• Associate Sponsor

‘What can I do for the world? Maybe, somebody needs theatre’

Why German director Harald Fuhrmann keeps coming back to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala every year.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Updated: November 15, 2017 12:10 am
Harald Fuhrmann, Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, waiting for godot, dalai lama Harald Fuhrmann’s depiction of House of Bernarda Alba.

Harald Fuhrmann is being a tourist in Delhi in loose clothes and unruly hair, at the 17th century tomb of Khan-e-Khana in Nizamuddin, when the family preoccupation takes over. Fuhrmann’s young daughter starts performing pieces as part of an audition for child actors while her mother holds the camera. Fuhrmann sits on a bench under a tree and takes out his cellphone that has a picture of him with the Dalai Lama.

“His Holiness is saying that we need to make more drama to tell contemporary stories about the Tibetan people. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) needs a director and I said (to a German Tibetan aid organisation), ‘Wherever you need me, I just go’,” he says. Fuhrmann is a theatrical lecturer at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts, Berlin, as well as a prominent director whose idea of theatre is “to do something with reality”. He is also one of the artistes helping to internationalise TIPA’s arts programme.

For the past three years, Fuhrmann has been coming to Dharamsala to train students in techniques that involve observing people on the streets and then bringing it on stage. “The actor has to make decisions, such as ‘What story to tell today? Which parts to observe? Which part of reality to bring to the stage and from which angle to look at it?’ This is how we become responsible artistes and not mechanically do what the director wants,” says Fuhrmann.

Harald Fuhrmann (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Eleven years ago, he and 15 people such as actors, puppeteers, dancers, directors and set designers set up the Flying Fish theatre company, let out their apartments and packed their bags to travel through India and Nepal, performing at festivals such as Nandikar as well as on the streets, in villages and towns on the Himalayas. “My dream was to combine work, friendship and travel. What can I do for the world with my profession? Maybe, someone needs theatre,” says Fuhrmann, who has also taught in Iran, Oslo, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

He is the first artiste in his family, his father being an engineer and his mother a housewife. “I read a lot of Albert Camus, who talked about how you have to live in the moment and I felt very close to him. Then, I saw him in a film, sitting in a theatre and talking about theatre and I said, ‘Oh, he is doing theatre and I like him so much that maybe I should do theatre’,” says Fuhrmann.

He watched his first play in a tent in an alternative-living part of Berlin. The travelling group was performing a story about the environment and how to live by values rather than money. Fuhrmann has worked as an actor but directing is his signature. Waiting for Godot — which fit in his philosophy that “Life is short. Don’t wait for Godot, just do your thing” — and Goethe’s Faust, Part I, about a scholar who makes a wager with Mephistopheles, are among his repertoire.

TIPA voice training in the courtyard.

Last year, he wrote a play about beliefs after talking to people of different religions, titled Unruhe Im Paradies. His next is Faust II, considered so complex as to be nearly impossible. “Faust is building a dam because he feels that nature should not be stronger than human beings. Thousands of people work for years and, just at the end, Faust becomes old and blind. He thinks he is hearing people digging as they build the dam — at this moment he feels satisfied and dies — but in reality they are digging his grave,” says Fuhrmann.

Several productions have been set in concentration camps and it was during one of these that Fuhrmann found out that his “grandmother was Jewish but she never talked about it”. “Suddenly, I was no longer talking from the point of view of the perpetrator but also the victim,” he says, “When we are in school, German children are told about what was done to the Jews and the world. I retain a strong feeling that somethings like this should never happen again. In the Tibetan issue, the politics of the whole world comes together, about how we behave, what stories we are telling, on business and human rights.”

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App

  1. Shankar Shankar
    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:50 pm
    Few people fail to understand that there are many people who are more wise than themselves and capable of understanding economics. They also have an illusion that they are indispensable to the country and without them country can not move. Peter principles are perfectly matching here. People feel lucky when this type of politicians vanish rom politics after attaining the age of 65 years.
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. S
      Shibu
      Nov 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm
      Without any invitation ? harassing, ruining and selling his life in the name arts. Simply saying, don't want to interact with you people. go where people want to interact with or invite you. entering in someplace without invitation and start vomiting, trying to label him killer, depressed, indeed you first threaten him to throw him under bus. You are cheap greedy people. greedy for money / fame and can ruin their lifes, kill people, to have your looted money by harassing people. Scaring them, creating fear to work for you as slave. when indeed you don't know ABCD of finance and want a student of finance to work you as a slave. what you do ? you play such cheap politics. Cheap, greedy, theifs, Germans, ready to burn people alive, ready to ruin life, ready to throw people under bus, ready to sell their own families, ready to publish someone's video for their cheap looted profit, by making someone work like slave and than say coming to see performing arts. Don't want to show anything.
      (0)(0)
      Reply
      1. T
        thubten
        Nov 15, 2017 at 8:38 am
        interesting article
        (0)(0)
        Reply