The Maxim Gorki Theatre, "The Situation", 2018

Tour Dates: June 23 - July 5, 2018

They describe their theatre work as “post-migrant theatre”, that is theater in which someone's origin has no significance.

© Ute Langkafel MAIFOTO

Tour Dates
  • June 23 - July 5, 2018



"They describe their theatre work as 'post-migrant theatre', that is theater in which someone's origin has no significance. Yet the Gorki is nevertheless a place where experience, perception and discourse-products of the complex bundle of issues surrounding migration-may be discussed and reflected upon. And The Situation was chosen as play of the year."

- The Berlin Times

Programme: The Situation

© Ute Langkafel MAIFOTO

Anyone who wants to allude to the current political situation in the Middle East in Hebrew or Arabic speaks simply of »The Situation«. Over the past several years many people with roots in »The Situation« have ended up in Berlin, of all places, on their search for a new beginning. Approximately 30,000 Israelis have moved to the former »capital of the perpetrators«, an estimated 5,000 Syrians. Many of them live in Kreuzkölln, next door to long-established German Palestinians and Lebanese. Their families mostly didn't »move« fled here. What was previously separated by social and physical walls develops into a new Middle East in Berlin.

In her new devised piece, Yael Ronen and the participating actors, whose biographies are intertwined with the conflict in the Middle East, grapple with these paradoxical re-encounters with the »neighbours«. They are all connected by the fact that they recently came to Berlin because the reality in their countries offers little hope for a peaceful future. But as much as the desire to escape from »The Situation« unites them, the motivations for moving are different: war has been raging in Syria since 2011, and in Israel and Palestine the political and social climate has become increasingly militant. Rents in Tel Aviv are exploding and life is no longer affordable for those with an average income. Any attempt to criticise the policy of occupation and governmental positions is either ridiculed or branded as a betrayal. Over 1.7 million people in Israel belong to the Palestinian minority, but discrimination against them creates little opportunity for social participation. And in the West Bank, a fourth generation is now growing up under occupation.

The Situation dusts off the confused road map of the Middle East. The sand that trickles down tells stories of dispossession, disbelief and anger, but also of the search for a life beyond the wars in Berlin.

The Situation has been invited to the Theatertreffen 2016 in Berlin.

Director: Yael Ronen

© Milo Rau

Yael Ronen, in-house Gorki director, was born in Jerusalem in 1976. She comes from a theatre family and is internationally considered as one of the most exciting theatre makers of her generation. The greatest tool at her disposal is black humour in the framework of historical conflicts. Ronen’s play Third Generation, featuring German, Israeli and Palestinian actors, was invited to numerous festivals. Another of her productions Hakoah Wien, developed at Schauspielhaus Graz, was awarded the Austrian Nestroy theatre prize in 2013. She staged the world premiere of the adaptation of Olga Grjasnowa’s bestselling novel All Russians Love Birch Trees. Common Ground emerged as a meditation from Ronen and her actors on the aftermath of the war in former Yugoslavia. 2015 the play was invited to the reknowned Theatertreffen Festival at Berlin and won the audience award at Mülheimer Theatertage.

Ronen's production, The Situation, which she developed together with the six-actor ensemble, was premiered at the Maxim Gorki Theatre on 4 September 2015, and garnered her a second invitation to the Theatertreffen festival. The piece negotiates the political situation in the Middle East and was selected by the critics in the annual survey from the Theater heute journal as the play of the year in 2016. The Gorki opened its 2016/2017 season with her piece Denial, a project about personal and political repression. In addition, Ronen was awarded the Austrian Nestroy Prize for Lost and Found in the category Best Play – Author's Prize.

In 2017 she received a prize from the German centre of the International Theatre Institute within the framework of World Theatre Day, and directed the world premiere of Winterreise رحلة الشتاء with the newly founded Exil Ensemble at the Gorki. In the same year, she has also been awarded with the 14th Europe Prize for Theatrical Realities.

The Maxim Gorki Theatre

© Hiptruss

The Maxim Gorki Theatre, located in the Choral Academy on the boulevard Unter den Linden, is the smallest and most beautiful of Berlin’s ensemble theatres and also a historically significant building. Founded in 1952 as a theatre for contemporary productions, it became a Stadttheater (municipal theatre) for the citizens of East Berlin in the very best sense – it was both critical and dissident. In 1988, when Thomas Langhoff staged Volker Braun’s Übergangsgesellschaft (A Changing Society), the theatre prophetically anticipated the peaceful revolution of the 9th of November, 1989.

