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What’s on at Berlin theatres this month?

What are the best plays showing at Berlin theatres this month? Our stage editor compiles some highlights.

Nora oder wie man das Herrenhaus kompostiert (Nora, or how one dismantles the master’s house). Photo: © Jasmin Schuller

Don’t let springtime nature seduce you. There’s abundance to be found on Berlin’s stages too. Here’s a roundup of some April’s exciting productions:

William Forsythe

SBB Approximate Sonata 2016, Cohen Aitchison-Dugas, Weronika Frodyma. Photo Yan Revazov

Witness dancing joy on the stage in the Staatsballet’s performance of this trio of pieces developed by the groundbreaking choreographer William Forsythe; especially notable is his Blake Works I, which, set to the otherworldly music of James Blake, realises an ecstatic modern ballet.  

  • Deutsche Oper, April 1, 6, 9, no language, details.

Happy Days

Happy Days, Mary Kelly at Winnie. Photo: Maureen Gleason

Samuel Beckett’s former collaborator Walter D. Asmus directs the Irish author’s classic tragicomedy of a couple doomed to death. Winnie and Willie are stranded, Willie barely responds to Winnie, and yet, Winnie, even buried to her neck, continues to repeat, “oh this is a happy day.”

  • English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center, April 3-6, English subtitles, details.

Nora oder wie man das Herrenhaus kompostiert (Nora, or how one dismantles the master’s house)

Ensemble shot. Photo: Jasmin Schuller

Under Anica Tomić’s direction, Sivan Ben Yishai’s reimagining of A Doll’s House tears open Henrik Ibsen’s canonical exploration of female despair to reckon with the house’s real foundation—and all that Ibsen overlooked.

  • Deutsches Theatre, April 4, 5, 11, 30, German with English surtitles, details.

Romaday

Photo: Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Follow the Romaday Parade that begins at the Tiergarten’s Memorial to the Murdered Sinti and Roma of Europe to the Volksbühne, where Mahala Raï Banda and Mal Élevé & friends will be on the main stage commemorating International Roma Day.

  • Volksbühne, April 8, no language, details.

Bird Dances

Photo: © Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė

Kareth Schaffer // Construction Company’s dance piece, emerging from a birdwatching community project in Uecker-Randow, reconceives our geopolitical reality—particularly issues of migration—by taking a bird’s eye view in four dance pieces.

  • Sophiensaele, April 11-14, details.

Die Schmutzigen Hände

Photo: Berliner Ensemble

Condensing the original text to create a less deliberative and more dramatic theatre piece, Mateja Koležnik’s daring staging attempts to externalise Jean Paul Sartre’s inner psychodrama about political commitment and assassination.

  • Berliner Ensemble, April 13-14, German with English surtitles, details.

The Flight of the Canaries

Photo: Ballhaus Naunynstrasse

Bishop Black, most recently seen as an otherworldly force of seduction in Bruce Le Bruce’s The Visitor at the Berlinale, directs this exploration of black masculinity and sexuality, which draws on drag and burlesque in its attempt to imagine something beyond the Western episteme shaped by colonialism.

  • Ballhaus Naunynstraße, April 13, 15-16, German with English surtitles, details.

Iza Hawa

Photo: Carl Halal

The globe-touring, Beirut-based dancemaker Ali Chahrour visits Berlin as part of

HAU’s “Love is a Verb” Festival, offering a love letter to his city with this dance between a legendary couple of the Lebanese stage. 

  • HAU, April 17-18, Arabic with English surtitles, details.

The Confessions

Photo: © Christophe Raynaud de Lage

The FIND Festival’s Artist-in-Focus, Alexander Zeldin, has his German premiere of this play—which he discusses as a kind of autofiction and has been a hit in London—about a mid-century Australian woman, based on his mother, trying to control her own destiny.

  • Schaubühne, April 18-20, English, details.

Elbogen

Photo: Aysima Ergün © Esra Rotthoff

Fatma Aydemir‘s her first novel, Elbows, the tale of a German teenager of Turkish descent who flees Germany for an Istanbul that is foreign to her, comes to the stage under the guidance of Studio Я leader Murat Dikenci, whose Yahya Hassan was one of my favorite pieces of the season.

  • Studio Я, April 18, 25, German with English surtitles, details.

Not One of These People

Photo: © Charla Chable de la Héronnière

The intense, experimental British playwright Martin Crimp tackles the question of representation head on in this performance where he reads dialogue for 299 AI-generated faces.

  • Schaubühne, April 23, 24, English, details.

Intermezzo

Photo: Motiv, Stan Hema

Tobias Kratzer, a German opera director having a moment, brings Richard Strauss’s modern comedy of 1924—a reflection on the fracture lines of his own marriage—to the Deutsche Oper’s stage as an exploration of patriarchal narcissism.

  • Deutsche Oper, April 25, 28, German with English surtitles, details.