Divided Skies London – 60/40/20

Phase I

January 30th and 31st 2010, Soho Theatre London

Phase one was a season of Theatre, Literature and Discussions about East and West Germany in the year leading up to the 20th anniversary of the unification of Germany (3rd of October 1990), during which we are looking back on 60 years of the Federal Republic of Germany, 40 years of the German Democratic Republic and the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

With this year of anniversaries comes a wave of new work and dialogue regarding the past and present of both German states and their reunification. Terminology is tricky, opinions vary widely and emotions run high due to the manifold perspectives when dealing with life on either side of the wall and afterwards.

We will take a close look at how Germany came to be divided, how society evolved in the East and in the West, which political and economic forces led to the dissolution of the border between the two states, as well as the developments in the last 20 years.

All in all we promise a deep insight into the complicated history of the two German states at the heart of the cold war and the chance to enjoy the highest quality of contemporary German culture—brand new material and the work of former generations interpreted by today’s German and English theatre makers working in the UK.

Saturday, January 30th 2010, 1pm

Unlocking Heiner Müller’s Texts

This is a practical introduction for directors, performers and other practitioners into Heiner Müller’s understanding of history and his treatment of it in his dense and poetic texts.

Saturday, January 30th 2010, 3pm

Heiner Müller’s Dialectic Thought in the GDR

A Live & Sound Installation of texts by Heiner Müller
Directed by Lydia Ziemke, Sound by Owen Lasch

Several lesser known texts by Heiner Müller are presented with recorded and live voices interacting. The texts are bitterly funny accounts of conditions in East Germany after the war and into the years leading up to the building of the so-called »anti-fascist safety wall« (the wall). They are chosen for their challenging dialectic thought, which exposes the discrepancy between moral principles and the necessities of real life.

Saturday, January 30th 2010, 5pm

Kurt Tucholsky—His Life and Songs

Edited and staged by Irving Wardle and Helena Kaut-Howson

Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935) was described by one fellow-writer as »a little Berliner man trying to stop a catastrophe with a typewriter.« He was an all-round journalist, and editor of Berlin’s leading left-wing weekly, die Weltbühne. As a savage critic of German militarism, old and new, he saw it all coming before falling silent in exile and committing suicide in 1935. Not content with three journalistic pseudonyms, Tucholsky had a fourth and hugely productive alter ego—Theobald Tiger—a poet and writer of satirical and lyrical verses, put to music by himself or composers such as Fritz Hollaender, Richard Heymann and Hanns Eisler. The songs tell the story of his times and the perennial experience of solitude in a big city at a time when things are changing for the worse. They also make you laugh.

First performed at Arcola Theatre January 2010.

Sunday, January 31st 2010, 2pm, £5

Two Perspectives (Zwei Ansichten) – by Uwe Johnson

A Workshop Performance

Based on the novel adaptation by Andrea Koschwitz and Robert Talheim.
Directed by Zoë Svendsen
Music composed by Dario Palermo
Performed by Lucy Ellinson and Finlay Robertson

1961. On a trip to Berlin, a West German photographer falls for a nurse from the East. Not long after, the Wall is built. Forced apart by politics, their brief affair grows into something neither can quite let go of… Uwe Johnson’s tale offers a laconic antidote to the mythologizing of love—and history—with its finely-drawn portrait of two incompatible systems and a single fragmented cityscape of isolation and desire.

A work-in-progress, with two performers and real-time electronic composition, exploring the interrelationship between the spoken word and music as a structuring principle. Followed by a short discussion with the performers and creative team.

