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The Expat Expo: Immigrant Invasion

The Expat Expo: Immigrant Invasion

Picture of Sophie Fenella
Updated: 6 June 2016
This weekend, head down to The English Theatre for a festival of performance featuring international theatre companies and performers. Berlin is a multi-cultural city, home to people from all over the world, and English Theatre Berlin is the perfect example of the many different cultures and nationalities within Berlin’s artistic and cultural scene.

 

A warm and welcoming hub for international theatre makers and performers to meet and share work in Berlin, English Theatre Berlin is dedicated to supporting the work of independent international artists in Berlin.

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Image courtesy of ETB

The Expat Expo is a celebration of Berlin’s diverse and international culture. The festival began in 2013 and happens annually. The artistic program is curated by the artistic director of English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center, Daniel Brunet, who selects performances from the diverse and undiscovered international independent performing arts community of Berlin, whose working language is English.

From dance, to feminist theatre, solo shows and collective performances, the genres presented at this festival are as mixed as the performers are multi-cultural. Creativity diversity is paramount in the wide range of styles of performances programmed, performances that do not fit the box of conventional theater, performances that are on the brink of creating new art forms and performances that will surprise and delight an English speaking audience.

© Laura Knoll / courtesy of ETB

© Laura Knoll / courtesy of ETB

The festival also acts as a way for artists to network, as there is an open application policy meaning even those who are new to the scene can apply to get involved. The theatre itself is a wonderful place to meet new like-minded people, with a courtyard and bar served by friendly staff, a great place for artists who are new to Berlin to connect with the city’s multifaceted creative scene.

© Ian forknall / courtesy of ETB

© Ian forknall / courtesy of ETB

The ReWilding project, performed by Liz Erber, is a solo show that epitomises the eclectic range of genres, and styles programmed during this festival. ‘Re-wild’ means to connect with the wild within, and reunite humanity with nature; themes of evolution, the relationship between humanity and nature, and the innate wildness of man are prevalent in this interdisciplinary performance. Mixing dance, text and technology, the artist plays with different forms of performance to open up a conversation with the audience about the human condition of modern man, and how modern man has been severed from the natural world. Liz Erber addresses vital environmental issues, like the rapid disintegration of ice in the Arctic, and the extinction of wildlife, asking,

“How do we, amidst the affluence of Western Europe, respond to these seemingly far-removed crises? How do the body and psyche of the individual, human mammal respond to the worldwide devastation of our natural environment? Perhaps dolphins have the answers to what we are looking for.”

The dolphin’s primordial way of life is idealised to the point that the lifestyle of modern man is shown to be inadequate in comparison. As Erber sings at the end of the performance, in a tongue-in-cheek sing-a-long with the audience, “dolphins are smarter than us, who knew?”

Expertly performed, highlights included a stunning dance sequence that enacts the evolution of man, with natural grace and imagination. Erber lay in the space, half naked, curled up, egg-like, in the middle of the stage, slowly uncurling her body, and hatching into a human. Her quirky charm, and ability to effortlessly switch between deadpan and neurotic frenzy was captivating. A performer who truly knows how to win over the audience, she led us into a philosophical investigation of the human condition with playful humour and sensitivity.

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Fiona-Martinelli / courtesy of ETB

This Weekend Go and See

There is plenty more to see at the festival in the first weekend of June. All the performances experiment with conventional forms of theatre with mutual creativity, merging art forms, and addressing philosophical and social issues prevalent to today – the program reflects this theatre’s love of  innovative performance. We recommend checking out ‘Sleep No More – The Madness of Lady Macbeth’ on Friday the 3rd, which promises to combine song, movement and the story of Lady Macbeth to play with the narrative in which this archaic character is trapped, and reveal how her confinement relates to broad questions of the way individuals are defined by social conditions.

 

Sophie Fenella