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IOTF 2020

Rückkehr nach Reims (Returning to Reims)

First published in 2009, Didier Eribon’s memoir Returning to Reims follows the French sociologist’s return from cosmopolitan Paris to his small hometown in the wake of his father’s death and after decades away. Having grown up gay in a working-class family with a homophobic father as patriarch, Eribon employs his own complicated journey ‘home’ as a path through which to address questions of political fragmentation and the rise of the ultra-right in contemporary France. Thomas Ostemeier’s acclaimed adaptation – or reimagining, as some have termed it – is a sensual rumination on grief, sexuality, and our ever-evolving relationship with the past. ONE DAY ONLY! This production plays on 16 April 2020. Available from 6.30pm CET until midnight.

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Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun)

One of R.W. Fassbinder’s most extraordinary films is here reenvisaged for the stage with a canny sense of history. Maria Braun is widowed soon after marriage when her husband, Herman, returns to the battlefront. Working in a bar to make a living, she begins a relationship with a black GI. Only one night, Herman Braun returns and Maria takes a course of action that will reshape her life forever. Here Ostermeier offers a telling portrait of modern Germany – the World War II years giving way to an economic boom that reshapes the world of its protagonist. Thrillingly performed this is a tight, taut staging realized with an impeccable sense of the possible and the probable. ONE DAY ONLY! This production plays on 23 April 2020. Available from 6.30pm CET until midnight.

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Ein Volksfeind (An Enemy of the People)

Dr. Stockmann discovers that the source of drinking and spa water is riddled with pathogenic micro-organisms, caused by industrial effluence. Stockmann wants to publish the findings in the newspaper and demands that the city council re-route the water pipes. Influential citizens and local journalists promise their support. However, his brother Peter, the mayor, raises some serious concerns: the economic prosperity of the spa town will be threatened. Nevertheless, Stockmann insists on transparency: for him, the affair has long since ceased to be about the polluted health spa, his target is society as a whole. Ibsen’s drama wavers on a fine line between honesty and fanaticism. What is the potential for transparency in a commercialized society? One of Ibsen’s most resonant works is made highly topical in Ostermeier’s acclaimed production. ONE DAY ONLY! This production plays on 18 April 2020. Available from 6.30pm CET until midnight.

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A heroine who is born a hero; or a hero who becomes a heroine – does it even matter? Orlando experiences four centuries of British and European human history — from the Court of Elizabeth I to the buttoned-up Victorian era. This is a life lived to the full that questions the absolutes of societal norms and conventions. Virginia Woolf’s playful interweaving of life, art, reality, and fiction delivers a visionary work with a dazzling protagonist whose multiple identities leapfrog any narrow definition or rigid categorization. In a production combining performance on stage with live video, Katie Mitchell and Alice Birch brilliantly explore Orlando’s queer journey through centuries of patriarchal history with verve and imagination. ONE DAY ONLY! This production plays on 22 April 2020. Available from 6.30pm CET until midnight.

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In 1917 Russia is shaken by the October Revolution. Just a few years later, socialism has been implemented. Lenin, the ringleader of the revolution, is in a dacha near Moscow battling physical and mental decay. Surrounded by a depleted inner circle, cut off from the Central Committee, he fights to retain his political influence. His companion Trotsky, cultural politician Lunacharsky and others who visit Lenin’s dacha conjure up recollections of the brief moment in history when everything seemed possible. But scheming to become his successor, his opponent Stalin is already waiting in the wings. Milo Rau and the Schaubühne Ensemble provide a unique examination of a society caught between awakening and apathy, revolutionary longing and reactionary opposition – a labyrinth of hope and fear, of political ideals and the collective experience of violence. ONE DAY ONLY! This production plays on 25 April 2020. Available from 6.30pm CET until midnight.

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Octavia. Trepanation

Featuring a libretto based on a 1924 essay by Leon Trotsky about Lenin and fragments of a play, Octavia, attributed to Seneca about the Roman emperor Nero, this is a thrilling new opera staged with verve and ambition by one of Russia’s most acclaimed directors. An opera about the possible and the probable, about the recent and not so recent past, about tyranny and its discontents that allow Lenin, Trotsky, and Nero to enter into a poetic, interdisciplinary dialogue on what power means and how it is executed. ONE DAY ONLY! From 3 May 2020 at 6.30pm CET for 24 hours.

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In this ambitious directorial debut, Klim Kozinsky combines fragments from Dostoevky’s The Idiot with the philosophical concepts explored in Leibniz’ Monadology – hence the title’s amalgam. Characters move on a nearly empty stage, and in doing so their bodies eventually come together to reveal iconic paintings. Equal parts ethereal and unnerving, this provocative production explores the power of language in shaping the human condition. ONE DAY ONLY! From 5 May 2020 at 6.30pm CET for 24 hours.

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The Constant Principle

This two-part production, based on Pedro Calderón’s philosophical drama The Constant Prince and Alexander Pushkin’s A Feast in a Time of Plague, unites in a non-linear way the story of Prince Fernando, a Christian who withstands torture while in captivity — a requiem for 20th-century history and culture — and a kind of anthology-concert of the forms of modern theatre. Pushkin’s text puts everything on a vertical plane, bringing completion to the theatrical statement. A unique and unsettling production. TWO DAYS ONLY! Part 1 of this production plays from 6 May 2020 at 6.30pm CET for 24 hours. Part 2 of this production plays from 7 May 2020 at 6.30pm CET for 24 hours.

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Directed by Alexander Zeldovic with art group AES+F, Psychosis offers a unique take on Sarah Kane’s iconic play 4.48 Psychosis. Written as a monologue that captures the borderline psychological state of a patient suffering from clinical depression in a psychiatric clinic, the production reenvisages Kane’s single voice as a chorus of internal voices invoked by the nineteen actresses of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre. This is a highly original reading of a contemporary classic realized with imagination, verve and a dynamic understanding of the moods and intonations of Kane’s distinctive language. ONE DAY ONLY! From 8 May 2020 at 6.30pm CET for 24 hours.

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Max Black

Based on texts by Paul Valery, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, and Ludwig Wittgenstein this legendary work by Heiner Goebbels offers a feast for the eyes and ears. Music theatre pyrotechnics offer a new mode of embodying philosophical discourse in a staging that that is both sensuous and spontaneous. Here one of Europe’s most adventurous theatre-makers offers an opportunity to experience the magic that scientist Max Black is capable of realizing in his onstage laboratory where anything and everything is possible. ONE DAY ONLY!
 May, 10, 6.30 pm CET for 24 hours. EXTENDED! May 29, 2:30 pm EST (NYC), 6.30 pm CET (Berlin) for 24 hours

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‘Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee.’ One could argue that Brabantio’s warning to Othello is the pulse that runs through one of the most sinister of Shakespeare’s plays: if true, Richard Twyman and the English Touring Theatre have exploited this to full effect. In a taut staging addressing contemporary religious tensions – particularly those between Islam and Christianity – Victor Oshin masterfully humanizes the protagonist before his inevitable fall whilst Kitty Archer as Desdemona provides a tragic foil to his demise. A thrillingly tense an immensely humane exploration of the danger of jealousy unleashed.

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Negative Space

“Theatrical space as a place of possibilities and (im) possibilities is revealed in the work of leading UK-Belgian company Reckless Sleepers. In the absence of a conventional narrative, meaning, movement and logic become liquid and changing concepts in a hypnotic and intriguing composition that reinvents itself with each viewing. In a world where you can be anything… can you only be what is expected of you? Can we break down the pre-established limits of the theatrical (and real) worlds on stage and agree on the fact that we might have seen the same piece… but not really?

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Krzysztof Warlikowski’s (A)pollonia is based on classical and contemporary texts, primarily, excerpts from Euripides’ Alcestis, the Oresteia by Aeschylus, and Hanna Krall’s Pola. The erudite script also includes fragments of Jonathan Littell’s Les Bienveillantes, J.M Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, Rabidranath Tagore’s drama The Post Office, and more. By bringing together these texts, Warlikowski seeks to shed light on the ambiguous and somber history of sacrifice, and self-sacrifice – giving up one’s life for another – in particular. Stories of mythological characters ruled by Fate are complemented and reflected in twentieth-century experience with its helplessness in the face of the Holocaust. In the act of sacrifice, the executioner becomes no less important than the victim.

