• Germany's news in English
 

Theatre makes a drama out of national identity

Published: 22 Feb 2013 17:08 GMT+01:00

On a cold and snowy winter morning, about ten people are standing in a circle on a planked wooden floor and grunting with the fake effort they're putting into climbing imaginary ropes that hang above them.

But this isn't a preparation course for surviving in the wild – this is a technique to 'wake up' and be alert for a workshop on national and personal identity.

The participants are foreigners who have chosen Berlin to be their home. They've come to take part in the English Theatre Berlin's Expat Expo, a two-week festival featuring performances and workshops by some of the city's international artists.

The workshop was organized by Minna Partanen from the English Theatre and Anna-Sofia Sysser, who is involved in contemporary theatre.

"We wanted to create a workshop that addresses the question of being an expat. We wanted to explore this in terms of national and personal identity – how living abroad affects the identity and whether there are some common experiences or whether the experiences are individual to each person," said Minna Partanen.

Daniel Brunet, who joined the English Theatre as producing artistic director only a few months ago, said the Expat Expo is the theatre's first step re-launching itself as Berlin's premier international performing arts centre.

"The idea was to position English Theatre Berlin as the home of international expatriate art using English as the common denominator linguistically," he told The Local.

The audience response has been top notch, said Brunet. And for many of the workshop participants, the Expat Expo was the first they've heard of the English Theatre Berlin. Vinski Ratalahti, a Finnish student who moved to Berlin about six months ago, said that much of Berlin is "too German-centric" for his taste.

"I had been missing something like this in Berlin. There should be more theatre in other languages," he added.

The English Theatre Berlin is one of the cultural institutions which will be acutely affected if the city government upholds its decision to cut state funds to smaller theatres starting next year.

An American performance artist and writer going by the stage name Harvey Rabbit, said she found cutting off of state funds "really atrocious."

"I think English Theatre Berlin really does provide a very important service to English speakers who want to see theatre. It's very important and I hope it survives. I don't know where else I'm going to go with my work," she said, adding she will be a doing burlesque clown act for the Expat Expo on 28th February called ShameNoShame!

Besides offering workshops in the day and a variety of performances in the evenings, a big highlight of the Expat Expo is also the weekend long Expat Markt, which is a 'marketplace cum performance installation'. There will be 54 tables in all with goods like jewellery and clothing and a range of entertainers and performers. There will also be businesses offering services exclusively for expats.

For Brunet, it is also a way to address a deeper issue – the dichotomy between first-world expats and other immigrants.

"So-called expats receive preferential treatment based on their national origins. If they speak English, they can find a way to get by without learning German, whereas people from Africa or Turkey start at the bottom of the society, they're made to go to integration classes and so on," he explained.

The team at the English theatre Berlin plans to make the Expat Expo an annual event, with the next one being planned for the summer of 2014. But without the state funding, said Brunet, the nearly 25-year-old theatre could be forced to close.

"By the end of this month, we will know if we will be getting the funding for next year or not," he said. "But we believe we have a strong and healthy future. We know that Berlin needs an international performing centre and we know that we can contribute to it."

The proceeds from the Expat Expo will go in entirety to the artists.

Upcoming events include 'Performance Night' on 28th February, where 10 different pieces will take place in the building and "Comedy in English" on 1st March organized by Comedy in Berlin and featuring English speaking stand up comedians from Berlin.

English Theatre Berlin and The Local have two pairs of Expo passes to give away. Email The English Theatre Berlin to enter: info@etberlin.de

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hurricane Niklas
Storm Niklas kills one, shuts down trains
This train in Lower Saxony had to stop after striking a fallen tree. Photo: DPA

Storm Niklas kills one, shuts down trains

Hurricane “Niklas” has reportedly claimed its first victim, near Magdeburg. Also, no regional trains are running in North Rhine-Westphalia as the storm rages across Germany. READ  

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams
Photo: DPA

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams

GPS company TomTom released data on Tuesday showing which cities have the worst traffic problems. The conclusion: Stuttgart is Germany's worst city for commuters. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration

Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration

Germany's national airline Lufthansa announced on Tuesday that it would cancel celebrations for the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1955. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

The president of Germany's Council of Psychotherapists said on Tuesday that there was no reason why the country should loosen its rules on doctor-patient confidentiality in the wake of the Germanwings crash. READ  

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece. READ  

Unemployment at new post-unification low
Photo: DPA

Unemployment at new post-unification low

German unemployment fell in March to the lowest level since the country reunited in 1990 as growth in Europe's biggest economy continues to pick up, official data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'
A Trabant being converted into an E-car. Photo: DPA

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'

Its chuntering motor and belching exhaust once heralded the coming of the communist utopia. Now the east German 'Trabi' is leading a new revolution, and this time you won't hear it coming. READ  

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles
A German soldier aims a G36 rifle. Photo: DPA

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles

Update: Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch denied on Monday evening that the G36 rifles it supplied to the Bundeswehr (German army) lose their accuracy when they are too hot. READ  

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones
An American Reaper drone. Photo: DPA

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones

Germany, France and Italy plan to push forward with plans for a European-made military drone, the German government told MPs on Monday. READ  

Energy prices drive return to inflation
Photo: DPA

Energy prices drive return to inflation

Inflation in Germany crept higher in March, driven by rebounding energy prices, preliminary data showed on Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,039
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd