German actor takes over John Lloyd Cruz’s role in Khavn's ‘SMAK!’ in Berlin

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Mar 25 2022 08:03 PM

German actor Mick Mehnert takes over John Lloyd Cruz's role in Khavn's 'SMAK!' in Berlin. Photo from Mehnert's Instagram page
German actor Mick Mehnert takes over John Lloyd Cruz's role in Khavn's 'SMAK!' in Berlin. Photo from Mehnert's Instagram page

German-American actor Mick Morris Mehnert will play Faustrollol, the role meant for John Lloyd Cruz in Khavn’s live music theatre piece with an epic-long title: “SMAK! SuperMacho AntiKristo: A Headless 100-Act Opera To Mend All Broken Bicycles Of The Universe According To Jarry & Rizal By Khavn, Grand Seer Of The Philippine KKKingdom,” or “SMAK!” for short. 

To be staged at Germany’s iconic theater Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin from April, “SMAK!” is described as a hybrid of opera, silent cinema, avant-rock music, spoken word poetry, dance party, and kinetic sculpture.

“He is very famous here,” Khavn told ABS-CBN News via Facebook Messenger. 

Filipinos Bituin Escalante, Bong Cabrera, Roxlee, Hobbit House’s King John, Bullet Dumas and visual artist Leeroy New are on their second week of rehearsals for the theatrical piece with their German counterparts. 

The script also had to be revised because the role of Faustrollol originally has dialogue in Tagalog, Cebuano and Waray. Now with a German actor, there’s a mix of German, English and Filipino.

“’SMAK!’ is also a hybrid of languages. Besides Tagalog, Cebuano, Waray and Ivatan, dialogues are written in mixed German, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Greek, Latin, Hindustani, Bengali and Czech,” Khavn said. 

Scriptwriter Douglas Candano, who is in Manila, had to postpone some of his plans and locked himself up in his condo unit to rework Faustrollol’s lines that would fit well with Mehnert. 

“Faustrollol is an academically brilliant assassin who can travel through time and space using a bicycle with a snake-like dildo,” Candano said.

“He is inspired by the serpent Aphopis from the Egyptian book ‘Amduat’. The sickest and most brilliant executioner this side of the askew. He travels time and space to murder on Ubulbulul’s behalf,” Candano added. Ubulbulul is another main character played by German actor Daniel Zillmann.

“Known for the academic brilliance of his divination and the precise cruelty of his execution methods, he uses his snake-dildo bicycle when not on foot,” said Candano. 

Filipino filmmaker-musician-cartoonist Roxlee (middle) with 'SMAK!' co-actors Mick Morris Mehnert (left) and Sascha Schicht. Photo courtesy of Roxlee
Filipino filmmaker-musician-cartoonist Roxlee (middle) with 'SMAK!' co-actors Mick Morris Mehnert (left) and Sascha Schicht. Photo courtesy of Roxlee

Mehnert is a theater-film actor-fashion model of short stature. As described in his website, Mehnert has “already appeared for Universal Studios and in various other film projects.”

Among his acting credits are playing the lead role in “Little Muck,” a German fairy tale adapted into play, and the role of Thekk in the ZDF film “Snow White and the Magic of the Dwarfs.” He is also a model for the fashion label Auf Augenhoehe. 

“I like it a lot, I find ‘SMAK!’ very interesting, and I am looking forward to how it develops. I liked the script reading as well,” Mehnert told ABS-CBN News as relayed by Khavn during the first week of rehearsals. 

After Cruz withdrew participation four days before the Filipino actors flew to Berlin, the next best option was to get a German actor like Mehnert as replacement, Khavn told ABS-CBN News.

“I would have wanted a Filipino actor based in the Philippines to replace John Lloyd because of the opportunity to perform in Berlin. It would open lots of doors in the international scene for a kababayan,” Khavn added. 

But visa availability would have to be considered and the fact that Germany doesn’t recognize Sinovac as a valid vaccine. The latter was one of the reasons why Cruz cancelled at the last minute, Khavn told ABS-CBN News. Cruz’s management firm also cited the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Other members of the German cast are Lilith Stangenberg, playing the female lead named Sisa Jarry, legendary Brezel Goering of the band Stereo Total as Corporal Punishment, and Maximilian Brauer as Uncle Jesus Ex Machina.

“We got three other actors (of short stature) aside from Mehnert. One from Berlin, one from Hamburg and one from Munich,” said Khavn.

They are Sascha Schicht, Cem Aydin and Yasmin Saleh. Schicht plays a character named Cock-Cock. Aydin plays Bossanaga and Saleh as Mescalina.

“They are well known actors here in Berlin and other parts of Europe,” Khavn told ABS-CBN News in a follow-up online interview.

Schicht, when asked to describe “SMAK!” said, “I think about these words: love, respect, fun, trust, and also crazy in a good way.”

The other members of the cast are Bituin Escalante as Mamamakbet, Roxlee as Caesar Hazard (a transmutation of “Cesar Asar”), Bullet Dumas as Tikbalangay, Lady Maru as Mother Inferior, Bong Cabrera as Pope Mustard, King John as Roy-Roy, Katch23 as Alf Jarry, Charlie Sage as Frida Jarry, Nozomi as God, Antto Logy as Cone Kiss Tadora, Anna Fusek as JS Bacharach and Khavn himself as Hitlerizal Isprakenhayt. 

Khavn said auteur Lav Diaz will join “SMAK!” for its seventh performance on April 28. Diaz will act and play lead guitar. 

Not only European audiences are expected to watch but Filipino migrants and overseas workers based in Berlin and nearby cities who would want to experience this originally homegrown hybrid theater. 

Rest assured, they will come back again and again at Volksbühne Theater for, well… “one more chance” or “a second chance” on “SMAK!”