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Anty-Gone Tryptich Part II

To tell the mythical story of Antigone, Song of the Goat uses a hypnotic mix of narration, polyphonic singing, choreography and the music of a cello. The performers’ contemporary dance movements, combined in different ways throughout the show, invite us to reflect on the figure of Antigone: are all the people we see a part of that mythical figure? Perhaps those movements, to the beat of a multiplicity of polyphonic voices, could be the embodiment of the doubts that torment Antigone? In a world where you can be anything… Can you be loyal to your beliefs while thunderous voices sow doubts around you?

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The Clock God from the West

The theatrical stage is always a magic place where time, space and culture intersects. On stage, magic can send you back to the past, but how can it remove your pride, greed, envy and lust? In a dark age, no one is optimistic about the future, the only way that they can find relief is by looking back. Can the family in the East finally find any resolution with the magic of the clock from the West? The play was produced by Quirky Moth Theatre, one of China’s leading theatre companies established by a group of younger-generation practitioners and here they explore the influence of the West on China’s sense of self with a heightened sense of the intersections between past, present and future.

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Department of Dreams

In this nightmarish, Orwellian comedy, an autocratic government demands its citizens deposit their dreams in a central bureaucratic depository so that it can exert the fullest possible control of their imaginations. Dan, a new hire for the prized job of Interpreter, sifts patiently through the nation’s dreams looking for threats to the government’s authority. but finds nothing is as it seems except the authority he serves. A key work from Kosovan playwright Jeton Naziraj is given a memorable production, first staged at LA’s City Garage in 2019.

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The Rosenbergs

The North-American premiere of Joachim Holbek’s and Rhea Leman’s 2015 opera, The Rosenbergs presents a new lens for looking at the relationship of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the US citizens convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. Drawing on their letters from prison in 1953, this moving exploration of the Rosenbergs’ personal and political commitment is intensely realised, with Christie Lee Gibson and Brian Church excelling as the doomed couple trying to navigate a difficult line between idealism and naivety. What would you be prepared to do for what you believe in? This is a production that allows The Rosenbergs a new trial, inviting the audience to come to its own conclusions about what moral responsibility means and how to exercise it.

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Blue Bird

The Blue Bird is a trilogy based, in part, on the play by Belgian symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck. Boris Yukhananov staged it as a journey into a fantastic, eccentrically structured world where experiments with the spectator’s imagination alternate with deep reflections on culture, time and theatre. The personal memories of veteran actors Vladimir Korenev and Aleftina Konstantinova – he in the role of the boy Tyltyl and she in the role of the girl Mytyl – emerge as vivid, documentary commentary on this mystical story about the search for Happiness. Each of the production’s parts has its own name – Journey, Night, and Bliss – its own structure, and artistic fabric. Each is stylistically diverse and absorbs the experience of world theatre culture in its own way.

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Family Album

Is it surprising to see conflicts and compromises as three generations of a family – a grandmother, her children and grandchildren — all coexist in the same house? Described as a ‘tragi-comedy about dumplings and the 90s’, Spiazzi’s perceptive piece has the actors performing in masks. Each generation is distinguished by their own characteristics and quibbles. What this live family album looks like depends on our own interpretations, and it can be like anything…

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2007: Macbeth

The Shakespeare’s play, directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, is set on an American military base in present-day Iraq. Macbeth commands a daring military operation during daily Muslim prayers that ends with him terminating the local rebel leaders. The act, while praised by General Duncan, in just the first in a series of brutal murders that the ambitious military man will commit, incited by his ruthless wife and his evergrowing aspirations.

The televised version of the play was produced in 2006, just a month before the demolition of the Warsaw Waryński Factory complex, which had served as the stage for 2007: Macbeth ever since the play’s premiere. Dynamic close-ups, editing, and additional sound effects improved and focused the intimacy and dynamics of multiple shots, while the pervasively claustrophobic interiors where the increasingly psychotic Macbeth spends his days strongly emphasized the liminal psychological condition of the protagonist.

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April 2024


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