Photo taken during a performance of "Secondhand-Zeit. Das Ende des roten Menschen." (Musikbrauerei, Berlin, 30 April 2022)

What I don’t know of war I never want to know. Yet …

Musikbrauerbrei, Berlin. 30 April 2022. 

Last night, the Boy and I attended the final performance of Secondhand-Zeit. Das Ende des roten Menschen. at the Musikbrauerei (@musikbrauereiberlin). The venue itself is “so Berlin,” a masterpiece of reclaimed space – hard to imagine from the outside that the seeming ruins of the building could, inside, hold rooms of such visual and auditory wonder. 

Unlike the static shows I’d seen there previously, the artists generously used the venue’s diverse rooms for the distinct narratives of the play, moving the audience up and down stairs and from room to room to reach each act. (There was a warning on the ticket sales page in that regard. Participants needed easy mobility ability, warm clothing, and firm shoes to “enjoy” this performance.)

“Enjoy” is in quotes for good reason. The play is based on the book Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, written by Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel-Prize-winning Belarusian journalist and historian. Each act illuminated the violence of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, raising the voices of the traumatized persons, men, women, and children of war and political oppression. (My German is now good enough to hear and understand each of the stories of this play. Victory?)

No, I didn’t spend the evening with the iPhone camera in front of my eye. I grabbed quick snaps in each room as we were moved into seats or standing positions for the new act. 

Bonus reading material: Michael Scott Moore has an analysis on the prescience and relevance of Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik, a title that, coincidentally, my book group read back in 2011, when the English translation was published.

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