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Happy Days

From now until mid-June, ETB | IPAC will present a series of notable Irish guest performances as well as a brand-new production of the Irish classic Happy Days as part of ZEITGEIST IRLAND 24, a season of Irish arts and culture in Germany, funded by Culture Ireland.

Before we present six award-winning shows by Pan Pan, Brokentalkers, Pat Kinevane, Eva O’Connor and Dee Mulrooney as part of the three-week festival IRISH THEATRE BERLIN in May and June, our new production of the dystopian classic Happy Days by Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett, directed by Walter D. Asmus, a long-time collaborator and friend of Beckett, marks the beginning of our focus on Ireland.

“Oh this is going to be another happy day!” – Winnie

 

Under a mute sky of blazing light; Winnie, sunk to her waist in a mound of sand, and her husband Willie, mostly immobile in a cave behind her, attempt to cope with their doomed situation.

Winnie, “a bird with oil on her feathers“, as Beckett once described her, is woken by a bell “piercingly sharp like a knife“ that ignites her daily survival routine and quest to engage Willie with every aspect of it. Winnie‘s insatiable need for human connection and Willie’s unwillingness or inability to answer it, contribute to their “nec cum te and nec sine te” / “neither with you nor without you” bond, full of tragicomic moments, culminating in an ambiguous surprise once Winnie is neck-deep in the sand.

Happy Days first premiered in 1961 in New York and has since then unquestionably become a classic of the modern stage. In 2022, The Independent named it one of the 40 best plays of all time. More than six decades later, Beckett’s darkly comic vision of the apocalypse and the banality that comes after remains as timely as the day he wrote it.

Walter Asmus collaborated with Samuel Beckett on numerous theater and television productions from 1974 until the author’s death in 1989. He has directed all of Samuel Beckett’s plays internationally. His 1991 production of Waiting for Godot at Dublin’s Gate Theatre was revived multiple times, toured internationally until as late as 2008 and was accepted by critics and academics alike as “definitive”.

The role of Winnie is played by Berlin-based Irish actor Mary Kelly. Mary has performed extensively in Ireland, including at the Gate Theatre, and in Germany most regularly at English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center.

The role of Willie is played by Tomas Spencer, who began his career at ETB | IPAC in the early 2000s and has gone in to appear in numerous films and television programs, including The Last Station, Nymphomaniac and Passport To Freedom.

Photos:  ETB_Maureen Gleason (“Winnie”) / Rosie Condon (Mary Kelly) / Tim Dobrovolny (Tomas Spencer)

Æffective Choreography

How does your body feel today?

In this time of velocity and violence, choreographer and performer André Uerba explores intimacy as a practice of being together, along with seven performers and a musician. This work plays with the boundaries between sharing and withdrawing, movement and stillness, vulnerability and exposure.

The performers structure their encounter through a slow pace, propelling their bodies to attune, sink and merge together, refining their present moment. The desire to make hidden things visible is unfolded by their intimate gestures. Collectively they turn their gaze to inner landscapes where slowness and touch become a main practice.

In English

Please note that this production contains nudity.

Innervoice-Dot-RU

This participatory documentary performance is about the boundaries of personality in terms of dictatorship and repressive state politics.

It is based on the statements of citizens who have remained in Russia, who are against the regime and the war and who continue their resistance from the inside. The audience plays an active role in the performance: using the instructions, they affect the dramaturgy of action to a certain extent. Together with the performer, they create the space for co-existing and togetherness in a collective reflection of how it is to live inside a dictatorship with aggressive internal and external policies.

Girevik

In Girevik, a man embarks on a physical exchange with iron weights.

Responding to the objects’ proposals requires him to push his body to the edge of its physical abilities. The artist travels through a territory defined by obstacles, constantly at the risk of reaching a dead end. Confronted with his vulnerability, he labors to keep the cast-iron bodies moving. Precisely, gently, sincerely, he rearranges the heavy piles again and again. His fragile play interlaces stillness with collapse and order with chaos. The result is a slowly unfolding composition, full of noise, sweat, and tangible tension built through the artist’s physical and emotional effort.

