Elisa Moolecherry: Bringing English theatre to Munich
Sabine Devins · 17 Mar 2010, 17:18
Published: 17 Mar 2010 17:18 GMT+01:00
It's a Thursday night and the small theatre in Munich is nearly full and people speak a mix of German and English while they wait for the lights to go down. The play, “My Zinc Bed,” finally starts and the cast of three Canadians commands the audience’s attention for the next 100 minutes.
Such scenes are now routine for Moolecherry, who is taking to the stage for the sixth production of her own theatre company BeMe. First established in Barcelona, BeMe relocated to Munich in 2007 to become the Bavarian capital’s first professional English-language theatre.
"Right from the first production (in Munich), I knew this was going to stick here," the Toronto native told The Local. "I think people here are really interested in the English language and, from what I understand, they seem a little starved for English theatre of a high quality."
Since moving to Europe, Moolecherry has made the transition from actor to artistic director and entrepreneur. She now offers regular productions for Anglophile Germans and theatre-starved expats with the help of her German husband Felix Leicher, who is also BeMe’s managing director.
For the first production, “I, Claudia,” Leicher and Moolecherry did very little in terms of marketing, but still managed to sell out two weeks of performances. And over the last year, Moolecherry said BeMe Theatre’s audience numbers have jumped by 50 percent.
After getting over her initial culture shock, Moolecherry has come to appreciate the kind of support the arts get in Germany and now considers Munich home.
“I think I would have given up a long time ago if I didn't have all these avenues of support, and because of them, now I can't give up,” she said. "We have a very, very loyal audience."
Part of that audience is Kamla Saltau, an Australian who has spent the last 10 years living in Munich. She has attended all of the BeMe productions to date.
"As an expat in a German-speaking country, I am grateful for the opportunity to see theatre in my own language. The BeMe Theatre really does a good job," she told The Local after seeing “My Zinc Bed.”
For Saltau and her friends, the treat isn't just the language, but the quality of actors and plays chosen by Moolecherry and Leicher to bring to the stage.
"It is a credit to the production company that after every play, my friends and I want to discuss what we've just seen," Saltau said.
And that’s just the kind of theatre Moolecherry strives to put on for her English-speaking and German crowds.
“I think that’s something that appeals to both German and English speakers," she said.
While she dedicates herself full time to the theatre, Leicher still keeps his day job as an architect. But they both hope that BeMe will not just expand and grow, but also find sponsors.
The Munich-based theatre is also making a name for itself back in her native Canada thanks to the talent it has brought over to perform the plays that have been mostly by Canadian playwrights.
"The opportunity to perform in other countries and to do a Canadian play in another country is a huge enticement," said Duane Murray, an actor from Toronto who performed in BeMe’s production “Problem Child.”
Murray said in particular the audiences would bring him back to Munich anytime.
"They were generous. It's as simple as that," he told The Local.
But as successful as the whole endeavour has been, Moolecherry admits BeMe is still a work in progress. She and Leicher hope to become more integrated in Munich's theatre community and move beyond its foreign repertoire.
"I don't want us to be known as the English-language theatre company,” she said. “I want us to be known as one of the theatre companies in Munich."
Performances of My Zinc Bed:
March 17 - 20, 23 - 27
Showtime: 8:30 pm
Matinees on March 19 and 25
Showtime: 11:00 am
Tickets €18, students €12
Groups of 10 or more €15 per person
Tel: 089-385 377-66