Civil Courage in the Art

In the Opera Production “Against the Wall”, of the German Ludger Vollmer, the director had the “ingenious” idea of a symbolic “ritual slaughter” from a living sheep on the stages.

Clear! The real “ritual slaughter” could never be, according to the law it is forbidden, and the director said, he is informed!


Every evening, a sheep should lie on the stage with bound legs (for safety reasons) and then be pulled up with a stroke from the back legs of the desired scene.
It would burst an ampoule of “theater blood” on the floor to simulate the offering.

It looked harmless, but it was not.
I also participated in this production and I was very unhappy.

At that time, I decided to have a private conversation with the director.
I told him that the action would scare and terrify the animal, and with the loud music and the crowd of people on stage it would be (almost) torture. And that all every evening, in 15 scheduled theater performances.

 

He said he had discussed the whole thing with the management of the theater, and they were informed about the law, so … there was no problem for animal and theater. To intimidate me, he said that a member of the theater, a woman, had already ordered the sheep from her uncle’s farm.

He remained stubborn on his “brilliant” idea.
Me too.
“I’m warning you,” I said. “I have good connections to the animal rights scene, the thing will come to the press and then you can forget your production”!
“But I love animals, you know …” he said.
“If you love animals, let the scene go” was my answer.

I have contacted a well-known animal rights organization.
“That’s not possible, we cannot allow that” was the answer.

Until the summer break, he rehearsed the scene without the sheep.
He had now distanced himself from me, and our collaboration was purely formal, without emotion.
Then came the summer and we were all on vacation, the samples were canceled.

When we started rehearsing in September, the director called a General Assembly of the production team on the first day of work: “I am very sorry to inform you that the scene with the ‘ritual slaughter‘ can not take place. There are some reasons for that, but I will not go into that ” he said, glaring at me with hatred.
Some colleagues immediately turned their heads to my direction, others whispered and said nothing.

For me, it was one of the happiest day of my life.

After this incident the theater management announced that the theater will stop bringing live animals to the stage.
The theater did not keep this promise, and one year later it put on stage a living Swan for the opera “Lohengrin” by R. Wagner. In that case, I had organized a real spectacle, which has led to the fact, that the theater actually never brought back living animals on the stage; but I think I’ll tell that another time.

Conclusion from my 30 years of experience in the theater: art and animal welfare actually have little to do with each other.
Most artists see their job (on or off the stage) as a great service to society and firmly believe in the naïve idea that art can change the world, that art even has a political impact!!
But as far as animal rights are concerned, most artists see it as a strange “stage”, an “uncomfortable subject.”

And that is why most of them, when it comes to animals, act according to the mentality “Cosi fan tutti”!

Best regards to all

Venus

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