November might be when Berlin’s winter unofficially starts: too dark and too cold to be on the street or in the park. So head to one—or why not all?—of Berlin’s many theatres, full of light and fascinating productions.
Here are some of the month’s theatrical highlights.
The Run: Refugee Rave
The dreams of refugees take centre stage at Ballhaus Prinzenallee in Anja Demidova’s hybrid production that is one-part storytelling exhibition, one-part dance performance, and one-part live-DJ set.
- Ballhaus Prinzenallee, Nov 1, 3, Ukrainian, Russian, English, Romanian and Italian with English subtitles, details
Der Teufel im Lift/The Devil in the Elevator
Wolfgang Katschner and Ansgar Weigner reimagine the choral work of Johann Sebastian Bach in this surreal work of musical theatre. Set in Hotel Heaven at five in the morning, three guests—a neurosurgeon, a seer, and a journalist—attempt to surmise the identity of a dead body in the elevator.
- Neuköllner Oper, Nov 2-5, German with Spanish and English subtitles, details
While History Writes Itself
What is the role of art amidst war and cruelty? After a ten-month conversation about this theme, playwrights from the post-Yugoslavian and post-Soviet regions will bring their work to the stage.
- Maxim Gorki Theater, Nov 3 and 4, German with English surtitles, details
How to F*** up the Revolution
Taiwain’s Uncertain Studio doesn’t merely present a story about revolution. With this participatory board game, the audience has to actively make choices to implement a vision of the future. Part of the Theater der Dinge International festival.
- Schaubude Berlin, Nov 6, In English, details
The Bald Soprano
The Theatre of the Absurd began when this Eugen Ionesco anti-play premiered in 1948. An evening dinner party of two couples—and Mary the maid (who believes herself to be a fireman)—provides the scenario for an incredible experience of the surreal. And Katrija Lehmann’s performance as Mary in this production from Schauspielhaus Graz has already been much feted.
- Deutsches Theater, Nov 8, 18, German with English surtitles, details
Under the direction of Roza Sarkisian and featuring a livestream of Antonina Romanova—a Ukranian queer artist and trans soldier—this variety show from Bliadski Circus Queelective, a queer circus collective, draws its inspiration from French director François Truffaut’s words: “there’s no such thing as an anti-war film.”
- Maxim Gorki Theatre, Nov 10, 11, English and Ukrainian with German surtitles, details
Weltall Erde Mensch
Alexander Eisenach’s labyrinthine trip across the galaxy is full of wormholes to get lost in and strange encounters with familiar science fiction tropes. Some its rich possibilities for play are lost, however, amidst its own insistent ponderousness.
- Deutsches Theater, Nov 12, 18, German with English surtitles, details
Present Body 2
This performance of improvised dance choreographed by Ricardo de Paula seeks to find in spontaneous movement the means to slip out of the oppressive structures of everyday life and establish, if only for a moment on the stage, a new collective relationship.
- English Theater, Nov 15-17, English/No Language, details
Complaint, A Lyric
Ligia Lewis marries conceptual sophistication and visual dynamism in her dance and performance art at this four-day retrospective. Across her work, she manages to integrate the literary and philosophical into her choreography with both profound and a sense of humour.
- Hebbel am Ufer, Nov 15-19, English/ No Language, details
In this performance Lies Pauwels collaborates with a trio of sex workers to contemplate its precarity. Love Boulevard explores questions of gender, social visibility, vulnerability, and the desires society allow to openly speak.
- Berliner Ensemble, Nov 17, 18, 19, German with English surtitles, details
Marc-Antoine Charpentier fashioned the compelling myth of burning love into this classic of opera. At this evening’s premiere, visionary director Peter Sellars brings out the contemporariness of the classic.
- Staatsoper unter den linden, Nov 19, French with German and English surtitles, details
Ophelia’s Got Talent
Florentina Holzinger’s blockbuster returns. The visceral, Dionysian performance might lose the plot but it compensates with a rich visual and corporeal vocabulary drawing from elements of art history, talent shows, dance, and show palace spectaculars.
- Volksbühne, Nov 1,2, 25 and 26, English and German, details
A Girl’s Story
Sarah Kohm directs this excellent adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s exercise in multidirectional memory in the re-excavation and examination of the violence of first sexual encounters. Veronika Bachfischer manages to bring the text’s complexity to life.
- Schaubühne, Nov 28 and 29, German with English and Romanian surtitles, details