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Exotic Animal

Exotic Animal is an online audience collaborative performance that takes place via the platform Zoom.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” – Audre Lorde

Exotic is warm and spicy. It is one letter away from erotic. It promises adventure. Exotic is somewhere far away and foreign. Exotic is strange, but also very appealing and desirable. It is always over there, not here; them, not us; you, never me. Exotic is dark and mysterious, but its threat is tamed and contained.

The exotic industry has become a big and lucrative market, offering goods and services ranging from food, fashion, music, books, health products, workshops, collectibles, antiques to cultural attractions, theme events, tourism and corporate branding. It has often been touted as a fun and light way to promote the appreciation and experience of foreign cultures. But is it as innocent as it appears? What lurks beneath its foreigner-friendly surface? This collaborative performance invites the audience to see what it takes to create the ideal exotic look.

Drawing on his personal experience as a dancer of Asian origin, Ming Poon looks at how eurocentrism, globalization and cultural consumerism contribute to the exoticization of his body for the art market. Approaching the body as a site on which meanings, values and boundaries are inscribed, he interrogates how the exotic gaze displaces and appropriates his body, turning it into a cultural commodity and a symbol of subjugation. Exotic Animal both invites and confronts the exotic gaze. Staring defiantly back, it attempts to shift the power relation between the gazer and itself.

Ming Poon is a Berlin-based choreographer who began his career as professional dancer in 1993 and started to develop his choreographic practice in 2010. He creates choreographic interventions, where spectators are invited to exercise their agency to create change. His works are interactive and collaborative in design. They usually take the form of collaborative performances, public interventions and one-to-one encounters. He works with vulnerability, care, peripherality and failure as performance strategy.

His practice is influenced by Buddhist concept of interdependence and care, Judith Butler’s resistance in vulnerability, Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed and Nicolas Bourriaud’s micro-utopias.

His works have been presented at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (Singapore), The Substation (Singapore), English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center (Berlin, Germany), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin, Germany), Scenario Pubblico | Centro Nazionale di Produzione della Danza (Catania, Italy) and Südpol (Luzern, Switzerland).

A Better Life

If you want a better life, you must live a better life.

The performance A Better Life, a co-production from MS Schrittmacher (Berlin) and Brain Store Project (Sofia), deals with the question what a better life can mean and what we do to achieve it.

In European society, moving and being mobile is not only important, but also easier than it was ever before. This gives all European citizens the opportunity to move to a new place if they feel like there can be better options, better living circumstances or sometimes just better weather. We, as individuals, are all responsible to ourselves to live a life that we think is fulfilled and worth living. What would we give up to raise our standards? Are we ready to trade social capital for material capital? What does a good life mean to us and what does even a better life mean to us?

The concept of the performance A Better Life is a result of the research project LUXUS-WEG, funded by the Szenenwechsel (Change of Scene) program of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and a co-production between the performance group MS Schrittmacher from Berlin and ACT Association for Independent Theater from Sofia.

Over the course of this research, the choreographers and performers Martin Stiefermann (Berlin), Iva Sveshtarova and Willy Prager (Sofia) as well as the dramaturg Natalie Baudy (Berlin) have explored the migration patterns of German senior citizens living in old-age poverty going to Bulgaria and young Bulgarians coming to work and study in Germany. The focus lies on the questions of what compromises we make in exchange for a better life and what effects our decisions have on society. What is the motivation for those migration patterns within the EU and what does a better life even mean to us?

To begin, the team met in Sofia where they started their research and made contact with German retirees living in Bulgaria. Afterward, they traveled to Varna, Baltchik, Kavarna and the Golden Beach and talked to female German senior citizens living there about their motivation to start a new life in Bulgaria. They entered into intensive conversation with them, conducted interviews and became acquainted with their living spaces and their everyday lives. In February 2019, a further intensive research phase followed in Berlin, in which a corresponding catalogue of questions was addressed to Bulgarians living in Germany.

