• Stage
  • Theatertreffen: No German? No problem!


Theatertreffen: No German? No problem!

Five of this year’s Theatertreffen productions have English surtitles (and two others are fairly easy to understand). Here's our quick and easy guide of the Anglo-accessible.

Image for Theatertreffen: No German? No problem!
Photo by R. Arnold

Five of this year’s productions have English surtitles (and two others are fairly easy to understand).

Legendary director Michael Thalheimer’s production of Medea (May 3-4, 19:30, Haus der Berliner Festspiele) from Frankfurt opens the fun with a promising cast that includes actress Constanze Becker in the title role. Thalheimer stages the Greek tragedy free of contemporary clichés, and Becker endows her performance with an epic scope that earned her the Gertrud-Eysoldt-Ring prize for outstanding achievement in acting.

Novelist Hans Fallada’s Nazi resistance drama Every Man Dies Alone (May 6-7, 19:00, HBF) from 1946 has become a favourite for theatrical adaptations. As directed by Luk Perceval (ex-Schaubühne), the production from Theatertreffen regular Thalia Theater in Hamburg creates a vivid world that questions the all-too-comfortable position of moral relativism.

French choreographer Jerome Bel’s Disabled Theater (May 10, 20:00, May 11-12, 17:00, HAU 1) might be this year’s most controversial selection. It’s a simple concept: the Swiss German ensemble Theater Hora – a company of actors with various mental handicaps – present themselves and some pretty inspiring dance solos. Bel’s assistant translates and explains in English where necessary. A symposium called “Disabled people on stage – artists or exhibits?” will follow the performances (May 13, 14:00, HBF).

Rounding out the surtitled per formances are a five-hour version of War and Peace (May 8, 19:00, May 9, 16:00, Volksbühne) co-produced by the Ruhrfestspiele and Centraltheater Leipzig and a production of Elfride Jelinek’s The City The Street The Raid (May 9-10, 19:30, HBF) from Munich, which marks the 10th time a work from the notorious Austrian author has been invited.

Of the non-surtitled selections, two have very little text: British director Katie Mitchell’s cinematic Night Train (May 11, 20:30, May 12, 16:00, 20:30, Radialsystem V) and Volksbühne director Herbert Fritsch’s Murmel Murmel (May 5, 19:30, May 12, 20:00, Volksbühne), with the dialogue consisting only of spoken/exclaimed/whispered variations on the title word.

German-language productions of Brecht’s Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe from Zurich, Gerhart Hauptmann’s Die Ratten and Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus steigt herab (see interviews) make up the rest of this year’s invitees.