I spent Halloween evening at a hilarious spellbinding Blue Man performance in Berlin! The unique multimedia show is appearing at the Stage BlueMax Theater on Marlene-Dietrich-Platz in Potsdam Square. It was sold out and totally fun!
Blue Man Group Without Makeup
“They are blue, they are three, they carry bald heads and do not make a sound…”
Custom Instrument Made of PVC Pipes
Blue Man Group with Drumbone
The show originated in the US but is one of Berlin’s most successful long-term productions – “a mix of music, rhythms, comedy, and intense visual effects”. There are productions in Las Vegas, New York, Boston, Orlando, and Chicago. The Berlin show began in 2004 and is the Group’s first and only permanent venue outside the US.
The show emerged from New York’s art scene during the late 1980s. The original performance was in 1988 with founders Phil Stanton, Matt Goldman, and Chris Wink – as the first blue trio. Since then, the “three extremely creative bald heads have been unstoppable”. In 1991, they received the coveted “Obie Award” for theater – a well-deserved recognition of their talent.
The Blue Men actively interact with their audience during the performance. The audience participates by providing prompted (in German) verbal and body action. Those sitting front and center wear plastic ponchos for protection from paint spray. At one point the three highly fit Blue Men made animal-like crawling moves as they climbed from the stage through seats in the center of the theater – exhilarating!
Blue Man Group Berlin
Segments of the program feature randomly chosen members of the audience. One was pretty intense, so I wonder if they “planted” that participant. There were two Olympic Gold Medal winners in the audience.
Audience Berlin Performance
Interior BlueMax Theater
“Music and rhythm are integral parts of every Blue Man Group performance. In contrast to the band, the Blaumänner themselves do not play conventional electric guitars or drum kits, but specially created instruments.”
Blue Man Group with Unique Musical Instruments
A live band, including an incredible drummer, accompanied the Blue Men on stage and provided “an intense atmosphere reminiscent of a rock concert”. The “classic instrument of the troupe” is an impressive percussion made of PVC pipes. I’ve never seen anything like it. The sound was fantastic! Their outstanding musical performances show that they are experienced percussionists. They also used a smaller but “just as ingenious drumbone, a fascinating fusion of drums and trombone”.
BlueMax Theatre Berlin
In July 2017, Canadian Cirque du Soleil announced its intention to take over the parent company of the Blue Man Group. The entertainment company “intends to market Blue Man Group worldwide and diversify its live performances”.
BlueMax Stage Theater Berlin
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening! It was mesmerizing fun!
“Järvi is a fascinating man to watch in concert. Not only is he a Grammy award-winning conductor but he is also a swift mover on the stage. He remains focused, and incredibly involved in the music.”
“Berlin’s striking pentagonal yellow concert hall was the product of designs by Hans Scharoun. It, along with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the chamber music hall, and the State Library, make up Berlin’s Kulturforum.“
The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.
The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained! Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.
Next Long Trip
I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!
Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.
Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.
Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the real issues keeping South Africans awake at night.
Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images
Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com
South Africa’s EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition”.
My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.
During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin…
Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images
The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…
Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia
Berlin This Fall
I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.
I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”
Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.