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October in Berlin theatre: It gets political

Shows are sold out and come with political messages. In this month’s roundup, our stage editor highlights the shows taking over the city’s theatres – and the lessons we can learn.

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At the Deutsches Theater throughout October, Hitler’s Goat and the King’s Haemorrhoids ponders whether or not Hitler’s penis was bitten off by a goat. Photo: Arno Declair

What’s the political power of theatres now that they can only allow a small audience into their auditoriums? How strong is the signal of this traditionally socially engaged art form under pandemic circumstances? Theatre-goers are likely looking either for answers to the many new questions or a really good, immersive distraction from the daunting state the world is in. And two things are for sure: Theatremakers themselves believe in the potential of their work, and the hunger for theatre seems stronger than the fear of catching the virus. Shows are sold out wherever one looks and a warm ‘happy to be back’ atmosphere makes up for the alienating restrictions.

In October, entertainment and political education will be offered in filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim’s Hitler’s Goat and the King’s Haemorrhoids at Deutsches Theater, a “wild and musical ride through German history” which will explore the mythical question of whether or not Hitler’s penis was bitten off by a goat. Rosa von Praunheim has already proven his talent for theatre with the hit show Jeder Idiot hat eine Oma, nur ich nicht, also at Deutsches Theater – original show effects and great emotions are practically guaranteed.

Maxim Gorki Theater also relies on big names and has hired one of the most famous German film actresses, Katja Riemann, for the world premiere of Sibylle Berg’s Und sicher ist mit mir die Welt verschwunden. Berg’s text will be brought to life by director Sebastian Nübling, who has just staged Kevin Rittberger’s Black Block as a strong demonstration of resistance from the left. For the 30th anniversary of German reunification, Gorki hosts a Tag der VerUnEinigung opening this year’s Days of the Jewish-Muslim, Yessidic-Catholic, Queer-Kabyle, Atheistic-Armenian Leitkultur. Behind the festival is writer Max Czollek, who has just published his second potential bestseller Gegenwartsbe-wältigung, a manifesto for an open society in a pluralist democracy. The video performance hosted by Gorki will feature, next to Czollek himself, Fatma Aydemir, Mely Kiyak, Sasha Marianna Salzmann and others.

Image for October in Berlin theatre: It gets political

Kevin Rittberger’s Black Block is a strong demonstration of resistance from the left. Photo: Ute Langkafel

From October 8 to November 1, Sophiensaele invites audiences to “negotiate the risky connections between resilience and vulnerability” in the performances, installations, walks, online workshops and lectures of the Risk and Resilience Festival. Premieres by Berlin-based artists Olympia Bukkakis and Simone Dede Ayivi and the international collective Flinn Works will explore the role of trans identities and drag practices in the current feminist discourse, visions of the future for families with a history of migration as well as the success story of the women’s quota in Rwanda.

Two theatres are opening their season a little later than the others and will finally be back this month: Ballhaus Naunynstraße has figured out a hygiene concept for its very small space and returns with a piece of doc-theatre on black masculinity by filmmaker Jasco Viefhues. The Schaubühne will reopen, equipped with a new A/C, with Milo Rau’s and Ursina Lardi’s Everywoman. Now, whichever way your antennae are pointed, move fast or try the box office last minute as tickets are going extra fast.

Hitler’s Goat and the King’s Haemorrhoids Oct 1-2, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 31 Deutsches Theater, Mitte

Und sicher ist mit mir die Welt verschwunden Oct 24-26, 31, with English surtitles Maxim Gorki Theater, Mitte

Tag der VerUnEinigung Oct 3 Maxim Gorki Theater, Mitte

Risk and Resilience Festival Oct 8 – Nov 1 Sophiensaele, Mitte

Everywoman Oct 15-17, 20-25, 27-31, with English surtitles on Oct 16, 20, 28 Schaubühne, Charlottenburg