Chämaleon Theatre in Berlin:
I flew to Berlin for a fleeting 24-hour visit with a group of bloggers and theatre reviewers, primarily to go to The Chämaleon Theatre to see their current show Underart, but was lucky enough, in our fully packed program to enjoy a host of other activities along the way.
We arrived at Scandic Hotel in the central area of Potsdamer Platz, which is perfectly situated for exploring Berlin, and very close to the subway station.
The hotel has a strong Scandinavian style, with a welcoming atmosphere with a real sense of space. Their philosophy is to promote sustainability and accessibility for all.
My ‘Superior room’ was supplied with a free mini bar, and was well equipped and attractively decorated. And importantly the bed was divinely comfortable. Breakfast provided a fantastic array of delicious options, which even had a separate bar of those with allergies; I would definitely bring my children here, as it was also very family friendly.
The Chämaleon Theatre – UNDERART, Ode to Crash Landing
The Chämaleon Theatre is set in one of the stunning courtyards in the Hackesche Höfe area in the heart of Berlin in a beautiful, historic building, which was built in 1902. The buzzing district is surrounded by wonderful street art; cool bars, restaurants and clubs, and is a perfect place to spend an evening in this fabulous city.
The Chämaleon Theatre – UNDERART, Ode to Crash Landing
The Chämaleon Theatre Berlin is set in one of the stunning courtyards in the Hackesche Höfe area in the heart of Berlin in a beautiful, historic building, which was built in 1902. The buzzing district is surrounded by wonderful street art; cool bars, restaurants and clubs, and is a perfect place to spend an evening in this fabulous city.
However this was no ordinary evening, I had been invited with a group of fellow theatre reviewers and bloggers from both the UK and Germany to visit The Chämaleon Theatre and experience first hand what they have to offer. We started the evening with drinks on the balcony, overlooking the stunning ballroom; where we were able see the theatre in all its glory, meeting with the creative team to find out all about this extraordinary theatre. Since 2004 The Chämaleon Theatre have dedicated themselves to the art of contemporary circus, bringing to Berlin innovative circus productions, seeking to defy conventions and challenge expectation from all over the world. Their conceptual approach blurs the boundaries between different genres, such as acrobatics, dance, music and theatre, creating an exciting form of new circus in an environment where you are able to share this exciting and intimate experience.
In a six-month residency at the moment are one of the most popular New Circus companies in Scandinavia, a Swedish company called Cirkus Cirkör with their show UNDERART, Ode to Crash Landing. This show is a tribute performance to director Ollie Standber’s tragic accident, which happened at the tender age of 21, when he fell during rehearsal and broke his neck, and was paralysed from the neck down on the spot. This was 11 years ago; he now has made an extraordinary recovery and is working as the director and creative manager of Cirkus Cirkör. He says, “UNDERART is a memorial performance dedicated to the crash, the reference point of my life. It’s about the forces that are set in motion by a crash, and about the forces that make us get up again”.
As the show was about to begin, we were seated in the ambient ballroom, around small tables, in the tradition of variety from the 1920s, and we were served with drinks and food, in the friendly theatre atmosphere.
A company of seven performers, including musicians one by one took the stage and so the show begins. Music, a monologue, dance and fluid acrobatics, so elegant and effortless it took my breath away. I am a huge fan of physical theatre and this troupe of talented performers inspired by their own and one another’s crash landings push physicality to its limits and create a world suspended in time, far away from one’s daily life, in a journey full of risk and invention.
The inventive, and at times beautiful music is composed and performed by Ripple and Murmur consisting of Anna Ahnlund and Andreas Tengblad, they add a huge dimension to this show, changing their instruments and reflecting the mood and excitement at every juncture.
Each artist brings their own individual talents to the piece, I was amazed by the extraordinarily supple Mathinee, who bends in half, twists in incredible ways and can move like a crab, a contortionist who has combined dance and acrobatics to create with her own unique body language. Iris Pelz was as astoundingly graceful and agile, falling from huge heights with such effortless, smooth elegance and poise. Christopher Sclunk, a German artist struck me with his strength and humour. Matias Salmenadho amazed with his juggling, and Alexander Dam beautifully incorporates dance and acrobatics.
The finale was nothing short of astounding as the artists performed headstands in large fish bowls full of water, holding their positions for an uncomfortably long time, leaving the audience amazed and in a sense of awe.
This was a performance of considerable virtuosity; the sense of trust and sensitivity between the artists was palpable, with such a tenderness of communication, which flowed between dance and acrobatics. The company cleverly delivered it with certain nonchalance and humour, enabling the audience to enter and witness the weird and wonderful world they were creating with their bodies and minds, the faultless feats of strength and agility, pushing boundaries to the hilt.
I was blown away by this wonderful show, it’s certain to be a night in Berlin I will remember for along time to come.
After experiencing the wonders of the Underart at The CHAMÄLEON Theatre, we were taken on a fabulous night walk and tour through the streets of Berlin, and given a wonderful sense of the city, inviting us to discover the wealth of its culture and history.
Having walked together through the monumental Brandenburg Gate into the Western part of Berlin, we arrived at the Reichstag Building, which after German reunification in 1990, famously underwent a reconstruction led by architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.
Unsurprisingly we had to pass through tough security before taking the lift to the top and floor entering the glass dome where we were able to step outside onto the terrace and take in the amazing view over the city at night.
The Käfer Dachgarten restaurant has a wonderful covered garden area, with a magnificent view over Berlin, where we were served a sumptuous three-course dinner served with a selection of wines.
We started with a delicious pumpkin soup with roasted sunflower seeds, followed by a tender Saddle of beef with Caesar crust, served with creamy savoy cabbage, a carrot terrine with a divine potato-hazelnut-puree and Dijon mustard sauce.
Finally when I thought I couldn’t eat another thing eat another thing, we were presented with a beautiful Valrhona chocolate & Williams pear, melt in the mouth chocolate mousse, pyramid cake with pear sorbet with rose-hip jelly.
This glorious meal perfectly finished off a magnificent evening. I was now well and truly ready to jump in a taxi back to the comfort of my room at the Scandic Hotel for a restful nights sleep before setting off back to London the next day.
I am very grateful to The Chämaleon Theatre, Scandi Hotels and the Käfer Dachgarten Restaurant for making my stay in Berlin such a perfect one, I only hope my next visit is for a bit longer so I can further explore this great city and take in its wealth of culture.
in den Hackeschen Höfen Rosenthaler Straße 40/41
030-4000 590 firstname.lastname@example.org
Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
Gabriele Tergit Promenade 19, Berlin, BE, 10963, Germany,
0203 564 5996
The Käfer Dachgarten restaurant
im Deutschen Bundestag
Platz der Republik
Tel. (+49) (0)30-22 62 99-0
Fax (+49) (0)30-22 62 99-43