The new "Peer Gynt" by Karl Alfred Schreiner

By Jeannette Andersen 05/12/2023
The new "Peer Gynt" by Karl Alfred Schreiner
Gärtnerplatztheater ballet in "Peer Gynt" by Schreiner

MUNICH - Karl Alfred Schreiner is a choreographer and the director of the Gärtnerplatztheater ballet in Munich. His latest piece Peer Gynt which premiered in November, he based on Henrik Ibsen’s drama of the same name from 1867. It tells the story of Peer Gynt, a reckless liar and cheater, who at the end of his life is confronted not by God or the devil, but the Button - Molder. He tells Peer that he is neither suited for heaven nor for hell. He is just an average person without any self. The Button - Molder wants to put him into a big pot with all the other average people, melt him and hopefully turn him into a new and more unique person, unless Peer can prove his uniqueness.
This complicated story Schreiner brings to life in a mix of jazzy dance and theatre. The Button - Molder, played by the actor Erwin Windegger, recites fragments from the text, to which Peer mutely responds with dance. They move in a setting partly created with video sequences suggestive of Peer’s native Norwegian village, mountain landscapes and breaking seas that seem to spill into the auditorium. They are brilliantly done by Heiko Pfützner, Christian Gasteiger and Raphael Kurig. Combined with Edward Grieg’s romantic and emotionally evocative music, which he composed especially for Ibsen’s drama, Schreiner creates a dream-like atmosphere in which dream and reality mix into an indistinguishable blur.
The ballet begins the moment Peer encounters the Button - Molder. Then it moves back in time telling Peer’s story, often with the old Peer looking at his younger self dancing. While the villagers celebrate a wedding with folk-like dancing in his Norwegian home village, Peer runs away with the bride. In front of a waterfall, they spend the night, after which Peer, to her dismay, abandons her. Their emotional turbulence is underscored by the set, which makes them look as if they are caught and whirled around in an avalanche.
On his further travels he meets the troll king’s daughter and enter their fantasy realm. Then he returns to his mother’s deathbed, goes on to Morocco where he meets Anitra, who takes all his money. In a spectacular scene Anitra and two other women, clad in silver-colored sequin dresses, dance a music hall number to Grieg’s music. It is a true clash of different worlds. After a shipwreck scene, where Peer kills a man in order to survive, he finally arrives home. He goes to Solveig, whom he met before he abducted the bride, and who has loved him ever since. Her true love gives Peer his identity and the Button-Molder leaves. Despite some scenes with less inspired choreography, the performance is delightful and very entertaining.

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