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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)

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

Maryša (Is Silent)

This nonverbal production of a classic Czech drama about a woman in an arranged marriage, who turns to murder in her desperation, is an extraordinary piece that not only touches on womens’ issues, but also on the domestic tradition of the realist drama.

The story is told without words – making it all the more intense: bottomless abysses of desperation meet powerful eruptions of passionate emotions, with shocking brutality and profound humanity, all performed with a good measure of exaggeration.

In 2019, the production was nominated for the Divadelní noviny theatre magazine award and actor Andrea Berecková was a nominated for the Thalia Award.

The Trojan Women

A production in collaboration with Ukrainian women actors who sought refuge in the Czech Republic.

Critics have celebrated this production as the most meaningful comment on the war on Ukraine in the Czech Republic.

The stories of the great heroes of the Trojan War have been burnt into our memory – but we usually forget the women who survived it. What will happen once the war is over? And what will begin again? The characters of the Trojan women are played by Ukrainian actresses without men.

This modern adaptation of the classical tragedies by Euripides, The Trojan Women and Hecuba, directed by Jakub Čermák and featuring Ukrainian women who found temporary asylum in Czechia in the leading roles, places its focus not on the current military conflict but instead on the victims of war in general.

Rumors in the Shadows

Berlin International Youth Theatre takes a trip to the castle of Henry VIII in the year 1535, where the power of rumor can cost you your head.

In this era of the internet, it’s hard to believe that we are as just easily manipulated as we were centuries ago. Drowning in a sea of misinformation while the one percent call the shots.

Our story: While the sneaky servant observes everything, the king’s trusted page is sent to spread fake news to incriminate Queen Anne Boleyn. Her loyal fans don’t believe it and try to stop the rumors. Other rumors are circulating as well, the ladies-in-waiting are running scared, everyone knows King Henry is a sexual predator but no one dares to do anything about it. Still more rumors are spreading which question the king’s sanity. We all know how this ends for the queen but how does it end for the pawns?

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.

The Berlin Diaries

The great-grandfather of Oregon Book Award-winning playwright Andrea Stolowitz kept a journal for his descendants after escaping to New York City in 1939 as a German Jew.

Following the complicated lure of genealogy, Stolowitz goes back to Berlin to bring the story of her unknown ancestors out of the archives into the light. The record keeps as many secrets as it shares; how do people become verschollen, lost, like library books?

A limited number of free tickets have been reserved for secondary school student groups and their teachers. Please register as soon as possible by email at tickets@etberlin.de

This production is part of the 2023 Berlin Performing Arts Festival, May 31 to June 3, 2023 | paf.berlin

 

 

 

 

 

Complete funding for this production and the 2022 performances was generously provided by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

 

 

 

These additional performances in 2023 have been made possible thank to the Wiederaufnahmeförderung program of Fonds Darstellende Künste

 

 

 

Andrea Stolowitz is a German/American playwright currently living and working in Cork, Ireland. Her work embraces bold theatricality ranging from intimate portrayals of the human condition to the intersection of national history on private lives. Andrea is a member of New Dramatists class of 2026, an alumna of The Playwrights’ Center, and a collaborating writer with the internationally lauded devised theater company Hand2Mouth Theatre. Andrea is the Lacroute Playwright-in-Residence at Artists Repertory Theater. Andrea has taught at Duke University, NYU, UC-San Diego, Willamette University and NUI-Galway.

Voicemails for Sue

What price is worth paying in pursuit of a dream?
And at what point does that dream become a nightmare?
A struggling musician bets everything on a myth.
Until all he can do is run.

The Panel

The Panel is a talk show in the form of a staged reading in which five unique personalities engage in a heated, polarizing and humorous discussion about political conditions of the world.

These five guests turn a common and civilized conversation into the most unsuccessful debate in history.

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 is developing 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.