A night with Tim Fischer

Monday 19 December 8pm, Tipi am Kansleramt; Tim Fischer performing Zarah ohne Kleind

Second goal for 2012: learn German.

I saw the wonderful chanteuse Tim Fischer, German cabaret artist (sans the sparkles) at Tipi am Kanzleramt, the ‘baby’ Speigeltent. I am not too sure if ‘baby’ is the right adjective because it is goes way beyond a mini tent – it is the same size of Melbourne’s Speigeltent, maybe a little bigger. The only thing lacking in the baby spiegal, are the mirrors and booths – all there is, is a chandelier centre hung from an array of fairylights.

I pre-booked my ticket, to make the experience as smooth as possible. After the recent shenanigans of losing my way in the city the night before on the way to see Corinne Douarre at Corbo, I thought it would be best to set myself up. Really, I should have purchased a ticket in the far back row instead of a single ticket at a table with five other strangers, two of which have followed Tim Fischer from the beginning of his career at 18 – making that a 20 year ‘fan’-ship.

Tim Fischer performs Zarah Leander chansons as well as some of his own. He appears on stage in a black svelte velvet vampiric number and an immaculate almost airbrushed performance face (and chest). He’s performance style is simple but extremely powerful. He rules the stage like Speigeltent, Weimar republic, and chanson royalty with androgyny, sex, and simplicity. You can feel each boy and girl in the audience groaning with delight at the end of every chanson.

Tim is the Queen of Manipulation. This is something you are never aware of until too late. You notice the seduction at the end of the show when you are beating the floor with your boots for encore number 4. You take the first song, and feel the sex in your hips. The second, you are reminded of romance. The third, you ask ‘why it is am i here?’. The fourth, you need to cry because life is incredibly beautiful and blessed.

There was only one thing tonight that limited how far I could get with Tim Fischer.

At interval, the German woman next to me started conversation in German, presuming of course that I am a German speaker – Ja?!?. I panicked. Instead of replying in German with ‘I am from Australia and I am here to do such and such’ – I replied back in English with ‘I am an Australian’. She cackled. She did not laugh. She cackled. I knew why she found it hilarious. Tim Fischer sung and spoke everything in German. The German woman found it over the top humorous that I was at the show – she thought it was a waste of my time because to her, I could not understand a thing. She changed her tune when I explained to her why I was there, my grant, my show, and why I decided to get a ticket to see Tim Fischer despite not speaking german fluently. The cackling stopped instantly. Her body language changed and she started to fill me in on her reasons why she is a proud Tim Fischer follower. And even wished me luck when she bid aufweirdersen for the night.

Yes, it would have helped that I had a sound understanding of German. The songs performed were so decadent in their language and literature, and it would have taken my Tim Fischer experience right to the top! After all, Cabaret/Kabarett is words, stories, vocal language, interpretation, song, satire, comedy and darkness. But as I explained to the German woman, it would have been a shame to miss out on Tipi and Tim Fischer only because of a language barrier. How many times have I caught Baba – my Macedonian grandmother – in front of daytime television aka ‘Young and the Restless’ listening and interpreting the dramas not through spoken dialogue but tone of language, facial expression and body talk. Tim Fischer is one of the best, proven by the crowd’s demands to have him forever more on their stage. They love him. And it doesn’t take long to work out why.

Yes, I didn’t understand word for word what he was singing or reciting but I could understand enough to decipher what story he was telling. Whatever he was feeling, I was feeling it too. He is an interpreter, a brilliant one at that, and made me feel extremely comfortable. There was no ‘lost in translation’, for there was no translation. I connected purely on emotion, on the audience’s reaction and with Tim’s glowing presence.

The woman’s cackle made me think that taking a peek at the cabaret scene in Berlin was going to present me with many a problem. I did not think that all of the cabaret/kabarett performed would be in German (not that i thought it was all performed in english either). This then made me think that it would effect my appreciation of the history and current nature of the genre of Cabaret/Kabarett.

DESPITE MY LACK OF WORDS, there were many things I took away from Zhara ohne Kleind that didn’t include what was said or sung. These things included lighting – design and technique, costume, the space, structure of show, presentation, construction of character, alterego, powerplay with the audience, interaction with the accompanist, arrangements, delivery of song, monologue, and poetry. Most importantly, I was there. I’ve got a taste for Tim, and will see more of him for sure. The next time i will have skilled me up with German and ready to take the full dose of Tim Fischer. And I cannot wait!