Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players

Britta Huegel

Today I got a letter from a class-mate I haven't seen for - um, well... let's say: for a very, very  long time. To be accurate (haha): since our A levels.
She sent me this photograph - guess who of the four beauties I am in this Oscar-winning play?
Oh - you only guessed because I was tall even then - here stooping because I was insulted by that old bickering witch  decent housewife with the unbecoming headscarf - and you'll never guess what I was accused of...  
I played a lot in amateur theatre - and I liked it so immensely that I wanted to become an actress.
I may have told you before that the theatre of Wilhelmshaven (I lived in Bremen) offered me to play there - I repeat it, because I'm still a little bit cross at my parents, who received the letter with the the offer and didn't show it to me, of course as always meaning well for me - they suggested I should study something sensible.
Well, nowadays I see that maybe they were right (though I would have preferred to decide myself). Thinking of most of the other parts I played, they always showed a lot of leg, I was often wearing chic hats, and had to look vain (evidently the 'stage directors' didn't recognize my inner beauty). With that haircut - I thought - I could have run through Paris, "Out of Breath" together with Jean Paul Belmondo! (I  often tended more to Modesty Blaise than modesty. Glad to have outgrown that).
Later my employer, the Federal Employment Agency in Nürnberg, discovered my hidden talents and I acted in two films ("Counselling in Groups" and "Data Protection" - not very glamourous, I fear - though even then I tried my very best).
We have some actors among our friends, and I see that their life isn't always easy. But - and that is oh so important (to me, at least): it is very exciting, always. (You won't chorus my parents' song now, don't you - I know it - by heart).
Growing wiser (my best running gag, I know) I see the global play:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143 
 

21 comments:

  1. Oh, my gosh, Britta! What a fantastic photo. The entire composition is centered on your loveliness. I knew that was you!

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    1. Dear Suze,
      I had forgotten about this photo and was so surprised when the school mate (who was not at the class reunion) kindly sent it to me. Nice that you recognised me (that is not granted on a reunion - a very delicate boy had changed so much - well - though I have a good memory of persons, I had difficulties to remember who he was, but of course hid them)

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  2. You are still beautiful, as I am sure your bickering friends still tell you.

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    1. Thank you, Tom - they might (!) mumble it "aside" (or how is that called it in English in the stage direction?) The ones with the headscarves mumble at least.

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  3. Delightful photo! Theatre folk among family here, and yes they travel too much to keep working! Such dedication. If one learns roles in youth that help get through jobs, expectations, difficulties, or simply to assert oneself, the early school plays are very valuable.

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    1. Thank you, Geo. Interesting that you have actors among your family. I loved school, and I'm still wondering whether the photo is from "The Playboy of the Western World" (we ha a very ambitious English teacher), but we also had other plays in Russian, French and German.

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  4. Britta - you are centre stage - all eyes turn to you. What a lovely reminder of your younger days.

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    1. Dear Rosemary - it was fun. Learning how to speak - and making an appearance - was valuable for older days too, as Geo. remarked so rightly.

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  5. You were meant for the stage, Britta. There is a world of expression on that face of yours, the younger as well as the mature one. And Shakespeare was quite right. A name on a marquee or program is nothing compared to the mark one makes in an ordinary life that one makes extraordinary.

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    1. Dear Walk2write,
      that is very kind of you to say. When I (an occupational advisor!) think about what really thrills me if I could choose - there always remains acting, writing and drawing. Must have been born for the 'job' of a Geisha :-)
      I love your remark about Shakespeare's quote - there is a lot to do outside the spotlight.

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  6. Britta... What fun! School plays were always so memorable. Your friend was so kind to send the photo. The best intentions of parents are often at odds with our younger idealistic self! Just think, one day in your retirement, you can recapture that love of acting through community theatre. Am sure you would be extraordinary!

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    1. Dear Susan,
      I thought it very kind of the class mate to give it to me (last time I saw her was at school. I have 4 very good friends from that time whom I see more than once a year). And your idea is almost the same that I had: I don't know whether here are lay actors playgroups - but we have the Babelsberg Filmstudios in Potsdam - and they are always looking for background-actors. Husband laughed a lot when I told him what I might intend when I am Wfree" - he doesn't see me in the background. :-) But I think: better small than nothing.

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  7. What fun! I'm sure that the thespian spirit is well and alive in you!
    I loved to act when I was in school, but never imagined myself as an actress. One of my sisters, though, persevered and became an actor - the first time I saw her on screen was in a German/Canadian collaboration from the 80's, Die Kriege.

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    1. Dear Pondside,
      Wow! I would like to see a film with your sister! Stamina and perseverance are absolutely necessary on the way to success. I'm impressed.

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  8. WOW Brigitta ….. what a wonderful photograph ….. you looked beautiful then and you look as beautiful now. I was always in the school play and often got the plum parts although, I wouldn't have said that I was particularly good at acting ….. must have been something to do with that casting couch !!!! haha
    Many thanks for birthday wishes ….. I'll be having a few drinks with my family later !!
    Have a lovely weekend Brig. XXXX

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  9. Dear Jaquie.
    thank you! Hope you had a fine birthday party - cheers to you, I'll raise a glass of champagne to you, your health and your beautiful look! (Whenever I doubt that for me, I hear Johnathan Spottiswoode's 'Beautiful Monday' and am convinced again, when he sings 'Have another look at me/ I'm beautiful!" That is the true spirit!)

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    1. Sorry, names: of course Jackie! And I like Brig, though almost everybody calls me Britta.

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  10. Hello, and thank you. I like reading old memories; they're the stuff we're made of.

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  11. I picked you out of the photo immediately, and it had nothing to do with height. Your face has a pure luminescent beauty... both then and now.

    I used to enjoy acting when I was in school, too. The drama coach would never let me play any juicy bitch roles, though. He said I was destined to always play the ingenue. (Phooey on him!) The only exception was a vignette scene he let me play from "Tea and Sympathy". Looking back, it was an odd choice, especially since it was for our school's Open House. I played an older woman who was about to sleep with a young man. As she oh-so-slowly unbuttons her blouse, she says, "Years from now, when you remember this... and you will... be kind." That was supposed to be it. Lights dimmed. Applause, applause. BUT the boy who was running the lights thought it'd be a hoot to mess with me, so he left the lights ON. Oh yeah, reeeeeeal funny.

    Is there a community theater group in your town? It's never too late, you know.

    Happy weekend!

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  12. Dear Susan,
    thank you! Your role in "Tea and Sympathy" sounds quite hot - though the light-technician-boy was outrageous... But you are clever and quick - I am absolutely convinced that you saved the situation! Though, "years from then, you still remember it"... and that 'funny' guy.
    Following up your recommendation of amateur theatres, I tried to look them up - I found 66 regular 'real' profi- theatres (not counting musical theatres, opera, dance, cabaret etc) - and lots and lots of amateur things, wildly strewn over the city - not surprising, as Berlin with its more than 3 and a half million inhabitants was always the metropolis of theatre in Germany, so the laymen wanted it too.
    By the way: today started the 'Berlinale' - just missed Tilda Swinton, but George Clooney will heal that :-) So I will be on the look-out (for amateur theatres, not him)

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