etb English
Theatre
Berlin
International Performing Arts Center




Blog Archive

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.

Noraland

“The door to the street slammed shut.”

When Nora left her husband and children to pursue her independence, freeing herself from the doll’s house society placed her in, the door slammed so hard it was heard around the world. 1879, also the year in which the incandescent light bulb entered mass production, witnessed the beginning of a debate about individualism, freedom and self-empowerment that is still being conducted today, 140 years later.

After nearly one-and-half centuries, what has changed? Can this prototypical tale of female emancipation be applied to other demographic groups in the 21st century? What role can Henrik Ibsen’s classic play perform in contemporary society? How can it remain as vital as it was in the 19th century without collapsing into clichés and empty proclamations?

A trio of male performers visits a new country, Noraland, putting on Nora’s words like festive dresses, trying to fill her shoes in a heroic yet ridiculous attempt to follow in those (in)famous footsteps.

Status (Chris Thorpe, UK)

We all have a nationality.

Or almost all of us.

Status is a show about someone who doesn’t want his any more. About running away from the national story you’re given. About who is responsible
for that story and what might happen to it if you give it up.

A globe-spanning journey of attempted escape, with songs along the way.

Directed by Rachel Chavkin who won a Tony award 2019 for Best Director of the Broadway musical Hadestown.

“… the words are eloquent, the music essential and powerful, and the performance full of a brilliant, prowling precision…”

Scotsman Fringe First Award Winner 2018

★★★★ Guardian ★★★★Time Out ★★★★The Scotsman★★★★The Stage

“With its magical-realist twists, the show has the strange pull of a Haruki Murakami novel, a dense and provocative barrage of reflections on a world in flux and our place within it.” Guardian
“As ever with Chris Thorpe, the words are eloquent, the music essential and powerful, and the performance full of a brilliant, prowling precision…” Scotsman
“…a searching, meticulously crafted, beautifully written piece, full of fragile conclusions about nationhood and privilege.” The Stage
“Status is a sophisticated, hugely confident show, meticulously crafted in Thorpe’s bracing monologue and directed with assurance and remarkable insight by Rachel Chavkin…” ArtsDesk
“…a scintillating, rigorous critique of something we often take for granted” Fest Mag
“Thorpe’s metaphysical road trip is grittily real, discomfortingly surreal, densely poetic” Edinburgh Reporter

Supported by the British Council, Goethe-Institut London, the Collaborative Touring Network and using public funding by the national lottery through Arts Council England.

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?

 

The Lab: Wer ist Medea?

Wer ist Medea?/ Who is Medea?/ Quem é Medeia?

How can we interpret a classic of dramatic literature in 2019? Why work with classics at all? Let’s go back…to the beginnings…and let’s start with a universally despised woman.

Wer ist Medea? is a music theater performance as well as a spoken word concert, manifesto, choreography, emotional rehearsal, a tragic monologue or maybe just an homage to all those women that are hated just because their stories were written by men.

This performance is the very first presentation of a work-in-progress, the first interaction with an audience. In between the many layers of performance, constructed upon the interpretations of a variety of authors, we work as archaeologists to understand and unearth Medea.

Who is Medea? The personification of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, a mother who kills her own children? Or the woman who sees her children being murdered by her enemies? The cruel and cold woman that betrayed her own father, the king, killed her brother and abandoned her own country in the name of love? Or a strong and independent woman that serves as an existential threat to patriarchal society? A woman blinded by her thirst of revenge or the victim of an ambitious and unscrupulous man? A mother that in a final act of love chooses to deliver her children to the embrace of death instead of leaving them in the hands of her cruel enemies?

Join us and find out.

An attempt to create a new dramaturgy inspired by the mythological character Medea, herself the subject of a myriad of different authors who wrote about her, reinvented her and imagined her, including Euripides, Heiner Müller, Christa Wolf, Chico Buarque and Paulo Pontes.

Performed in English, German and Portuguese

The Land of Milk(y) and Honey?

Israelis in Berlin

Following completely sold-out initial runs in the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019, we are very pleased to offer these six encore performances.

LIMITED SEATING: Please note that there are only 50 tickets available for each performance!

“I pity those who no longer remember the Holocaust and abandon Israel for a pudding.”

This statement, made by Yair Shamir, then Israeli Minister of Agriculture, to the Jerusalem Post in October of 2014, marked the climax of the so-called “Milky protest”. In a post that launched a thousand ships, the Facebook page Olim L’Berlin (Aliyah to Berlin) urged Israelis to move to Berlin due to a markedly cheaper cost of living. The primary evidence? Aldi’s Dessertcreme & Sahne, a dessert comparable to Milky, the dominant pudding brand in Israel, sold for less than a third of the price. This Facebook post received more than one million likes within four days and created headlines around the globe.

Nearly 75 years after the end of the Second World War, Berlin’s Israeli community is estimated to number in the tens of thousands and impossible to verify due to issues of multiple citizenship. Is Berlin truly this promised land of milk and honey?  Are people from Israel really immigrating here only because of the standard of living, nightlife and Berlin’s fabled cultural reputation? What about those Israelis who leave the country due to the current political climate? And what affects do 20th century history as well as multiple reports of rising antisemitism have on emigration from Israel to Germany?

Three Israeli performers explore these questions using verbatim text from 60 interviews with the widest possible spectrum of partners; Israelis with an active religious background, Israeli Arabs, highly politicized Israelis as well as Israelis who have absolutely no interest in politics.

