The 10 Productions 2023

Ten remarkable productions from the last season were selected by a jury of critics to provide a condensed insight into the German-language theatre landscape.

Two men kiss passionately next to a tree while a third man looks on in irritation.

Das Vermächtnis (The Inheritance)

© Sandra Then

Das Vermächtnis (The Inheritance)
Part 1 and Part 2

Residenztheater (Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel)

By Matthew Lopez
German translation by Hannes Becker
Based on the novel “Howards End” by E.M. Forster
Director and Set Designer Philipp Stölzl
German-language premiere 30 January 2022

Statement of the Jury
In a way, Matthew Lopez’ two-part stage epos “Das Vermächtnis (The Inheritance)” is a successor of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America”: While Kushner’s AIDS-drama dissected the US of the Reagan-era, Lopez extends the narrative arc to the presidency of Donald Trump by jumping backwards and forwards in time. “The Inheritance” describes encounters between characters from different milieus and generations. A multi-faceted social panorama and relationship drama unfolds in pointed scenes, portraying New York’s gay community and highlighting social fracture lines. Director Philipp Stölzl entirely trusts the narrative and the first-class company of the Residenztheater. And not least, this seven-hour stage marathon proves that theatre is still by far better than Netflix.

A woman with a camera stands with her legs spread over a man lying on the floor and films him while a woman sits at a table.

Der Bus nach Dachau

© Isabel Machado Rios

Der Bus nach Dachau
A 21st century memorial play

A production of Schauspielhaus Bochum and De Warme Winkel
Co-produced by Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

By De Warme Winkel and the company
Concept and Staging by Vincent Rietveld, Ward Weemhoff (De Warme Winkel)
World premiere 5 November 2022 (Schauspielhaus Bochum) | |

Statement of the Jury
In “Der Bus nach Dachau”, the Dutch collective De Warme Winkel and the ensemble of Schauspielhaus Bochum venture into a risky experiment: Vincent Rietveld and Ward Weemhoff want to stage a screenplay about a trip to Dachau following the traces of interned Dutch resistance fighters. Ward’s father had written this screenplay in 1993, but in the shadow of “Schindler’s List”, it was never made into a film. By way of this endeavour, the show expands to include issues like the representability of the Holocaust as a singular crime in the history of humankind and a radical rupture of civilisation, the (im)possibility of fictionalising it, and forms of remembrance in times when witnesses of this period can no longer be consulted. De Warme Winkel and the cast try out a wide variety of aesthetic devices: they don’t stop at Snapchat or participation and expose their audience to a roller-coaster of emotions that constantly provokes questions and objections. But it is precisely this kind of friction that prevents remembrance from becoming an empty ritual.

Three women and two men perform a kind of dance in front of a white screen.

Der Einzige und sein Eigentum

© Arno Declair

Der Einzige und sein Eigentum

Deutsches Theater Berlin

A piece of musical theatre by Sebastian Hartmann and PC Nackt based on Max Stirner
Director and Set Designer Sebastian Hartmann
Premiere 4 September 2022

Statement of the Jury
Before its publication in 1844, Max Stirner’s book “Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (The Ego and Its Own)” was banned because the author, whose work was to influence Nietzsche and Marx, made an outrageous claim: Everybody is only their own and no authority, no entity is above them. What was once social dynamite has today become mundane and is at times even practised to extremes. Director and set designer Sebastian Hartmann and composer PC Nackt have distilled their very own form of musical theatre from this unwieldy material – a review packed with strange, beautiful and dark twists along a permanently revolving spiral tower. Backed by heavy sound fields, spiky tones and danceable songs, Hartmann and the company of six performers associate a wide variety of interpretations and emotions of the Ego, lay a robot to its final rest, get lost in a 3D animated bee hive. How much Ego do we need and how unique is it? With an overwhelming lure, the Gesamtkunstwerk of “Der Einzige und sein Eigentum” meditates on these questions, while unceasingly advocating for cooperation between many Egos.

Four people in short pink trousers and short-sleeved shirts stand in front of a large statue of Mary and two angels, their heads completely covered by masks with neat short hair.

Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut

© Susanne Hassler-Smith

Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut

Burgtheater (Vienna)

By Maria Lazar
Stage version by Lucia Bihler and Alexander Kerlin
Director Lucia Bihler
World premiere 20 January 2023

Statement of the Jury
Maria Lazar’s novel “Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut (The Natives of Maria Blut)”, written in her Danish exile in 1937, is a lucid exploration of how prone provincial Catholic communities were to succumb to emerging fascism: Poverty and the fear of social decline promote anti-Semitic tendencies and dreams of a redeemer. Dramaturg Alexander Kerlin and director Lucia Bihler have submitted a pointed version of this character-filled novel which seems tailor-made for Bihler’s stylised imagery.
The two-hour-long show fans out into miniature dramas, separated by angular blackouts. Supported by sound-designer Jacob Suske, the cast perfectly keeps up the suspense: at no point do we feel comfortable. A challenging show unfolds; its strong staging deliberately subverts any stringent narration. Its choric passages and acting with or without masks baulk at any sleek interpretation. Instead, the production throws glaring lights on the ominous amalgamation of piety and village life. “Die Eingeborenen von Maria Blut” thus approaches radical literature in a radical way.

A bearded man leans on a stick in a shower of confetti, while a woman in evening dress smiles dangerously behind him, holding a thick stick.

Ein Sommernachtstraum

© Ingo Höhn

Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Theater Basel

By William Shakespeare
German translation by Angela Schanelec in cooperation with Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens
In a version by Antú Romero Nunes and the company
Director Antú Romero Nunes
Premiere 17 December 2022

Statement of the Jury
There is it, the overwhelming, laugh-until-you-cry funny comedy: If “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the favourite of all amateur dramatics clubs – then let’s have an amateur dramatics club playing it. Director Antú Romero Nunes transforms the acting company of Theater Basel into a places a staff of teachers full of quirks and foibles and gives them free rein to act. And how they act – with such relish, such skills! The uptight history teacher turns into Helena, the principal and his wife become Oberon and Titania. And the shy ethics teacher first transforms into the doddering Egeus and then into a Puck who not only delights in confusion but also has kleptomaniac tendencies. The teachers immerse themselves ever more deeply into the play and become more and more professional, they move ever more deeply into the forest, into imagination, into the dream, the subconscious. The seven actors and the musician are enveloped in more and more curtains – their awakening will be terrible. This “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a theatre that celebrates itself, challenges itself, mocks itself. Great fun!

A woman in a white costume puts her hand on the shoulder of a tired-looking man wearing a crown and a golden suit.


© Claudia Heysel


Anhaltisches Theater Dessau

Tragedy by William Shakespeare
In a version by Philipp Preuss based on the German translation by Marius von Mayenburg
Director Philipp Preuss
Premiere 25 March 2022

Statement of the Jury
Perhaps we have to imagine hell as endlessly wandering through a house of mirrors that reflects nothing but our own image from every wall. In Ramallah Sara Aubrecht’s breathtaking set for Philipp Preuss’ “Hamlet”-production in Dessau, the mirrors are complemented by countless curtains with video projections and a long table that reaches into the depths of the gigantic stage. Around this table, the participants of the tragedy prowl in their zombie-like existence, as if constantly scratching the wounds struck by the regicide. A purgatory where the emotional states, and thus the texts, refuse to stay with the characters that the play has allotted to them, where doppelgängers flit about and the classic play rapidly turns into an eerie, nightmarish landscape. Any escape from this bunker of the aggrieved – which seems to automatically extend all the way to Moscow in the spring of 2022 – seems permanently impossible.

A young woman watches in shock as an older man reaches out his hand to a middle-aged man lying on the ground.