It was also the 9th of November, but in the year 1848, that the first freely elected Prussian national assembly was driven out of the city – the assembly had been working on a democratic constitution for Prussia in the Choral Academy. Spanning the period between these two events is the story of the fight for a democratically constituted, just and open society: from the declaration of a German Republic in 1918, the November pogroms of 1938 and the oppression and murder of the Jews, to the unification of the city and the country, leading ultimately to today‘s debates surrounding the future of Berlin as a diverse European metropolis.

Are we once again living in a society in transition? The question inevitably arises when we are faced with a permanent crisis in economy and politics, a crisis which results in even more severe social and cultural conflicts in our societies.

Contemporary plays, new interpretations of classical pieces and an interdisciplinary approach define the programme of the Gorki with its artistic directors Shermin Langhoff and Jens Hillje. The theatre is opening itself up to the city: with a young ensemble, with Studio Я who stages experimental productions and artist from all over the world and the theatre coaches of Gorki X, who all invite you to get involved. The Gorki is for the whole city, and that includes everyone who has arrived in the city in the last few decades, whether in search of asylum, whether in exile, whether they be immigrants or simply people who grew up in Berlin. We invite you all to a public space in which today’s human condition and our conflict of identity will be reflected through the art of making theatre and watching theatre, in order to contribute to a thorough and patient debate about living together in today’s diverse world. How have we become what we are? And who do we want to be in the future? In short: who is "we"?

In 2014 theatre critics in Germany, Austria and Switzerland elected the Gorki Theatre of the year.

Artistic Director: Shermin Langhoff

© Shermin Langhoff

Shermin Langhoff was born in 1969 in Bursa (Turkey) and moved to Germany when she was nine years old.  After many years in the film industry – where her projects included working with Fatih Akin on the film Gegen die Wand  – she served as a curator at Berlin's Hebbel am Ufer theatres (HAU) from 2004 to 2008. At HAU she founded the “Academy of Autodidacts”, which provided a platform for many artists in the second generation of German-Turkish immigrants. In 2006 her project series “Beyond Belonging” hosted productions on the theme of migration. The play Schwarze Jungfrauen, which she commissioned from Feridun Zaimoğlu, was invited to the Mühlheimer Theatertagen (Mühlheim Theatre Days) in 2007 as one of best contemporary German plays.

In 2008 Langhoff founded the post-migrant theatre Ballhaus Naunynstraße in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg.  In 2011 the Alfred Toepfer Foundation awarded Langhoff the European cultural prize KAIROS for her commitment to working as a cultural mentor. The Helga and Edzard Reuter Foundation honoured her extraordinary accomplishments in the field of international understanding and integration. She received the Moses Mendelssohn Prize from the Berlin government in 2012.

Langhoff is a member of the Council for Cultural Education in Germany and on the jury of the Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul. She has been artistic director of the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin since the 2013/14 season.

Artistic Co-Director and Chief Dramaturg: Jens Hillje

© Jens Hillje

Jens Hillje was born in 1968. He grew up in Italy and Bavaria, where he had his first experiences with revolutionary people's theatre. After studying applied arts in Perugia, Hildesheim and Berlin, he worked in the independent theatre scene as actor, author and director starting in 1990. He moved to Berlin in 1996 and, together with the director Thomas Ostermeier, founded the “Barracks” venue at the Deutsches Theatre, which was voted Theatre of the Year two years later. From 1999 to 2009 he was chief dramaturg and part of the leadership team at Berlin's Schaubühne. Together with his Schaubühne colleagues Ostermeier and Sasha Waltz, he created an international drama and dance ensemble. As a dramaturg he worked with, among others, the directors Barbara Frey, Luk Perceval, Rafael Sanchez, Yael Ronen and Sebastian Nübling. In 2000 he began working together with the director and author Falk Richter. After Hillje became a freelance dramaturg again in 2009, their collaboration continued on productions including Trust (Schaubühne, 2009), My Secret Garden (Festival d' Avignon, 2010) and Noise (Schauspiel Dusseldorf, 2012). Together with Nurkan Erpulat he developed the piece Mad Blood at the Ballhaus Naunynstraße in 2010, which was chosen by the trade journal Theater heute (Theatre today) as Play of the Year in 2011. That same year Hillje curated and served as artistic director of the performing arts festival In Transit at the House of World Cultures in Berlin. Since the 2013/14 season Jens Hillje has been co-artistic director and chief Dramaturg of the Gorki.

In September 2014 Maxim Gorki Theatre was elected „Theatre of The Year” by the German theatre critics. In 2015 the Gorki-production Common Ground,directed by Yael Ronen, has been invited to the renowned Theatertreffen-Festival.

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