The Soldier's Tale

A played, danced and told poem

Performing in a Doll´s House

"(...) The stage and scenery seem to be made for a touring company: only very few properties decorate and equip the stage. Obviously, the company has set off for the tour with light luggage. Soldier and devil - both represented by life-size puppets - meet on a mobile platform. The dancers move the puppets and give life to them. The narrator Rolf Kindermann lends them his disguised voice, thus dragging the audience immediately into the story about the fool who has sold his soul to the devil without even being aware of it.
(...) The performance program quotes a passage from Kleist`s Über das Marionettentheater (About the puppet theatre) and describes the similarities between puppets and dancers. Goldin emphasizes this similarity and makes it come true during the performance: his ensemble moves the lifeless protagonists in a highly skilled way, with eloquent gestures and a very complex and expressive body language."

Stefan Hesbrüggen, Münstersche Zeitung, 26 May 1998

A Puppet´s Dance

"(...) Daniel Goldin, the artistic director of the Tanztheater Münster realized Strawinsky´s epic musical theatre rigorously and in a highly skilled way. The narrator, a serious but, nevertheless, enigmatic person with a diabolic face gets the musicians onto stage. After they have tuned their instruments the narrator sends for the ten dancers, who stumble onto the stage like marionettes pulled by strings. They carry with them a life-size puppet representing a soldier. The different artistic levels such as music, dance, narration and puppet show overlap, but they do never lose their originality. (...)Thanks to the narrator alias Rolf Kindermann the audience is fascinated and captured by the performance immediately. For almost 80 minutes Kindermann speaks all the dialogues by himself. His disguised voice is sometimes flattering, sometimes rumbling or even domineering. The tone of his voice changes from cynic to stupid, from shrill to tender. The puppets designed and built by Matthias Dietrich seem to be at least lively enough to let their eye sockets flash with death from time to time. Goldin´s Tanztheater finally translates the whole story into movements: The soldier is rich, so the dancers wave splendid banners. The soldier is at a king´s palace, so the dancers portray the burlesque life at court. The soldier has saved the princess, so two dancers glide through the ballroom like a happy couple. The soldier is lost, so the dancers keep crawling on the floor. This gestural interpretation of dance is undoubtedly the strength of the choreographer Daniel Goldin. (...)"

Ursula Pfennig, Westfälischer Anzeiger, 29 May 1998

The devil´s violinist seen from a different point of view

"(...) The adaptation of Strawinsky´s L´Histoire du Soldat choreographed by the Argentinean Daniel Goldin and presented by the Tanztheater Münster reflects the entire history of the reception of Strawinsky´s work. The scenery designed by Peter Kettner almost resembles a circus or a fairground: the orchestra consisting of Peter Schlamilch and the Ensemble of Contemporary Music of the municipal Symphonic Orchestra is transformed into Russian bondsmen by the costumes of Gaby Sogl and is placed left-hand side from the audience. On the opposite side, facing the orchestra, the spectator makes out a gallery which serves not only as platform for the narrator but also as set for the dancers. The stage is equipped with coat-stands and a mobile platform which with the help of interchangeable pictures marks the different settings of the performance. In order to show clearly the changes of place and time the director uses a red curtain and plays with it in a highly imaginative way.
The narrator Rolf Kindermann dressed in a dark red tail coat resembles a circus director and commands over the performance in an almost authoritarian way. Even the conductor of the orchestra follows Kindermann´s instructions and brings in the musicians only when he is told to do so. Kindermann as the narrator explains the plot of the story and, in addition to this, he several times gives life to some of the characters speaking with disguised voice. (...)
Goldin contrasts an almost lifesize dummy dressed like a soldier with a puppet twice as big representing the devil. Only during the fantastic scene when the two play cards their size is reduced to the size of glove puppets. With this interaction between dancers and actors on the one hand and puppets on the other hand Goldin manages to create an exciting, witty and cunning performance.
The artistic director Goldin connects two of the characteristic features of Strawinsky´s work - reading and acting - and uses the dialogues written by Ferdinand Ramuz in order to create a plot resembling the plot of a folk drama: colourful, simple, catchy. (...)
Without doing violence to Strawinsky´s work Goldin extends the production to a full-length performance of one and a half hours. Every moment of the performance is exciting, amusing and entertaining. It is a triumph of a simple but cunning multimedia music theatre and it is a success for the composer Strawinsky as well as the choreographer Goldin."

Jochen Schmidt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 July 1998

Hearing it catch its breath

"(...) Daniel Goldin realized the allegory of men fighting against the devil in a highly skilled and at the same time very reduced way. Concerning the latest production of his company put on stage at the Städtische Bühnen Münster Goldin has taken a fundamental decision which has moved his work closer to Strawinsky´s original concept: life-size puppets represent hero and villain and are manipulated by the ten dancers of the company. (...)
On the one hand the fact that Goldin uses puppets intensifies the effect of alienation, but on the other hand it also breathes life into the performance. When e.g. the soldier after returning to his home town recognizes that he has been fooled by the devil - instead of being away three days as the devil promised him he has been away three years, so that everybody considers him to be a ghost - he is paralysed with grief. At this moment we see close to his face another one: the face of his operator is nestling tenderly against the soldier´s face, and his hands are caressing and swaying the poor soldier gently. Suddenly this puppet, this helpless and motionless being moves us and fills us with pity and for an instant you even imagine to hear it catch its breath.
(...) The movements are very reduced. The soldier e.g. marks time over and over again and only small jumps or the doubling of speed create variation. Again and again the body collapses like an old scarecrow and again and again it stands to attention like a pulled-up marionette."

Tanzdrama Magazin No. 3/1998, September 1998

Goldin pulls the strings

"(...) At the end of the performance the soldier is ruined and defeated by the devil. The soldier has sold his soul - symbolized by a small violin - to the devil and, although the devil has promised the soldier to reward him generously the soldier finally loses everything he has actually longed for: his home, his fiancée and even the princess he has fallen in love with. Obviously, in modern times not even the fairy tales themselves believe in a happy ending. Goldin has created the role of a narrator, who performes and speaks the different characters with disguised voice. A puppet representing the soldier, another one representing the devil and a mobile platform, which marks the different settings of the performance with the help of interchangeable pictures, are almost the only properties on stage (scenery: Peter Kettner). Everything makes clear that the whole performance is nothing but a game. Not even the puppets are able to create the illusion of being alive. Only sometimes the dancers manage to give life to them.
(...) As Goldin allows the audience to get an insight into his work and makes them understand his intention and methods he manages to outwit people´s serenity and their modern aversion against believing in fairy tales."

Hanns Butterhof, Recklinghäuser Zeitung

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