Sebastian Nübling reacts as if I’ve offered him a plate of poo. It’s the second day of my stay in Basel and we’re about to start the day’s rehearsals. The cast are getting ready and rather than offering a scatological serving I’ve simply asked Sebastian how he auditioned the cast.
I get the vague impression he dislikes this casting method, he would much rather just approach the people he feels would be interesting in the role. Undoubtedly it’s a philosophy privileged by working with some of the best permanent ensembles in the world but its an admirable aversion all the same. Rather than five minutes of desperate showcasing fueled by pushy parents, casting tends to rely on Uwe and Simone’s considerable knowledge of the those that attend the classes. Some like Nico, a charming performance poet, have left school and have only recently joined the classes in that uncertain time before further training or work. Others are still at school but allowed time off: projects such as these are seen as legitimate reasons to suspend studies in Switzerland. I must assume it’s the same in Germany as that’s where young Joshua Brunner (Yoshi) travels from every day, showing a commitment which is all the more impressive considering his wide-eyed youth.
There are still some left field castings. Lukas Stäuble who plays Jacob/Anna (Named the former with the lines of the later) is principally a musician known to Sebastian and the Junges Theatre through his bandmate Julian Schneider who was in Sebastian’s Punk Rock. Lukas, a distinctly cool dude with a Shorditch haircut, goatee and earring usually plays in a gypsy band but in Morning he has become a beat boxer. He provides an almost constant musical presence, the theatrical cousin of Mikey in our production. (Both children of Nubling’s trickster ) He is joined is his musical malarky by Olivia Ronzani who plays Anna/Jacob with a smokey minimalism, one of the quietest members of the cast who ends up doing some of the most outrages things i.e. a full on Reggaeton shake.
Inevitably I compare this cast to the Lyric one. There are striking similarities and interesting differences. Tabea Buser’s Stephanie is the same breed as Scarlett’s: insouciant and striking*. Though both on and off stage Tabea has an added bullish energy, only revealing her heart breaking vulnerability in the presence of Cat. This is interesting because whereas in our version Cat was the older, sexier young woman about to go to university, Jara Bihler who plays her here, is one of the youngest in the cast, a school girl on and off stage. Despite her age however Jara is perfectly at ease in this world (her father is an actor who has also worked with Sebastian) bringing a confidence and bright intelligence to the role. It seems fitting that in a play where the older generations are absent and weak it is the youngest girl who is most dominant.
Back home debate is ongoing regarding what it is exactly that makes theatre in the German speaking world so remarkable. Whilst a general rock and roll irreverence is the most obvious quality it must be agreed that a lot is made possible by the more logistical differences such as ensemble casting. A decent knowledge of the people you want to work with certainly has considerable merits and in the case of Morning it has lead to the creation of an incredibly exciting group of performers. I can’t wait to see the show they and Sebastian have created…
*I’m convinced that Tabea with her prominent cheek bones and sparkling deep set eyes is in fact Stephen Tyler’s love child.