18/05  | 20:00
    19/05  | 20:00
    20/05  | 20:00
    21/05  | 15:00

€ 25 / € 20
Arab / Kurdish / GR / RO > FR / NL

Meet the artists after the performance on 19/05

Europe as seen by the stranger and Europe’s other side. In 2014, Milo Rau debuted his European trilogy at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts: through the biographies of his actors, The Civil Wars questioned what might push young Europeans to wage jihad in the Middle East. In 2015, The Dark Ages looked east, weaving together the war experiences of his German, Russian, Serbian and Bosnian actors. Blending the histories of his performers and theatre scripts, Empire is now looking south. The play follows the journeys of migrants and refugees who land on the shores of the Aegean Sea, and whose tragic fate resonates with the myths of Ancient Greece. What do these trajectories say about Europe today, about its past and its future? A naturalistic odyssey that also probes the mechanism of the art of theatre itself. Pure brilliance.

Concept, text & direction
Milo Rau

Text & performance
Ramo Ali, Akillas Karazissis, Rami Khalaf, Maia Morgenstern

Dramaturgy & research
Stefan Bläske, Mirjam Knapp

Stage design & costumes
Anton Lukas

Marc Stephan

Eleni Karaindrou

Sound design
Jens Baudisch

Aymrik Pech

Assistant director
Anna Königshofer

Assistant stage & costumes
Sarah Hoemske

Directing intern
Laura Locher

Dramaturgy intern
Marie Roth, Riccardo Raschi

Mirjam Knapp (operator), IIPM (translation)

Production manager
Mascha Euchner-Martinez, Eva-Karen Tittmann

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KVS

IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder

Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Zurich), Schaubühne (Berlin), steirischer herbst festival (Graz)

Sponsored by
Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa Berlin, Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin, Pro Helvetia, Migros-Kulturprozent

Kindly supported by
Kulturförderung Kanton St.Gallen & Schauspielhaus Graz

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What do we mean by refuge? What about home? How can pain, loss and new beginnings be narrated on stage? As the conclusion of the European Trilogy, Empire presents biographical close-ups of people who have come to Europe as refugees or who live on its peripheries. Actors from Greece, Syria and Romania tell of artistic and actual tragedy, of torture, flight, grief, death and rebirth. What happens to people who have lost all their belongings or their homeland to crises and war?

Two actors representing the old, tradition-steeped Europe share the stage with two Syrian actors who have recently fled to France and Germany. In the 1970s, the Greek Akillas Karazissis discovered Hippiedom, Lonely Hearts’ Club parties and theatre in Heidelberg. Later, in the classical Greek theatre at Epidaurus, he played the great warriors and tragic heroes. Maia Morgenstern rose to prominence in the films of Angelopoulos and played Mary, Mother of God in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ; she is now director of the Jewish Theatre in Bucharest. Actor Rami Khalaf fled to Paris on a forged Romanian passport and worked there for a Syrian radio station whilst scouring thousands of photos of the murdered victims of the Syrian regime in search of his lost brother. The Kurd Ramo Ali spent several months in Assad’s prisons where the interrogation techniques comprised torture but also a kind of psychoanalysis. In Germany, he began to tell his stories of flight on the stage.

Intimate and yet told on an epic scale, the four biographies create a portrait of a continent whose past has been fractured many times and whose future is uncertain. Empire finalizes the epic journey of the Europe Trilogy, the analysis of cultural roots, the political present and future of Europe – a continent caught between ancient myths and an imperial present.

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Milo Rau was born in Bern in 1977 and studied sociology, German and Romance studies in Paris, Zurich and Berlin under Tzvetan Todorov and Pierre Bourdieu among others. He started his first reporting assignments in 1997, travelling to Chiapas and Cuba. From 2000 he wrote for the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and from 2002 worked as a director and writer at home and abroad. In 2007, Milo Rau founded the theatre and film production company International Institute of Political Murder which he still runs to this day. His productions, campaigns and films (including The Last Days of the Ceausescus, Hate Radio, City of Change, Breivik’s Statement, The Moscow Trials, The Zurich Trials, The Civil Wars, The Dark Ages, The Congo Tribunal and Compassion. The History of the Machine Gun and Five Easy Pieces) have toured more than 30 countries around the world and been invited to some of the leading festivals, including the Berliner Theatertreffen, Festival d’Avignon, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Noorderzon, Festival TransAmériques, Wiener Festwochen and Biennale Teatro di Venezia. Alongside his work for stage and film, he lectures on direction, cultural theory and social sculpture in universities and colleges. In 2014, Milo Rau was awarded the Swiss Theatre Prize, the Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden (for Hate Radio), the Special Jury Price of the German Film Festival (for The Moscow Trials) and the Great Jury Prize of the German Theatre Triennale Festival Politik im Freien Theater (for The Civil Wars). His play The Civil Wars was also selected as one of the five best plays of 2014 by the expert’s commission of Swiss State Television and was chosen as one of the best plays in the Netherlands and Flanders in 2014-2015. In 2015 Milo Rau was awarded the Konstanzer Konzilspreis Preis für Europäische Begegnungen und Dialog (Council of Constance – Prize for European Encounter and Dialogue) for the first time, in 2016 the prize of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) for World Theatre Day, and the 3sat Prize in 2017. La Libre Belgique recently named Rau “Europe’s most sought-after director” while Le Soir described him as one of the “freest and most strident minds of our time”. In April 2017, Milo Rau was nominated artistic director of the Belgian national theatre NTGent.

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