Kinder der Sonne

© Matthias Horn

Kinder der Sonne (Children of the Sun)

Schauspielhaus Bochum

By Maxim Gorki
German translation by Ulrike Zemme
Director Mateja Koležnik
Premiere 7 October 2022

Statement of the Jury
At first glance, Mateja Koležnik’s production of Maxim Gorki’s “Kinder der Sonne (Children of the Sun)” appears to be from a different time. Raimund Orfeo Voigt’s hyper-realistic set, which reflects the decline of a self-absorbed bourgeoisie in every detail, and the psychologically exact acting by a company that is perfectly cast even in the smallest roles, align themselves with theatre traditions that have gone a little out of fashion. And yet, there is nothing museum-like about Koležnik’s approach. In fact, her work is highly topical. The scientist played by Guy Clemens, whose unworldly behaviour is an expression of toxic privilege, and all the others who revolve around him reveal themselves to be tragi-comic egocentrics and blind to everything that is happening around them. In this way, Koležnik moves Gorki’s characters closer to us and our crisis-ridden reality.

A man and a woman crouch in a stage set consisting of many window openings and doors.


© Armin Smailovic


Münchner Kammerspiele

A thriller by Sivan Ben Yishai, Henrik Ibsen, Gerhild Steinbuch, Ivna Žic
German translation by Tobias Herzberg and Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel
Director Felicitas Brucker
World premiere 7 October 2022

Statement of the Jury
“What kind of person’s story would be about nothing but giving up?” – Katharina Bach asks with fighting spirit – and she never stops fighting. She plays the bank director’s spouse Nora Helmer as a flaming athlete of emotions and a harpy-like gothic queen with a lower- pitch version of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” on her lips. By hook or crook, Nora tries to escape the corset that she has been laced into as a woman, a wife and a piece of inventory in a house that plays the second lead of this production. Set designer Viva Schudt has it standing on its head, or rather, on its roof, forcing the cast to climb, kick and stumble. Instead of rewriting large areas of Ibsen’s text, authors Sivan Ben Yishai, Ivna Žic and Gerhild Steinbuch have added isolated complements, and Ben Yishai’s prologue wittily infuses the issue of class into the play. Felicitas Brucker has succeeded in creating a show that deals with economic and social struggle for survival on many different levels. An acoustically and visually electrifying trip, a virtuoso upending of society, house and soul.

Five women dressed in sailor tops try to reach something outside the frame.

Ophelia’s Got Talent

© Nicole Marianna Wytyczak

Ophelia’s Got Talent

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

By Florentina Holzinger
Concept and Staging Florentina Holzinger
With funding from Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien and Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und Sport
World premiere 15 September 2022 (Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz) | | | | | | | |

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.

Seven people gather in yellow light around a man lying on a long table with a gold draped tablecloth.


© Susanne Hassler-Smith


Burgtheater (Vienna)

By Peter Handke
Director Rieke Süßkow
World premiere 8 December 2022

Statement of the Jury
Peter Handke’s “Zwiegespräch” largely dispenses with plot or characters; instead, it revolves around the phenomenon of narration itself. Director Rieke Süßkow prises the speech acts wide open: On the one hand, she distributes the text between Burgtheater-grandees Hans Dieter Knebel, Branko Samarovski and Martin Schwab, who appear as the pitiful residents of a retirement home. On the other hand, the young actors Maresi Riegner and Elisa Plüss get their chance as merciless care workers. Two generations confront each other and the imbalance of power between residents and nursing staff is vividly evident: Let the old white men chatter as much as they like – they do not have a say (any longer).
The generational conflict may not have been set up in Handke’s material, but it makes a lot of theatrical sense: With this nightmarish old people’s home and its heartless routine in dealing with death and dying, the director sets a strong visual positing next to, underneath and above the text material without damaging it in the process. Süßkow sharpens and escalates. Her “Zwiegespräch” at the Akademietheater succeeds as a ghoulishly beautiful dance of death.

Between 29 January 2022 and 20 January 2023, 461 productions from 58 cities were viewed either in person or online. 840 votes were submitted and a total of 33 productions were suggested and discussed for an invitation to the 2023 Theatertreffen.
We would like to congratulate the selected production teams and all other participants!