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This month at the Berliner Ensemble…

The new season of Berliner Ensemble under Oliver Reese begins in earnest with four new productions, featuring adaptations of Albert Camus and Bertolt Brecht as well as "Eine Familie" from Tracy Letts.

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Penthesilea. Photo courtesy of Berliner Ensemble

Constanze Becker is one of the top actors Oliver Reese took to Berlin with him when he left Frankfurt, and she’s starting the season with two tremendous roles: Caligula, in Camus’ play by the same name, and another play’s eponymous hero, Kleist’s Penthesilea. Renowned director Michael Thalheimer directed the Penthesilea production, much praised when it opened in Frankfurt for the clever streamlining of a text its author claimed was unstageable. Caligula, directed by award-winning director Antú Romero Nunes, is the first premiere of Reese’s season. Seeing Becker flip from Amazon warrior queen to amoral Roman emperor should be highly entertaining – and one of those unusual experiences that the German repertory system thrives upon.

Caligula Oct 1-2, 10, 17-18, 25, 29, 19:30; Penthesilea Oct 14, 19:30; 15, 16:00

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Matthias Horn

Thalheimer is also directing Caucasian Chalk Circle, the first play Brecht staged with his Berliner Ensemble after it moved into the theatre at Schiffbauerdamm in 1954. Written while Brecht was in exile in the USA, its play within a play tells the Solomonic story of peasant girl Grusha’s struggle to raise and keep Michael, lost by his mother during a coup, even as the mother returns to reclaim him.

Oct 6-7, 11-12, 31, 19:30; workshop on Oct 6, 17:00

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Eine Familie. Photo by Birgit Hupfeld

Eine Familie is the German title for Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008 and was made into a film with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in 2013. The production, directed by Reese, is another one imported from Frankfurt, where the production earned mixed reviews for the text but praise for the ensemble.

Premieres Oct 5 (19:30), Oct 8 (16:00), 27-28 (19:30)