, taking place once a year in the summer. It perfectly fills the void created by theaters going on summer break.
Asphalt offers a wide variety of performances consisting of theater, music, dance et cetera. I had seen several performances in previous years, though this year the three I saw seemed particularly excellent.
Maxim Gorki Theater: “Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen” & “Und dann kam Mirna”
These two performances by the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin based on plays by Sibylle Berg were extremely entertaining. I find it hard to say exactly what it was that made it so. Maybe it was just a good balance of various elements I particularly like in a play: simple stage setting, small cast in ridiculous outfits, mostly spoken word, sometimes grandiloquent, with a few songs and dance routines thrown into the mix.
Theaterkolletiv Per.Vers: “Düsseldorf Sous-Terrain”
As an audience member, one took on the role of an investor being driven around the city in this old-timer bus to see the various projects that a fictional development firm was working on to improve the city.
During the bus trip, refreshments were offered.
At various points in the city, the bus stopped so one could watch performers on the street. The funniest part was watching the reactions of passers-by who saw the performers, wondering what they were doing, unaware of the audience on the bus.
Eventually we were shown the recently built “Le Flair” neighborhood consisting of up-scale buildings in an area where many freight depots used to be. Representatives of the fictional development praised (in song) the many luxuries this neighborhood had to offer. Immediately thereafter we were taken just few hundred meters further where there were still tracks, tunnels and other remnants of the railroad connecting the freight depots. It was in these tunnels, that we met Jörg, who told us how after a series of unfortunate events in his life he was now living here.
It wasn’t revealed whether he was a cast member or whether he was actually living down there, but nonetheless it makes you think about how chance through one having good or bad fortune decides whether you end up living in an expensive high-rise apartment building or in a railroad-tunnel one block down the street.