The ladies are back

INTERVIEW. Author Sibylle Berg returns with her follow-up to the smash "Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen", "Und dann kam Mirna", again at Maxim Gorki. Catch her tough protagonists, just a bit older, starting Sep 24.

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Photo by Esra Rotthoff

Author and Spiegel columnist Sibylle Berg on her new play Und dann kam Mirna, opening this month at the Maxim Gorki.

Berg’s 2013 play, Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen, counts as one of the Gorki’s biggest triumphs since Shermin Langhoff’s takeover as director. From Berg’s incisive commentary on femininity to the hypnotic choreography to the buzzing energy of the four-member ensemble, it’s a vital, vibrant piece of theatre. Now the 53-year-old Berg – who was born in Weimar and now lives in Zurich – has written a sequel, Und dann kam Mirna. Here, the fierce young women from Es sagt mir nichts have reached their thirties, and homemade drugs and late-night brawls have given way to motherhood and divorce. With director Sebastian Nübling and choreographer Tabea Martin again on board, the play should be a highlight of the fall season.

Why did you want to write a follow-up to Es sagt mir nichts?

As Nübling, Tabea and I worked on Es sagt mir nichts, there arose the marvelous idea to create a lifelong series. With us as the team, and with the young women as the core group of actors. Until we all die. Mirna is now the second part of this never-ending series – God, ISIS and Gorki willing.

The new production has twice as many actors as Es sagt mir nichts. What kind of structure does it have?

It’s essentially a similar style of monologue. A monologue with protrusions and characters you can add or omit. There are no set roles.

Es sagt mir nichts is very musical, very rhythmic – the production has a strong, almost frenetic energy. What can the audience expect from Und dann kam Mirna?

I hope it progresses in a similar way. The text is structurally not very different and the themes are similar. It’s only that the women are a little bit older. It’s about das wunderbare Leben and how much it can get on your nerves.

What interested you about the mother-daughter relationship?

The question was, what kind of parents will the girls from part two become? With their pills, and with their anger at the system, at the world, at men. How will the child conceive of this punk-superhero mother? How and by what means can she distinguish herself from her mother?

You said you see this as an ongoing project. How do you see it developing?

That’s our hope, though of course it needs the involvement of the Gorki and a thousand other components. We found it so exciting to age together with the actresses. Simply to see what emerges, what problems crop up. We don’t have a 50-year plan, just the idea to stage a kind of soap.

Your texts are often described as cynical or merciless. Do you agree? Or how do you describe yourself?

I think this description sprang from cloyingly sentimentalised brains. Outside in the world, we have demonstrating Nazis, a strengthening of the right wing, Boko Haram, ISIS, a continent in mass migration, every day an estimated two million rapes. We have a government that’s the mere henchman of economic powers. And my texts are cynical? WTF.

UND DANN KAM MIRNA Sep 24, 20:30, Sep 25, 19:30 | Maxim Gorki Theater, Am Festungsgraben 2, Mitte, S+U-Bhf Friedrichstr.