Rejection (Dirty Granny Tales)

Rejection, which many believe is Dirty Granny’s most successful production thus far, is performed in a way we have never seen before. The team adds another dimension to the narrative of the story, going down paths they have never dared to take before.

The production is inspired by the life of serial killer Ed Gein, which has prompted the creation of various murderous characters in literature and the cinema, including Norman Bates in Robert Bloch’s Psycho, brought to the screen by Alfred Hitchcock, and Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s  film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Dirty Granny’s dark tales are a combination of live acoustic music, puppetry, dance and animation projection, strongly influenced by Tim Burton and The Residents, as well as Manos Hadzidakis, David Bowie, Black Metal and progressive psychedelic rock. They also feature contemporary dance involving dolls and movement in costumes, somewhat reminiscent of Japanese gothic theater.

The story describes the relationship between an authoritarian mother and her son. A mother who didn’t allow her child to feel love from anyone but herself. A child whose only contact with the outside world was through a small window. A child for whom other childrens’ games and smiles always remained inaccessible. His deprived childhood turned him into a repulsive creature and his rejection by humans was inevitable. His need for social contact led him to murder and ultimately to execution. The fairy tale unfolds in the world of the dead. How will the other souls there respond to him? Will they accept him or reject him too?

 

Please, Repeat After Me

Following a sold-out performance in the 2019 Expo Festival and a rave review in Der Tagesspiegel, we are very pleased to welcome Please, Repeat After Me back for two encore performances!

I have millions of reasons to be crazy; give me one reason to be sane!

Or

Please, Repeat After Me is a play about decision-making and labels.

(We)* are left abandoned in the theater with a real mermaid: a fish incapable of being eaten and a woman incapable of seduction.

But the mermaid is real!

When does a stereotype stop being a stereotype?

When does a refugee stop being a refugee?

When does an actor stop being an actor?

 

Fuck me i love you

The circular motion and fluctuation of desire, power, ambition and the endless search for the unattainable love we all crave for is explored by an international cast of seven multi-talented performers. Together they create a station drama inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s Reigen (La Ronde).

A series of encounters strung together depicts a society locked in a cycle.

“This city is no place for love. The people are too fragile to be genuine, too shrewd to be open. One becomes accustomed to immerse oneself in so many vain interests and ultimately lose sight of what is real.” Heinrich von Kleist, 1800.

I Am Not A Joke (Take Two)

WORLD PREMIERE

Feminism has never been so hip and trendy! We could see this as a true victory for feminism and still post a “I’m a feminist” selfie real quick. Let’s be honest. This kind of “high gloss feminism” doesn’t cover up the smell of the shit we encounter every day in the form of sexism, racism and every other kind of possible phobia.

Accompanied by a guitar, a synthesizer and drum machine, The Kill Joys sing, scream and perform against daily discriminations and the patriarchy. I Am Not A Joke (Take Two) is an appeal against this shit while simultaneously questioning the consumability of feminism.

The Kill Joys (Olivia Hyunsin Kim, Magda Drozd & Co.) examine intersectional feminist issues within the form of a theatrical concert performance. The collective was founded in 2016 and has screamed about what makes them angry in a do-it-yourself style ever since. Using songs and performative actions that focus on their own experiences with everyday racism as well as within the performing arts, they create a feminism that is relevant for them and their concerns as women, artists and immigrants that is certainly not a “feel good” marketing strategy.

Featuring a post-performance discussion on Thursday, March 1 in collaboration with Theater Scoutings Berlin!

Latent Dreams

Latent Dreams is a performance about the future.

Or more specifically the possible futures for the human race beyond the system of capitalism. The performance grew out of the quote “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”, often cited to Frederic Jameson in his essay Future Cities.

Intrigued by this quote, I began to research possible alternatives to the capitalist system, and came across a “widespread lack of conviction in the possibility of transcending capitalism, and indeed, a difficulty in even imagining such a task”[1]. I wanted to encourage more discussions around alternative systems, and so I created Latent Dreams, about the futures we allow ourselves to envision, as a provocation to envision alternative ones.

