• Germany edition
 
Theatre makes a drama out of national identity
Photo: Jonathan Naman

Theatre makes a drama out of national identity

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Real fur Knut on display in Berlin museum
Knut's new home in Berlin's Natural History Museum. Photo: DPA

Real fur Knut on display in Berlin museum

Germany’s favourite polar bear Knut is set to pull in the crowds again - but this time from a display case. More than three years after his death, his real fur has been used to create a new Knut for a museum exhibition. READ  

And the winner of the EU single market is...
German incomes are higher thanks to the EU. Photo: DPA

And the winner of the EU single market is...

Germany and Denmark came out as the winners of the European Union's single market in a study released on Monday. Integrating economically with its neighbours has helped the German economy grow an average of €37 billion a year since 1992. READ  

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats
Police check the outside of a synagogue in Wuppertal for evidence of arson on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats

A wave of anti-Semitism in Germany, unleashed by the Gaza crisis, shows no sign of abating. A synagogue was attacked on Tuesday morning, a rabbi received death threats and anti-Jewish comments online have increased. Attacks on mosques have also risen. READ  

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight
Photo: DPA

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight

Top Swiss bank UBS settled a long-running legal dispute with Germany on Tuesday by agreeing to pay a fine of €300 million. Germany suspects UBS of having helped account holders hide millions from the taxman. READ  

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west
Münster was one of the areas worst hit by Monday night's heavy rain. Photo: DPA

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west

UPDATE: A man drowned in his cellar on Monday night as heavy rain battered parts of north-western Germany. A second man died when he tried to drive through a flooded street. The emergency services were in places overwhelmed by hundreds of calls. There are further weather warnings in place for Tuesday. READ  

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions
Merkel has finally lost patience with Putin. Photo: DPA

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions

The EU is set to agree a raft of new wide-ranging sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, after Germany changed its stance on upping the economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis. READ  

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine
Professor Andreas Fath, 49, in training along the Rhine in Baden-Württemberg in June. Photo: DPA

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine

German chemistry professor Andreas Fath started on Monday a gruelling four-week solo swim down the Rhine river for the benefit of science and the environment. READ  

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?
Markus Rehm became German champion on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?

Paralympics gold medallist Markus Rehm triumphed over his non-disabled rivals on Saturday, winning the German long jump championship. But athletics officials are now reviewing whether his prosthetic leg gave him an unfair advantage. READ  

Woodcarving champions - in pictures
Photo: DPA

Woodcarving champions - in pictures

Chainsaws, wood planes and sand paper were out over the weekend in Saxony-Anhalt where more than 30 artists competed in the International Woodcarving Championships. READ  

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor
Liberian health workers in protective clothing bury an Ebola victim in early July. Photo: DPA

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor

UPDATE: A doctor infected with the deadly Ebola virus while trying to help stop it spreading through West Africa could travel to a Hamburg clinic for treatment. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,218
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd