• 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
Schumacher Jr lives up to his name
Schumacher Jr is too young to drink any of that champagne. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr lives up to his name

Mick Schumacher Jr did his famous father proud on his Formula Four debut on Saturday by claiming a trophy as the best rookie and finishing ninth, despite starting 19th. READ  

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank
Deutsche Bank acquired Postbank in 2008. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank announced late Friday it was seeking to sell its Postbank subsidiary as part of a revamp to improve profitability. READ  

Far left activists attack immigration office
Photo: DPA

Far left activists attack immigration office

Far-left extremists attacked an immigration office in Leipzig early on Friday morning. It was the second targeted attack on an official building in the city in recent months. READ  

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that calling Armenian massacres genocide risks belittling the Holocaust, after President Joachim Gauck broke a taboo by using the word on Thursday. READ  

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career
Mick Schumacher on test day earlier in April. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career

Michael Schumacher's 16-year-old son starts his Formula Four career this weekend, under the pressure of living up to the famous family name of the seven-time Formula One world champion. READ  

Property of the week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Mr Lodge

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

A highly sought-after location, great connection to public transport, and a very stylish interior – Does that sound good to you? Then you’ll love this week’s property! READ  

Germany's most polluted cities
The sun rises behind a coal-burning power station in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Germany's most polluted cities

The Federal Environment Ministry has named the most polluted places around the country, with Stuttgart claiming the undesirable title of Germany's most polluted city. READ  

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets
Edda Göring photographed in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets

The Bavarian government rejected on Thursday an attempt by Hermann Göring's daughter to win back her father's assets, which the government seized in 1948. READ  

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow
Tugce Albayrak's death shocked Germany. Photo:DPA

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow

When 22-year-old Tugce Albayrak was fatally beaten in a MacDonald's car park in November 2014, Germany was left in a state of shock. On the first day of her attacker's trial he admits to 'boxing her on the ear.' READ  

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US
Gerhard Schindler, head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. Photo: DPA

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US

Federal prosecutors have asked for access on files from the Bundestag (German parliament) inquiry into mass surveillance, after news that German spies helped the US eavesdrop on European leaders and businesses. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
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
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?
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

7,216
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd