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The Story of the Panda Bears

Told by a Saxophonist Who Has a Girlfriend in  Frankfurt

A man wakes up next to a woman whose name he does not remember; nor does he remember where and how they met, their journey to his apartment or what they did after they got there. The woman is happy to explain, and her recollection of the facts makes him plead with her to stay. She promises to return. He promises to wait for her.

“Nine nights. Fine. But after that, you ask for nothing more.”

Bound by a promise and a bottle of wine, they discover that sometimes all you need to
 approach perfection are nine nights and a broken alarm clock.

With an international cast and crew – Romanian, Icelandic, German, Danish and Chilean – that connected over Visniec’s writing, the performance highlights the unifying force of theatre and its power to become a common language that exceeds any borders.

“Visniec writes charming, nonsugary dialogue, utilizing that rare element in highly romanticized storytelling: silence.”     Tim Lowery: Time Out Chicago

“This play is very dear to me because I try to talk about love, the mystery of love, reincarnation through love, and initiation… about many things that we don’t think about often enough.”    Matei Visniec

Matéi Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, and even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre.
Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation who left a clear stamp on Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through “great ideas”, as well as brainwashing through ideology.
Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania with his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale.
At present, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some of his plays written in French are published. His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.
Originally written in French, The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt has been translated into many languages (German, Icelandic, Arabic, Japanese etc) and has been performed all around the world.
Photo Matéi Visniec: Andra Badulesco / all other photos: Hani Hamza


A danced requiem for an unintentionally funny humor philosopher in German, Polish and English. Two performers explore the contradictions of life with the help of a Bach cantata, a curtain and a special performative subtlety.
The starting point of the play is the (inevitable) death of one’s father. A common past ceases to be shared and becomes entirely our responsibility. The two performers dance their way through spiritual questions. A particular sense of trust makes them ready to work with whatever comes their way.
Why is something funny and when? Is humor a survival technique? How simple or complicated can it be, can we be? Do God, the devil and sin exist or are they just bad jokes that we are expected to laugh at?


Soldier M.I.A.

Soldier M.I.A. is a collaborative dance performance that attempts to re-imagine a Chinese queer feminist future, through the story of the female soldier, Hua Mulan (花木兰).

According to the classic legend, Mulan is a young woman who disguises herself as a man, in order to join the army and go to battle in her father’s place. On the surface, the story seems to advocate woman empowerment and emancipation; however at its root, it actually instrumentalizes female representation and bodies for patriarchal and nationalist purposes.

Framed as a fictive search-and-rescue mission, Soldier M.I.A. plays with the idea that Mulan has somehow gone missing in action (M.I.A.). Four “experts” with diverse Chinese backgrounds – a dancer, a dramaturg, a sound artist and a costume artist – join forces to find Mulan, using a mix of literary references, video footage of Chinese opera and personal stories. Together with the help of the audience, they will try to reconstruct the story of Mulan through a queer and feminist lens. Their task is to bring forth a new Mulan-in-action (M.I.A.). What battle will Soldier M.I.A. join in today? Whose flag will she be flying… or burning?

There will be a short post-show discussion after each performance.

On Saturday, November 25 at 4pm, Ming Poon will also hold an artist talk as part of his research project S.O.A.R. Queen (Study of a Rice Queen), which is supported by Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung. The talk will last approximately 90 minutes and admission is free of charge.


Present Body 2

In the moment of improvisation, a special, almost magical presence of the body emerges. Anything seems possible, even identity breaks free of its fixed structures and bonds and allows itself to be reinvented every moment.

Using music and dance, all of the artists weave their own experiences and memories into a common whole that remains in constant motion. Thoughts and ideas flash up, are taken up by the group and develop into something else. In this way, new connections and possibilities are always created, the power of change is revealed.

Present Body 2 is a live improvisation with dance and music dedicated to the decolonization of bodies. It builds up the performance of Present Body, which was recorded in November 2020 as part of the MIMIMI Space project and presented digitally at HAU4. The new version now links the Black and white perspectives: dancers from Grupo Oito and MIMIMI Space enter into dialogue with each other. They bring in their experiences and the physical repertoire of the last productions, in which they worked on a new form of physicality and being from different perspectives, thus looking for what they have in common and what connects them. Understand the past, dance the present and dream the future in your own way!