Sunday, January 31st 2010, 3.30pm, £5

Sunflowerhouse (Achtzehn Einhundertneun-Lichtenhagen)

By Anne Rabe (winner of the Kleist-Scholarship 2008)
Translated by Philip Thorne, Directed by Lydia Ziemke

A family in close-up. Everything takes place in their flat, their living room even, in a typical East German concrete high-rise block in Rostock-Lichtenhagen. In this confined space Micha, who is making a film about his family, in order to get into film school, unwittingly uncovers a lot and forces the family to make decisions as to how to remember their past. The time is some years after the fall of the Wall, his father was a Stasi informant, his pregnant sister has been kicked out of university and his best friend is a Neo-Nazi. In fact it may be that Micha was himself part of that famous arson attack on the asylum seekers home in 1992—the Sunflowerhouse.

This is a play about growing up and facing the consequences of one’s actions, as well as a study of individual and collective memory. Looking at the reality of the different generations of a regular family in the wake of Germany’s reunification, the play does not embrace any of the customary nostalgia. This compact three-hander is a powerful portrait of the first post-unification generation.

Sunday, January 31st 2010, 5pm

Von Stasiland bis Ostalgie: The GDR Twenty Years After

Discussion on the occasion of the Booklaunch of Karen Leeder,
New College, Oxford

(Un)Divided Skies:
Memories and views on the separated and unified Germany,
through the media of theatre, literature and academic thought

A panel discussion examining the circumstances of the separation and re-unification of Germany and the effects of this event on Europe and the world. It also adresses the discrepancy between the reality of everyday life in the GDR and the subsequently constructed memory and nostalgia.

The panel will be made up of the academics included in the volume to be launched and theatre practitioners involved in the season, with special guests Anne Rabe, author of Sunflower House, and the German Ambassador to London.

There will also be a temporary bookstore with salient publications as well as a photo-exhibition and music throughout the weekend.

The Ruby Dolls

Ein Abend mit Ruby

Join The Ruby Dolls for a provocative night of Cabaret. Featuring the music of Weill, Hollaender and Eisler and the spirit of Weimar glamour, you’ll never forget your night with Ruby…

The Ruby Dolls are a close-part harmony group who combine songs of the 30’s, 40’s and beyond with elegant choreography, to bring you their high-class vintage Cabaret act. If you like your harmonies in heels, the Ruby Dolls are waiting to entertain you!

Von Stasiland bis Ostalgie: The GDR Twenty Years After

Booklaunch: Karen Leeder, New College, Oxford

A publication made up of a series of Seminars given in the first few months of 2009, the year of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. Its focus lies on the everyday lives of people before, during and after the Fall of the Wall and Unification.

Authors apart from Karen Leeder:
Lyn Marven, Hans Kundnani, Peter Thompson, Timothy Garton-Ash, Wolfgang Emmerich, T.J.Reed, Katrin Kohl, Georgina Paul, Chloe Paver, Daniela Berghahn, Jan-Werner Müller

Publications by participants:

Karen Leeder

  • Von Stasiland bis Ostalgie: The GDR Twenty Years After
    New College, Oxford

Hans Kundnani

  • Utopia or Auschwitz. Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust
    London/New York, 2009
  • Berlin Tales
    Stories Translated by Lyn Marven, edited by Helen Constantine

