TRANSIT, my play based on the book of the same title by Anna Seghers, first performed in 2015, will have a short revival in March 2017. Note the dates:
Frankfurt, Theater Willy Praml, Naxoshalle, March 25 and 26.
Wolfsburg, Stadttheater, March 30.
Two days after opening night , August 28, 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders for the flood of refugees desperately fleeing the violence in Syria, other Middle Eastern Countries and Africa, purely on moral grounds: Merkel reminded her countrymen and -women of their own history of 75 years earlier when, in WW II, Jews and Hitler’s political adversaries had to flee Germany for fear of persecution. They couldn’t live any longer in the country where they were born and wanted to work, to study, to love, have a family. It would be inhuman to refuse these refugees entry into Germany, just as it was a gesture of humanity of European countries in the thirties to open their borders for German refugees. This grandiose gesture of the Chancellor soon was followed by a political crisis which lasts till today. Merkel’s decision provoked a strong political reaction, out of fear, to keep the refugees out. In 2017 political parties have appropriated the fear of the people, they own this controversy and fight it out in elections. Many don’t want strangers, refugees don’t feel welcome. This has become a European and worldwide trend.
The play TRANSIT has gained an unexpected new actuality. Not so much because of its political aspects and implications, but because of its humanism: the political context of Jews and Communists in France persecuted by the invading Germans in 1940 is different from the ideological backdrop of today: Jews would be Muslims, Communists would be Terrorists, ‘adversaries of the regime’ would be ‘economic refugees.’ But the situation is similar: what happened to the German refugees in France, happens today in Germany and Europe with the refugees from Syria: they are sent back, have to move on to other countries, or they have to hide.
TRANSIT is about people who have to move on, while they thought they had found a safe haven in France. Anna Seghers was one of them. In her novel she follows the fate of the people she met on her flight – their plight, their fears, their desires, their desperation, their cunning, how they could save their skin, how they could get from Paris to Marseille, how they had to deal with the bureaucratic hurdles to get the right papers, how to get food and money to buy a ticket for the boat that would bring them to the ‘free world.’ The characters in the book and in the play are individual people, who fight for themselves, for their naked existence, they are people who want to live, work, study, love, just like today’s refugees. Sometimes they loose everything they have on their way, sometimes even their lives. TRANSIT is about humanity beyond politics.
TRANSIT is a collaboration between Theater Willy Praml and Wu Wei Theater, both from Frankfurt a.M, with Dutch director and writer Paul Binnerts.
Actors: Reinhold Behling, Jakob Gail, Birgit Heuser, Sam Michelson, Willy Praml, Angelika Sieburg, Verena Specht-Ronique, Michael Weber, Andreas Wellano.
Stage design and Costumes: Michael Weber; Stage manager: Hannah Brown; Choreography: Heike Hennig; Video design: Seweryn Zelazny; Light: Johannes Schmidt; Miniature worlds: Paula Kern; Musical advisor:Dietrich Stern