A post-performance discussion moderated by Nora Amin will be held on Wednesday, November 15

Ay Kash

Eleven girls use their pens, paints and voices to share their memories and experiences since the Taliban took power in 2021 and offer their hopes and dreams for a better future.

Eleven girls
With our hearts full of hope and desire.
With tears in our eyes and trembling legs, with no way to escape.
We are sitting in our bedrooms in Afghanistan and slowly dying.
Every time we rise to show ourselves, our legs are showered with bullets.
Eleven girls who only ask to be allowed to study, to travel, to let our hair fly in the wind and, from all the riches in this world, own a bicycle. Is it too much to ask? Is it too much if I want to become a psychologist? Or a painter?
Too much if I want to fall in love and have my heart broken? Too much if I prefer freedom over longing?
What it my hair turns grey, and my lips are never kissed?
We never wanted our share of the sky to simply be able to gaze at the moon from our bedroom windows.
I want to swim in the sky. Do I want too much?
Eleven brave warriors, standing against the Taliban’s oppression with our pens, art, poetry, and music.
Ay Kash is the voice of a nation sleeping in blood, the voice of a wounded geography.
Don’t let our desire to swim in the sky, rot in our hearts.
Don’t let the desire to take hold of our pen and fight, disappear.
#StandwithAfghanwomen #ThePeninsteadoftheGun
Text: S
Photo: Rhea Schmitt / Design: F

Since the withdrawal of the US in August 2021, the situation for women in Afghanistan has spiralled into despair. Women do not even have rights to be violated. They have lost the ability to learn, graduate, fall in love, travel alone, go for a walk in the park, or ride a bicycle. Ay Kash / ای کاش / If Only is a hybrid performance featuring live on-stage action and filmed “interaction” with eleven young women in Kabul & Herat, Afghanistan. Their true identities will remain hidden because it is simply too dangerous to do otherwise, but what they want to tell you will be given life and poetic space. And they want to tell you many things: they want to tell you the history of their country from their perspective, their personal stories since the Taliban have taken power, the stories of their mothers, their grandmothers and their hopes and dreams for the future. All this and more will burst into life with the help of song, object theater, storytelling and AI. The performance also features animations designed to protect the identities of the eleven young women by Berlin artist Anna Benner. In addition to the live performance, there is a touring exhibition featuring artwork, texts and soundscapes by the young women.

Under the Starry Afghan Sky are eleven young women aged between 15 – 23 living in Kabul & Heart, Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The collective evolved out of the work of Herat Online School founded by the educational activist Angela Ghayour who herself fled Afghanistan in 1992 and is facilitated by Rachel Karafistan of Cosmino Productions.

The Ay Kash / ای کاش / If Only exhibition featuring artwork, soundscapes and audio recorded by the young women from the Under the Starry Sky collective will take place at Graumaleri, Reuterstraße 82, 12053 Berlin from September 7 – 20. (Vernissage: September 7 at 7pm).

The project is entirely funded by public donations. You can donate to our project HERE.



Through an autobiographical reappraisal of choreographer Caroline Alves’ family history, the solo performance Transatlantica delves into the voids between Brazil and Europe, between past and present.

It is one among many family histories that are marked by settler colonialism in Brazil: histories based on the erasure of indigenous ancestors, carrying colonial continuities into the present. Following the traces of Senhorinha, the indigenous great-great-grandmother of whom only the colonial name remains, Caroline Alves explores the violent nexus of patriarchy and colonialism.

Transatlantica interweaves dance and storytelling, atmospherically oscillating between the elements of the stage set: the crystalline cold of a block of ice and the spreading, reflecting water that connects the continents. With tenderness and rage, Caroline Alves confronts her ancestral history and present, searching in the voids of the “official narrative” for the place from which to speak with her own words and movements that may break with the vast silence.

Second Class Queer

Actor and writer Kumar Muniandy questions his identity, queerness, internalized homophobia and experiences of racism with his play. In the midst of these terms and their politics, Kumar seeks his own truth.

