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Shakespeare's Sonnets / Berlin

  • Berliner Ensemble Bertolt-Brecht-Platz Berlin, Berlin, 10117 Germany (map)

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.


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

Earlier Event: December 7
Krapp's Last Tape / Beijing
Later Event: December 10
Shakespeare's Sonnets / Berlin