Berlin Alexanderplatz by Das Helmi and Theater RambaZamba, for the No-Limits Festival at Ballhaus Ost
Director: Solène Garnier
Design: Daniela Petrozzi
Puppets: Florian Loycke
No Limits is an international theatre festival that has been running since 2005, in which over 200 performers of all abilities take part. It ran for 10 days this month at several locations in Berlin, and I managed to catch one of the last events, a joint production with Das Helmi Puppet Theatre and Theater RambaZamba, with texts written by Ohrenkuss, a newspaper written by individuals with Down’s Syndrome.
Every audience member was given their own foam puppet and assigned to one of 4 groups, and then each group was taken into the performance by a tour guide and led to their first viewing point. The cardboard town sprawled across the auditorium, populated by actors, mostly with Down’s Syndrome, manipulating puppets of all shapes and sizes. Following a narrator on a microphone, the day in the life of the city slowly began to evolve.
It was a real pity that the audience wasn’t free to move around the city, exploring and choosing for themselves which scenes to watch and interacting using the puppets they had been given. Instead, we were stranded on our viewing platforms, and the action often wasn’t visible from our angle. Still, there was a moment when something didn’t go quite to plan, and in the spontaneity and naturalness of the actors’ reactions I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I really had stumbled upon a parallel universe populated by foam puppets in cardboard houses.