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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.

Aysima Ergün in Ellbogen. Photo: © Ute Langkafel

Revolution and pollen might be in the air—but energising ideas and provocative beauty are flourishing in the theatres too. Theatertreffen’s yearly plenty only complements the cornucopia of delights you can find this month on Berlin’s stages.

The Silence

The Silence, Photo: © Gianmarco Bresadola, 2023 

Dimitrij Schaad transforms into the play’s actual writer and director Falk Richter in this novelistic monologue that reflects on the playwright’s familial and personal history with The Silence — everything that was not discussed in Richter’s childhood outside of Hamburg, including his developing identity as a gay man. Chosen for Theatertreffen.   

Unser Deutschlandmärchen

Photo: Ute Langkafel

Hakan Savaş Mican’s moving musical about the queer son of working-class Turkish immigrants, who wants a life beyond the factory, features astounding performances from Sesede Terziyan and Taner Şahintürk as mother and son who are trying to work out an image of the titular “German Fairytale.”

  • Maxim Gorki Theatre, German with English surtitles, June 5 & 14, July 6, details.

Ellbogen

© Ute Langkafel

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

  • Studio Я, German with English surtitles, May 2 & 13, details.

Overture

Photo: Serghei Gherciu

A doubleheader of modern dance from artist-in-residence Marcos Morau, whose experimental Overture headlines, and Crystal Pite, who danced in William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt and presents here her Angels’ Atlas—originally choreographed for the National Ballet of Canada in 2020.

  • Staatsballett, May 3, 5, 18, 24 – 25, details.

Der Schimmelreiter / Hauke Haiens Tod

Mareike Beykirch. Photo: Armin Smailovic

A co-production of DT and RambaZamba Theatre, an inclusive theatre group, featuring actors with and without disabilities, this fascinating combination of the 1888 novel, The Grey Rider by Theodor Storm and the 2001 re-imagining, The Death of Hauke Haien by Andrea Paluch and the current Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, Jan-Chrisoph Gockel promises a timely meditation on deciphering deadly natural disaster.

  • Deutsches Theater, German with English surtitles, May 7, 13, 18 – 19, details.

Riesenhaft in MittelerdeTM

Photo: Philip Frowein

An enormous multi-discipline staging of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings by the Schauspielhaus Zurich’s directorial team of Nicolas Stemann, Stephan Stock, Florian Loycke and Der Cora Frost, A Journey to Middle EarthTM reflects critically on the desires bound up with the fantasy epic. Chosen for Theatertreffen.

  • Haus der Berliner Festspiele, German with English surtitles, May 7 – 8, details.

Spielerfrauen

Gabriel Schneider, Sina Martens. Photo: Jörg Brüggemann.

Lena Brasch and Sina Martens follow up It’s Britney, Bitch! with this two-person piece, featuring Martens and Gabriel Schneider, Spielerfrauen (Player Wives), which confronts the patriarchy in pop culture—this time as playing out in football and toxic relationships.

  • Berliner Ensemble, German (with English surtitles on May 19), May 9 – 10, 18 – 20, details.

Das Leben Ein Traum

Photo: © Gordon Welters

Clemens Maria Schönborn conjures the Spanish golden age and Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s baroque Life is a Dream with a stylish ensemble of Sophie Rois, Uwe Dag Berlin, Margarita Breikeiz, Kerstin Graßmann and Silvia Rieger.

  • Volksbühne, English with German surtitles, May 10, details.

Four Non Blondes

Photo: © Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė

Inspired by Claudia Rankine’s essay on “Blondness,” Company Christoph Winkler intervenes in contemporary discourse about race and whiteness by featuring four non-blonde performers exploring the cultural history of blondness and their personal history with it.

  • Sophiensaele, May 16 – 19, details.

Macbeth

Photo: Armin Smailovic

In this Schauspielhaus Bochum production, Koen Tachelet treats Macbeth as a comedy á la the Theatre of the Absurd avant la lettre—seemingly more unbelievable than Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane.

  • Haus der Berliner Festspiele, German with English surtitles, May 18 – 19, details.

Bouncing Narratives

Photo: David Levene

Roza Moshtagi explores trauma through trampolining—bouncing back has never been so literal—as part of the Tanzpol festival. The audience spectates from soft cushions in this experience that seeks to create a “heterotopian space for the alienated body.”

  • Uferstudios, May 27 and 28, details.

THE WORK

Photo: © Thomas Aurin

The theatre and art-making duo Susanne Kennedy and Markus Selg complete their trilogy of Angela (a strange loop) and Jessica—an Incarnation with this personal reflection about an artist on the verge of death, thinking back on her life and art as she prepares for the end (or is it a beginning?).

  • Volksbühne, English with German surtitles, May 30, details.