Girevik muscles in on the domain of the traditional “strongman “archetype, and wrestles it to submission. Deconstructed, strength is unburdened of stereotypes. This work explores what is strong, and what strong is, in our nature, and explores the subtleties, revealing emotional, intellectual, and psychological dimensions.

The piece challenges the historically hyper-masculine aura around the kettlebell and seeks an alternative poetics of labor.

Without language

Retina Maneuver

“She′s living in a world and it’s on fire
Filled with catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away”

Retina Maneuver is a solo lecture-performance that theater maker Ping-Hsiang Wang is currently developing. The performance originates from his unexplainable obsession with Alicia Keys’s pop song “Girl On Fire.” Frustration over not remembering where he was when the song was released in 2012 drives him to delve into his digital archives. Ultimately, Wang stumbles upon a photo accidentally uploaded to his Facebook page and finds himself in a military setting, passionately engaged in bayonet drills and shouting the command “kill.”

When “Girl on Fire” is no longer just a chart-topper but a marching tune for soldiers going into battle, he wonders, will these fragile memories be annihilated by the fire of war?

 

In English

TRICKS FOR GOLD (T4$)

Tricks For Gold is a fable set in late capitalism in which the protagonist, a magician, discovers that she can become the object of her desires – money – and tries to transform herself into it.

The performance studies the concept of trick and its ability to manipulate our experience of space and time through layers of virtuosity, exposure, contortion, concealment, self-assurance and vulnerability. The wish is to unravel the empathic potential of what is typically seen as an act of “service” and highlight the melancholia of tricks as not simply a mode of deceiving the audience – but also of the survival of the performer.

With very little spoken language (English)

Cynthia

Cynthia was a model, an influencer, a socialite, a celebrity and a household name in the USA in 1933.

But unlike other celebrities of her day, she got dismantled into pieces at the end of her day and stowed away in a body bag. Cynthia was a mannequin. Her creator, Lester Gaba, a window display designer in New York City, became her manager, puppeteer, and chaperone, taking her to dinner clubs, theater premieres and fashion shows, and performing for her and answering for her to her adoring fans.

Let this duet between Berlin drag king Alexander Cameltoe as Lester Gaba and a puppet version of himself as Cynthia, take you down the slippery slope from entertaining spectacle into the uncanny valley.

The play will be then performed at House of Yes in New York City in April.

In English

Pleasure Incorporated

What if sex workers could get drunk at the office Christmas party?

Had colleagues they could gossip with? Went to performance reviews with their managers? Pleasure Incorporated asks what it would be like if the oldest profession in the world was just a regular office job.

Drawn from Jemima’s experience of escorting in Berlin, this lyrical one-woman play fuses live performance with video art to explore Jemima’s personal motivations for selling sex; what it means for her to do the work, and how that spools out into friendships, relationships and society.

Welcome to Pleasure Incorporated. We’re happy to have you here with us on another fine work day.

In English

Bypass Portal

Bypass Portal explores the complex interplay of human behavior, the sensation of being observed, censorship and disruptions across various settings.

While examining the nuances of existence within space and crafting strategies for survival, the performance scrutinizes the ongoing influence and potential threats posed by powerful political forces on our lives, regardless of our location. Simultaneously, it invites the possibility of envisioning alternative ways of being—whether alone, together, or somewhere in between.

In English, Farsi and Spanish

Play Bow

Play Bow utilizes a blend of street and contemporary dance, an original electronics and strings composition, voice and costumes informed by Jung’s theory of the animal self to build a moving metaphor of canine play behavior.

We draw parallels between human and canine social roles and explore how they are revealed in human relationships – especially during courting rituals. At times, the piece is set in an electronic music club, where we celebrate, search for a lover and express social dominance / submission.

Ken Christianson (composer) and Sami Giron (choreographer) have been collaborating since 2005, when they met at California Institute
of the Arts while earning their Master’s degrees.

With very little spoken language (English)