Production | 10 remarkable productions

Ophelia’s Got Talent

By Florentina Holzinger

A production of Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin and Spirit in co-production with Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam, Tanzquartier Wien, Arsenic Lausanne, asphalt Festival, Gessnerallee Zürich, Kampnagel Internationales Sommerfestival and DE SINGEL

World premiere 15 September 2022 (Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz)

Trailer © Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

In Florentina Holzinger’s gigantic water spectacle, the company enters into a talent show to conduct a physical study on the psychology of water in the 21st century.

Trigger Information
Please note: The show “Ophelia’s Got Talent” contains
• self-injurious acts
• blood
• needles
• strobe lights
• explicit depiction or description of physical or sexual violence

Audience Discussion
Sunday, 14 May after the performance
Moderation: Vivian Perkovic, attending jury member: Katrin Ullmann

Water is the element of assimilation and adaptation, a symbol of the boundless capacity to expand, of an eternal, inseparable unity with the outside world. Iconographically, water has been closely associated with womanhood – and with images of violence and death: a figure standing next to a quiet pond is a cipher for the domestication of female subjectivity; whitecaps on the sea’s surface stand for the result of her physical disintegration, a mermaid’s fishtail is a metaphor for her ability to embody the regularities surrounding her.
In an oceanic landscape full of cultural and historical references to all manner of water creatures and drowned strangers, “Ophelia’s Got Talent” does not only ask whether training and physical exercise can help us escape the precarious circumstances of the present with climate catastrophes and other disasters looming. On the wet terrain of the stage, the performers try out what it means to “be Ophelia”. Deliberately satisfying the fantasies of others is a part of the elaborate game which she is mistress of. Leda, Melusine, Undine, the nymphs, Nereids or sirens, they all shape our biographies to this day. And as their heiresses, the company speculates on future life forms that will have assimilated these conditions, transformed them and yielded new forms of being.

Statement of the Jury
Florentina Holzinger’s super-heroines are back – even more courageous, combative and fit for the deepest seas than before. Moderated by the glass-eyed pirate “Captain Hook” who, like the rest of the female crew, performs bottomless, the evening begins as a talent show of athletes with various gifts who leave behind customary body images and taste norms. They wear their scars with pride and invent new forms of gracefulness. The stunts steadily increase in momentum: from freediving in several water basins to mass masturbation on a hovering helicopter, from siren song to plastic waste maelstrom inside the water basin. The common thread through Holzinger’s maximalist sea-creature show is Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Her act of drowning herself, however, is reinterpreted as an empowerment strategy: The performers narrate and rewrite their trauma by a self-determined, controlled flirtation with mortal danger. From survival mode to crazed spectacle.

Tojuror Katrin Ullmann’s video statement in the Berliner Festspiele Media Library (in German)

Programmheft (pdf 0.1 MB)

Artistic Team

Florentina HolzingerConcept and Staging
Stefan SchneiderSound Design
Paige A. Flash, Urška Preis, Stefan SchneiderMusic
Nikola KneževićStage Design
Anne MeeussenLighting Design
Melody Alia, Jens Crull, Max HeesenVideo Design
Melody AliaLive Camera
Max HeesenLive Editing
Renée Copraij, Sara Ostertag, Fernando Belfiore, Michele RizzoDramaturgy
Johanna KobuschDramaturgy Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz


Melody Alia, Saioa Alvarez Ruiz, Inga Busch, Renée Copraij, Sophie Duncan, Fibi Eyewalker/Princess Tweedle Needle, Paige A. Flash, Florentina Holzinger, Annina Machaz, Xana Novais, Netti Nüganen, Urška Preis, Zora Schemm

and Stella Adriana Bergmann, Greta Grip, Golda Kaden, Fiene Lydia Kaever, Izzy Kleiner, Elin Nordin, Lea Schünemann, Nike Strunk, Laila Yoalli Waschke, Zoë Willens

With funding from Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien and Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und Sport.

With many thanks to RambaZamba Theater.