Is it possible to live as a brown gay man in Germany and find healing while carrying the weight of oppression from his motherland? Set in a speed-dating event, will Kumar’s leading man, Krishna, win the role he wants in this audition for love?

Through the lens of his experience as a Tamil-Malaysian queer person living in Berlin, Kumar Muniandy has developed a theater piece that investigates the connections between internalized homophobia that stems from anti-homosexuality laws of the colonial era and the structural racism he experiences.

What are the consequences of such merciless neocolonialism for the mental health of queer minorities living in Germany today? After all, Krishna, like Kumar, is on a pursuit of forgiveness and self acceptance.

Second Class Queer is dedicated to Nhaveen.

Following a work-in-progress presentation as part of the 2022 Expo Festival, we are thrilled to offer additional performance of the finished version of this production.

We Can Do It Moaning (ABA NAIA)

What should we use our mouths for? Just for eating? Shouldn’t we also use them for kissing, licking, sucking and moaning?

Let’s send in these post-porn clowns and see how far you can go as a woman*! But watch out: It gets dirty. It gets messy. It gets hilarious and physical. It remains embarrassing and complicated. ABA NAIA teach us about moaning and transform sounds into language. They challenge the patriarchy with their vocal chords. You are invited to take part in a dialogue at the crossroads of science and lies, comedy and porn, feminism and lust.




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The Intervention of Loneliness

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” – The Beatles

Today we are living in the age of systemic loneliness. Despite the world being more interconnected and globalized than ever before, the number of lonely people continues to grow. Even before the pandemic started, loneliness was already a widespread problem: according to studies, one in ten people living in Germany felt lonely frequently or all the time. The pandemic has only made it worse. Social media, technology, capitalism, hedonistic consumer culture, neoliberal work ethics and urban way of living are contributing to the rise in loneliness and benefiting from it at the same time. Together they form a system that exposes us to loneliness on a daily basis and on a global scale. It not only affects our personal well-being, but also undermines our sense of collective belonging.

The Intervention of Loneliness is a collaborative dance performance that looks at the issue of systemic loneliness and human disconnection. Developed from an earlier public intervention (Dance With Me) – in which Ming Poon traveled to different cities asking strangers on the street to slow dance with him – this performance invites us to confront systemic loneliness together onstage. Slow dancing becomes an act of resistance, as our bodies reach out, make contact and hold each other. How can we reclaim loneliness, rather than letting it own us? What has the pandemic taught us about it? How can we transform loneliness from a place of separation and isolation into a tool for collective action and solidarity?

Note: A post-performance discussion will be offered after every show.

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 works with applied choreography and 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, and involve vulnerability, care, peripherality, queerness and failure as performance strategies. His practice is influenced by Buddhist concept of interdependence and care, Judith Butler’s resistance in vulnerability, Augusto Boal’s theater of the oppressed and Nicolas Bourriaud’s micro-utopias.

He initiated Asian Performing Artists Lab (APAL) in 2020 and is a founding member of United Networks gUG, a non-profit organisation for marginalized BIPoC artists in Germany. He is currently a fellow in the Berlin Artistic Research Program (2022-2023).

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).

Learning Feminism From Rwanda

Women in Europe are still fighting for what Rwanda achieved long ago: 62% of their members of parliament are female. In Germany, the figure is just 34%. This East African country declared gender parity the basis of its politics in 1994. Meanwhile in Germany, this kind of parity is still a long way off despite gender equality being enshrined in common law since 1949.

A Rwandan and a German performer discuss numbers and realities from both countries, using a drum as the central symbol of power. They take a peek behind the curtain: if women are empowered, how do men deal with losing their power and what are the lines of confrontation in the home? How slowly or quickly do quotas change a culture and the mindset of a nation?

With speeches, statistics, songs and protest choreography, Learning Feminism from Rwanda follows the trail of Rwandan fast-track feminism from shiny statistics and glass ceilings to hearth and home. Let’s see how much Europe can learn from Rwanda?

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, three performers from Kigali will be present on video and one German and one Rwandan performer will be live on stage.


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Die Wiederaufnahme wird gefördert vom Fonds Darstellende Künste aus Mitteln der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Rahmen von NEUSTART KULTUR. These additional performances are supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.