Peter Thompson

  • The Crisis of the German Left. The PDS, Stalinism and the Global Economy, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 2005 (reissued in paperback, 2006) »Thompson’s study presents a unique perspective on the PDS. […] His take on the PDS and the history of the German left gives historians and political scientists a fresh perspective on these topics.« (German Studies Review)
  • »Ernst Bloch and the Quantum Mechanics of Hope«. Introduction to new edition of Ernst Bloch’s Atheism in Christianity
    London and New York: Verso, 2009, pp. ix-xxx
  • »Heimatlos zu Hause: Bloch, Žižek and the Dislocated Heimat«
    in: Dislocation and Reorientation.: Exile, Division and the End of Communism in German Culture and Politics, Axel Goodbody, Pol O’Dochartaigh and Dennis Tate (eds), Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009, pp. 221-231
  • »The German Left, the Berlin Wall and the Second Great Crash«
    in: Debatte Vol. 17/1, 2009, 41-54
  • »Ernst Bloch« in: Nietzsche-Lexikon, Christian Niemeyer (ed.), Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2009, pp. 50-51
  • »Die unheimliche Heimat: The GDR and the Dialectics of Home« in: From Stasiland to Ostalgie: The GDR Twenty Years After, Karen Leeder (ed.) Oxford German Studies, 2009, 278-287
  • »Ostalgie, Heimat and the Dialectics of Home« in: Ernst Bloch Jahrbuch Vol. 4/2009, 95-106
  • »The German Left and the Second Great Crash 1989-2009: 20 Years of Marking Time« in: Working Papers 20/2008, Research Network 1989
  • »Wolf Biermann: Die Heimat ist weit« in: German Political Song, David Robb (ed.) Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2007, pp. 199-226
  • »German Social Democracy and the Market-State« in: Debatte Vol. 12/1, 2004, 9-24
  • »ʻIt’s the economy, stupid!ʼ The Primacy of Politics and the Market-State« in: International Journal of the Humanities Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004
  • »The PDS: ʻCSU des Ostensʼ? Heimat and the Left« in: Recasting German Identity, Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds), Camden House, 2002, pp. 149-168

in the Press

  • »What is Concrete about a Concrete Utopia? Ernst Bloch and the Principle of Hope« in: Out of the Blue, Johan Siebers (ed.), Amsterdam: Het Blauwe Huis Press, 2010

in Preparation

  • »Bloch, Žižek and Ideo-Theological critique: Utopia as the next best thing to Home.« Invited submission to The International Journal of Žižek Studies [submitted]
  • »The S is Not Yet a P. Ernst Bloch and Aristotle’s dynámei ón: Not-Yetness, Hope and the Promise of the Universal«, for New German Critique [submitted]
  • »Der Mensch als Gattungswerden. Ernst Bloch und die Metaphysik der Offenheit.« Invited article to appear in Leipziger Schriften zur Philosophie, 2010
  • »Worin noch niemand war: The GDR as retrospectively imagined community«. Invited chapter in Historical and Cultural Remembrance of the GDR, Nick Hodgin and Caroline Pearce (eds), Camden House, 2010
  • »From Karl Marx to Karl May«. Invited chapter for Tribal Fantasies, James Mackay and David Stirrup (eds), Nebraska University Press, 2010
  • »The Philosophy of Lateness in Heidegger and Bloch«. Invited chapter to appear in a special edtion of New German Critique on Figuring Lateness, Karen Leeder (ed.), 2010/11
  • »Der Mensch«. Extended entry (15 pages) on Bloch’s Anthropology in Ernst Bloch Wörterbuch, de Gruyter, 2010/11
  • »What is Concrete about Ernst Bloch’s Concrete Utopia?«. Invited chapter in The Sociology of Utopia, Keith Tester and Michael Hviid Jacobsen (eds), to appear 2010/11
  • »Brecht, Benjamin and the Crisis of Modernity.« Invited chapter in the proceedings of one-day conference: Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht: Story of a Friendship, Libris, 2010/11
  • »Bloch, Dutschke, Žižek and Divine Violence.« Invited chapter in aspecial edition of New German Critique on Divine Violence, Martin Ruehl (ed.), 2011
Selected plays translated by David Tushingham
  • Dea Loher – Adam Geist, Innocence, Land Without Words, Stranger’s House, The Final Fire
  • Falk Richter – State of Emergency, Under Ice
  • Roland Schimmelpfennig – The Woman Before, Arabian Nights
  • David Gieselmann – Mr. Kolpert
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Bitter tears of Petra von Kant
Further recommended reading:
  • Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (1997)
  • Karen Till’s The New Berlin: Memory, Politics, Place (2005)
  • Andrew Webber, Berlin in the Twentieth Century: A Cultural Topography (2008)
  • Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (2003)


30. | 31.01.2010
Divided Skies - Phase I
Divided Skies - Phase I Soho Theatre London, Workshop
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