Performed in German with English subtitles
The Bard is modern and alive than ever in visionary Robert Wilson's Shakespeare's Sonnets, a contemporary take on 25 specially chosen sonnets from Shakespeare's cannon. Set to a sweeping score composed by the renowned Rufus Wainwright, a genre-bending mix of medieval German Minnesang, classical, pop, and cabaret rock is performed by Bertolt Brecht's historic Berliner Ensemble. The sonnets were pared down and selected by Berliner dramaturge Jutta Ferbers who deftly adapted these captivating poems that were originally unintended for the theater. The production was first staged in Berlin in 2009 for the fourth centennial of the publishing of the sonnets.
For this production, Wilson embraces the prevalence of subversive gender conventions embedded in Shakespeare's 154 sonnets which move fluidly between male and female objects of desire. Several quintessential characters make an appearance; from boy to fool, from Cupid to the mysterious Dark Lady, from the Queen of England to Shakespeare himself. Wilson's signature sculpting of time, light, and gesture combined with Wainwright's romantic, sensitive, and at times disturbingly dark score transports audiences to a dreamlike place suspended in time.
Featuring the Berliner Ensemble
Direction, set design, and lighting concept by Robert Wilson
Music by Rufus Wainwright
Sonnet selection by Jutta Ferbers
Costumes by Jacques Reynaud
Co-directed by Ann-Christin Rommen
Conducted by Hans-Jörn Brandenburg and Stefan Rager
Lighting design by Andreas Fuchs