Our latest performance “The Puppet Master” tells the story of “Guenther”, a German Puppeteer who moved to Iceland 40 years ago in an attempt to escape the legacy of his family, society, and German heritage, but it proves difficult for him to flee his own shadow.
Guenther lives now in self-inflicted isolation among his puppet creation in the refuge of his workshop. He is working on a special winged puppet which he believes to be his way to freedom. If only he could make this puppet fly, … but the ghosts of his past keep haunting and distracting him.
This performance was 15 years in the making from its original conception to the premiere.
“The truth brings freedom” teaches a well known German proverb, but the truth does not come easy when mirrored by the horrific events of war or the homophobic notions of Nazi Germany or a Catholic ideology. “Nothing has more psychological impact on a child than the secret life of the parents”, wrote C.F. Jung the father of Psychoanalysis, and Scientific research has revealed that the traumas of Holocaust survivors are often genetically transferred to the next generation.
When I left my country of birth almost 40 years ago I did not realize yet that this “German backpack” would follow me where ever I would go. I spend a good thirty years unpacking what lay oftentimes completely hidden in some secret compartment.
Now my parents have left to a hopefully more peaceful place. They were among the last of a merciless wounded generation that experienced horrors beyond our imagination. Trauma response, time for healing was not a priority in the struggling years of post-war Germany. Families were destroyed, homes were bombed to rubble and the economic circumstances became a matter of pure survival. On top of all that lingered a cloud of guilt and shame that maybe was not lifted until a new generation of young Germans had no more inhibitions to wave the German flag during soccer tournaments.
I still slightly cringe even when Icelandic soccer fans unite in the euphoria of the “Viking clap”. Yes, I can join in and have fun with it, but a small part remains uncomfortable. Be careful, says a little voice in a heavy German accent, do you really want to be like Vikings? Have you ever truly looked at their murderous past? Germans finally got rid of the wall while in other places of the globe new walls are erected. In the face of current worldwide political events, this warning of lurking danger all of a sudden does not seem like an overstatement anymore. We must stay alert, even on our little island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
“The Puppet Master” is dedicated to my late parents, my children, stepchildren, and grandchildren.