Under Ice in Münster

At the Münster City Theater I also saw a play: Unter Eis (Under Ice) by Falk Richter, a German playwright who also stages operas — he was the stage director for a Frankfurt production of Elektra, by Richard Strauss, for example.

The play Unter Eis is about consultants, people who are paid to visit business companies and other organizations and advise them about how they could reorganize themselves to become more efficient. This usually involves firing some of the employees and putting more pressure on the rest.

Before I retired I had dealings with consultants on several occasions, so I can confirm that Falk Richter has captured exactly the way these people think and talk — but compressed into one hundred minutes, so they sound even more grotesque on stage than in real life.

Did I say on stage??

In Münster they didn’t perform it on a stage, but in the theater café, where we forty spectators sat at tables arranged in a long rectangle, as at a business meeting. Two of the actors sat with us at the tables, initially, and the other two were at the two ends of the room.

German consultants tend to use lots of English-language jargon when they speak, so the program booklet includes a glossary to explain such terms as BCG, bootcamp, bottom line-effect, case study, coach, core values, entrepreneurial spirit, life-master-plan, point of aggression, personal effectiveness, pressure handling, senior consultant, etc.

Unter Eis has also been made into an opera, but I unfortunately missed it when it was performed in Frankfurt, so I was glad I could at least see the play in Münster.

Münster City Theater

Münster’s old Lortzing-Theater (named after the composer Albert Lortzing, who was active as an actor and singer in Münster from 1826 to 1833) was destroyed in the bombings of World War II.

After the war they decided not to reconstruct the old theater. Instead, four architects were commissioned to design and build a new one. I had actually heard of one of these architects, namely Werner Ruhnau, since he was the one who later built the opera house “MiR” in Gelsenkirchen.

An old façade in the new theater

In Münster it turned out that on the site of the destroyed theater one wall of the old building was still standing. Instead of tearing down that remaining wall, the architects decided to preserve it and incorporate it into their new theater. So the old wall is still there today, as sort of a conversation piece in the courtyard of the modern building. The new theater, with 955 seats, was opened in 1954.

The rear side of the old façade

My photos in this post are from 2009. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Münster (Westfalen), Germany.

6 thoughts on “Under Ice in Münster”

  1. Do you remember a movie “Cheaper by the Dozen”? It was about the 12 children – written by one of the children – of the efficiency expert whose name was Gilbreth. He said he always looked for the laziest employee in a factory because that person would have found the most efficient way to work. He died of a heart attack leaving his wife Lillian a young widow and so she of necessity carried on with their work. She wrote a book “Management in the Home” which showed how women with handicaps could still do housework among other things.

    Anyway – I’ve never seen the type of consultant you write about – I was always in government work which is un-susceptible to efficiency 🙂 I did work as a consultant myself for 14 years but I was a health consultant – to tell companies how to be in compliance with OSHA

    1. I also worked for the government, namely the city government of Frankfurt, but our adult education center was reorganized several times during the 48 years I was there. Usually they hired a team of outside consultants to pick our brains and make recommendations in accordance with whatever ideology was prevailing at the time.

  2. It’s nice they preserved the old facade of the theater. The modern building is quite attractive too. The opera would have been more fun than the play although Elektra would have been spectacular.

    1. The opera Unter Eis (music by Jörn Arnecke, libretto and staging by Falk Richter), is I believe the only Frankfurt opera production that I have completely missed in the past thirty years. I missed it because I was in Paris during the entire run.

  3. Was only here for one night. Met some VTers at the local brewery…surprise, surprise. VT may be gone but still friends with quite a few old members and the brewery is still there. It’s always on my list of places to return to….one day!

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