“O! My Bear! O! Panda Mia!”

„Why not the Bear?“ by and with Lena Binski (Berlin)

Participative Installation and Performance

...Before this extraordinary cultural event I was pondering and brooding over it. The word “bear” - what do I know about it? How many, if any, synonyms and associations these three letters, if in German and Hebrew languages: “Bär”, “דוב”. Or seven letters, if in Russian language: “медведь” [medved’]. Or four letters, if in English language: “bear”. OK... These pixels of modern world’s Etymology – what do they mean for me??? I was contemplating and speculating on this issue.

And it transpired that this word does evoke quite many associations!

The mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Bern – the capital of Switzerland, also the Bear. Symbolic for many cities around the Globe, for Berlin, for instance. And also on the flag of the State of California. Panda epitomizes many events in South East Asia and, in my opinion, is being absolutely irretrievable from the spirit of the Orient. As well as from the folklore culture of the Occident. Plenty of Russian fairy tales are being connected with this ursine character! How many idioms in so many languages are being connected with the bearish theme! And last, but not the least, they said, that in Mother Russia the bears pawed the streets in some cities, including the space of The Red Square. Till today I wonder, where they always hid themselves, as I was not able to glimpse them even once... But, personally for me the most significant Etymology of the ursine letters was quite different. At school I devoted quite a lot of my time to the freestyle wrestling. And Alexander Medved is the three times Olympic champion in this sport. This outstanding athlete’s achievements and performances on the international wrestling carpet, undoubtedly, were the guiding specimen of sportsmanship and human achieving. I felt and sensed so too.

But what kind of a bear I would encounter at the Theatre A Parte at Annenstrasse 20 A (in Witten 58453)? That was the intriguing part of that Theatre going evening. What kind of creature would be promulgating performance at the International Theatre Festival “Klein Aber Fein”? I was very eager to realize this!

...Dear and Highly Esteemed Readers! Have you ever entered the cage with the bear in your life? Most likely you would reply in the negative. But I did so this evening! I was in the confines of this kennel. But what a Bear it was! Friendly! Courteous! Amicable! The one I would love to share the bear hug with!

This ursine creature even treated me with the bottle of the most delectable lemonade! And the bars of this cage were made of some hawser ropes. I would say it was the most inmates’ friendly incarceration in the world. Free to enter! Free to leave! Free to go to freedom any time!

And here I would refer to the feeling and thought, that being in this cage with this most charming Bear (actress Lena Binski) was very freeing and liberating experience for me. For the duration of this interactive performance I was able to free myself from the shackles and apprehensive fears of uncertainty, of unpredictability, of the unknown. In a nutshell and very simple vocabulary: with this Dear Bear everything was good, certain, pleasant and, most importantly, halcyon! How unconcerned and placid were these moments, albeit they were very fleeting too! Dear Lena Binski, I would love to prolong these minutes, seconds and instances of theatrical interaction! I am sure everyone from the odeum would hundred percent agree with me.

Sounds unusual, doesn’t it?.. “Behind the bars” more latitude of liberty, than outside of them... But the participating installation “Warum nicht der Bär” performed by Lena Binski made such transfiguration the reality!

This staging was also a kind of meditation for me. (And honestly speaking, this is why I had some thoughts about Buddhism, and Lena Binski's Bear for some minutes transformed itself into Himalayan bear and then into Panda).

With the tranquilizing sounds of nature: chirping oscine chords, croaking of the frogs, oceanic breezes and billowing waves of the nightly forest silence. The Bear did know how to use the tape recorder! And soothing atmosphere of the natural reserve sanctuary was created on stage. Yes, within the quadratic space of the cage, delineated by its boarders.

And, apparently, this Bear did like Beethoven's music too. No... it wasn't the tape recorder, but a radio set from the 1970s, or 1960s. When one could simply sip cocoa, or coffee at breakfast without bothering to check the messages on the smartphone. Those were the times...

The performance “Warum nicht der Bär?” by and with Lena Binski is a very intelligent and invigorating experience for the viewers of all ages. Also an excellent opportunity for the family viewing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Lena Binski and to the Theatre A Parte in Witten for this opportunity to be a spectator and verbatim the stage performer. I hope, I was an appropriate acting participant of this theatrical installation.

Thinking somewhat humorously about grim realities of the last several years I would like to exclaim with a sigh of relief: O! Panda Mia! O! My Bear! How “Pandamic”, so extensively Thespian were Your improvisations.

I am giving to You the wholehearted, most sincere Bear Hug – die Bärenumarmung!

Truly theatrically Yours,

Pinkhas-Peter Friesen