The ID Festival is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Szloma-Albam Foundation and KIgA e.V. – Kreuzberger Initiative gegen Antisemitismus

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.

The Land of Milk(y) and Honey?

Israelis in Berlin

Special preview event on Sunday, October 14 at 6:00 pm at Radialsystem (Holzmarktstraße 33, 10243 Berlin), free admission

LIMITED SEATING: Please note that there are only 50 tickets available for each performance at etb | ipac

“I pity those who no longer remember the Holocaust and abandon Israel for a pudding.”

This statement, made by Yair Shamir, then Israeli Minister of Agriculture, to the Jerusalem Post in October of 2014, marked the climax of the so-called “Milky protest”. In a post that launched a thousand ships, the Facebook page Olim L’Berlin (Aliyah to Berlin) urged Israelis to move to Berlin due to a markedly cheaper cost of living. The primary evidence? Aldi’s Dessertcreme & Sahne, a dessert comparable to Milky, the dominant pudding brand in Israel, sold for less than a third of the price. This Facebook post received more than one million likes within four days and created headlines around the globe.

Nearly 75 years after the end of the Second World War, Berlin’s Israeli community is estimated to number in the tens of thousands and impossible to verify due to issues of multiple citizenship. Is Berlin truly this promised land of milk and honey?  Are people from Israel really immigrating here only because of the standard of living, nightlife and Berlin’s fabled cultural reputation? What about those Israelis who leave the country due to the current political climate? And what affects do 20th century history as well as multiple reports of rising antisemitism have on emigration from Israel to Germany?

Three Israeli performers explore these questions using verbatim text from 60 interviews with the widest possible spectrum of partners; Israelis with an active religious background, Israeli Arabs, highly politicized Israelis as well as Israelis who have absolutely no interest in politics.

The ID Festival is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Szloma-Albam Foundation and KIgA e.V. – Kreuzberger Initiative gegen Antisemitismus

THE LAB: FAILED EPIC

“This century will be American. American thought will dominate it. American deeds will give it direction.”

When these words were first published in John Dos Passos’ seminal trilogy of novels collectively titled U.S.A. (1930 – 1938), they were undoubtedly intended to arouse feelings of patriotism, pride and optimism. Today this sentiment has a much more menacing tone than when it was written. FAILED EPIC seeks to embrace the menace implied in Dos Passos’ nationalistic nostalgia by taking a forgotten mainstay of the American Literary Canon and deconstructing it in a contemporary “news show” context.

In the performance, apocalyptic headlines from the beginning of the 20th century are reported in real time, only to be interrupted with live interviews, pre-recorded human interest pieces, on-location reporting, talking-head analysis and other layers of media within media. As the overabundance of fictional and historical narratives start to accumulate, we begin to see a timely portrait of a nation on the verge of collapse, as ideological divisions, economic inequality, and impending war threaten to destroy it.

Following an international cast of performers, we walk through a global landscape of characters whose lives are determined by massive, unseen forces–economics, disease, addiction, precarious working conditions, prejudice and accidental death. In the face of injustice, these people dream of revolution. Anarchists, Marxists, Wobblies, Capitalists, Socialists, Feminists–all are waiting to witness the death of the status quo. In these untragic lives, we see our own, with a bluntness that shifts the focus from the details of the individual stories to the universal dissatisfaction experienced in all of them.

Not only is this picture of a world divided into ideological and economic tribes a contemporary one, but–like today’s amateur online pundits–the people in this dystopia do not suffer in silence. Media serves to aggravate divisions among already splintered populations, as everyone sources their talking points from the political movement of their choice. Likewise, the success or failure of these movements seems to hang entirely on the oratory abilities of their leaders, who hold wild, Trump-like rallies aimed at “stirring up” followers, who will serve as foot soldiers in a bloody war of ideas.

Dos Passos’ own role in this conflict is still unresolved, as many contemporary critics characterize U.S.A. as “a failed epic by a writer out of his depth.” The goal of this performance is not to restore the author’s reputation, but rather to use his novels as a way of engaging with the Pre-War zeitgeist. Unlike his contemporaries Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Dos Passos’ prose does not need to be unpacked or even admired. Instead, it simply needs to unfold like a Twitter feed or scrolling news crawl, as a seemingly endless series of shocking, strange, mundane, and compelling events accumulate, coalescing into a complex portrait of a democracy at a crossroads, with no clear consensus on which way to go next.

Followed by a post-performance discussion

Palmyra

By Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas (London)

The Best of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe at ETB | IPAC

Selected as one of The Guardian’s Top Ten Theatre Productions of 2017

“…a brilliant piece that reflects on Syria and the breakdown of relationships.” (★★★★ The Guardian)

Palmyra is an exploration of revenge, the politics of destruction and what we consider to be barbaric, inviting people to step back from the news and look at what lies beneath, and beyond, civilization.

★★★★★ “A thrilling tightrope walk of a show – tense yet cathartic, angry yet thoughtful. A five-star triumph.” – The To Do List
★★★★ “Weird, wonderful and strangely stressful.” – The Stage
★★★★ “It’s rare to see emerging artists with such a strong signature style … It’s a stressful watch, though, but sublime as well.” – Matt Trueman, What’s On Stage
“Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas have created a strong contender for “Best Piece of ‘Political Theatre,’ Edinburgh 2017. … Proper genius, this.” – Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods
★★★★ “The show’s focus on broader issues emerging from Syria is its great strength. Challenging the audience constantly on our role in the conflict from spectators to global influencers, the piece covers a great amount in under an hour… Unsettling.” – The Reviews Hub