Using the frame of Hollywood films, Latent Dreams unravels the inherent capitalist ideologies embodied in popular concepts of the Apocalypse. It involves a solo performer typing a “plot summary” of a disaster film, which is rewritten and rewritten, erased, repeated and deleted throughout the performance. The text is humorous, occasionally poignant, often misspelled and always human.

Latent Dreams aims not to provide a solution, but instead open a dialogue on imagined futures, and alternative systems.

[1] Hahnel, Robert & Wright, Erik Olin, Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy, p5.

Latent Dreams was conceived as part of the MLitt Theatre Practice at the University of Glasgow. It was first performed at the Gilmorehill Theatre, Glasgow, in September 2016. After presenting the show in its original form in the 2017 Expat Expo | Immigrant Invasion festival, we are proud to present a run of this extended, revised Berlin-specific version.

Katrine Turner is a performance maker based between Berlin and Glasgow. She creates performance for different social contexts, settings and audiences. In November 2016, she graduated from the University of Glasgow in MLitt Theatre Practice with Distinction, where she was the College of the Arts Bellahouston Scholar 2015/2016.

The Other/Promised Land

“Maybe it’s just a myth.

You have your own history.

I have my own history.

And now we are just sharing the bathroom.”

 

Shlomo Lieberman and Ulrich Leinz confront three very different love stories in their performance: the disturbing memories about the grandmother who survived Auschwitz, the painful love letters of the German grandfather from Warsaw in 1943 and their own attempt to survive their relationship as a gay German/Israeli couple in Berlin.

 

Supported by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte

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ÜBERSETZUNG/TRANSLATION/TRADUÇÃO

A performance somewhere between spoken word theater and a “dysfunctional” musical, Übersetzung is a personal kaleidoscopic view of Europe and the world we live in today. It is performed in English, Portuguese and German, a babel of languages.

The rise of nationalism, the reawakened fear of “the other”, the growing feeling of war observed daily in the news are all terrifying. In this tower of Babel that is Europe, will our differences destroy us once again? Haven’t we learned anything?

A: We are from everywhere; we will always be from nowhere…

B: What should I do now? Is there still a Europe? Am I at war? Are we at war? Is my democracy becoming dangerous? For me? For others?

C: How can I say this? How will I be able to communicate this? How can I translate myself?

D: One day we bought a one-way ticket from Lisbon to Berlin and left everything behind. The purpose? Start over. The world is a far good experience to miss. New country. New city. New people. New language(s) and Europe on the brink.”

 

*Illustration based on the painting The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

Following a stunning premiere at the 2016 Expat Expo | Immigrant Invasion festival, we are very excited to invite this production back for three additional performances!

Featuring a post-performance discussion on December in conjunction with Theater Scoutings Berlin!

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Telion’s Garden (Dirty Granny Tales)

Dirty Granny Tales is an acoustic ensemble that narrates atmospheric stories. Their shows include puppet theater, dance performance and video animation projection, all of which, accompanied by the music, bring the story to life.

Influenced by the atmospheric fairytales of Tim Burton and Guilermo Del Toro, the melodies of Danny Elfman, the irony of Tiger Lillies, The Residents’ sterile landscape, Japanese Gothic theater and Butoh choreography, Dirty Granny Tales transports us to a magical dark world in their own extraordinary way.

Telion’s Garden, a tale influenced by migration, invades human instincts. Indignation and fear lead to desperate decisions. The pursuit of a perfect, flawless, godly world becomes the goal: a world that no flames can destroy, a world that has no room for hellish fire. Alas, the lack of fire can only create an emotionless world. Perfection is an illusion. Life is an inseparable bond of light and darkness. Respecting this bond is the only key to our survival.

 

Dirty Granny Tales are:

Stavros Mitropoulos (Mouldbreath): Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

Thanos Mitropoulos (Wormeaten Vagus): Bass, Blockflute, Backing Vocals

Dalai Theofilopoulou (Slimeskin): Cello, Backing Vocals

Uli Muehe (Heartbeat Zero): Percussion, Backing Vocals

Ruby Wilson: Dance

Giulia del Balzi: Dance