In the gloomy month of January, Sesame Street will bring some color, Richard Wagner provides the music, there's contemporary theater in Berlin and budding film talent in Saarbrücken.
Sesame Street comes to Berlin
Forty years ago, the arrival of Ernie, Bert and friends from Sesame Street revolutionized kids' television programming in Germany. The first episode of the American series was broadcast on January 8, 1973. The concept of the show, including the shabby looking Sesame Street with its cast of charming muppets and people of different races, was revolutionary for West Germans. Dramatic scenes were cut with short animation spots on themes like numbers and the alphabet.
A special exhibition at Berlin's Museum for Film and Television brings together the Sesame Street characters, with the giant furry Samson the Bear ready to greet visitors at the door. The insatiable blue Cookie Monster and bright pink Tiffy the Bird are also on hand. The exhibition includes interviews with the puppeteers and the makers from Jim Henderson's studio, as well as episodes from four decades of the hit show. Today, the German production of the show includes homegrown characters such as Finchen the Snail and Wool the Sheep. Just one or two short film clips from the American version are being screened at the exhibition, curator Gerlinde Waz said. Sesame Street has been taken to screens in 140 countries, including India, China, Israel and Afghanistan. The exhibition in Berlin runs through April 7, 2013.
Richard Wagner turns 200
January opens a year of celebrations marking the 200th birthday of the German composer, dramatist and conductor Richard Wagner (1813-1883). On the birthday itself, May 22, a concert will be held at the Bayreuth Festival Theater which was designed by Wagner himself. On January 6, the city of Bayreuth will kick off its anniversary program with a comedy piece by the ensemble Mnozil Brass. In Leipzig, the premiere of the "The Ring for Children," based on Wagner's most famous work, "The Ring of Nibelung," will open.
Greek gods get an update
"To stay or to go?" is what many young Greeks are currently asking themselves. Due to high unemployment and low wages, many young Greeks are attracted to the German labor market. This dilemma is thematized in the play "Telemachus - Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Based on current events, the story is embedded in ancient Greek mythology.
"Telemachus" will premiere at the Theater Ballhaus Naunynstrasse in Berlin on January 11. The young German-Greek directing duo Anestis Azas and Prodromos Tsinikoris have invited a series of protagonists of different generations who split their time between Germany and Greece. A large number of Greeks starting coming to West Germany in the 1960s and 70s as so-called "guest workers." The biographies and stories are bound with songs of the adventures of Odysseus and his son Telemachus.
Budding filmmakers take center stage
Fans of contemporary film are sure to flock to the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival in Saarbrücken from January 21-27. It's the most important film festival for emerging German-language films from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
This year, the author and film director Oskar Roehler is the guest of honor at the festival named after the director Max Ophüls (1902-1957). Roehler made his breakthrough with his film "No Place to Go" (2000), a highly personal portrait of his mother. Roehler is also well-known for his screen adaptation of Michel Houllebecq's novel, "Atomized."