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Why is Theatertreffen so exciting this year?

At this year's Theatertreffen (May 6-22), the best German plays come to English-speaking audiences this year, thanks to the power of surtitles.

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Opening play “And the Ship Sails On”. Photo by Matthias Horn

The two-week-long festival, held every May for the past 52 years, is a chance to see the German-speaking world’s best plays all in one city – and, this year, all with English surtitles!

Ten plays are invited from throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland, selected by a jury of critics who see an absolutely unholy number of plays all year and then duke it out to decide the top 10. It’s basically the highest honour a German play can receive.

The festival has the reputation of being a bastion for the old guard – but as you can see from the selections here, that’s not really true anymore. So for two weeks, there is a kind of overlooked slice of Berlin theatre somewhere between the Great and Serious directors and the truly experimental stuff. The tickets – which go like hotcakes – start at €18.50. 

Part of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele will turn into a “Camp”, a space for workshops, artists, discussions and lectures (and free yoga!). And there’s also a festival within a festival, Stückemarkt, with a focus on playwriting: five new performances and staged readings (including three in English!).

We’ll be camped out at the Theatertreffen Camp’s first focus weekend, “Arrival Cities,” with conversations on borders, immigration, and inclusivity. The whole shebang will be covered by seven intrepid bloggers bringing a fresh and critical eye to the proceedings – including yours truly, so come say hi.