“Main character syndrome” is a social media/pop culture invention in which a person behaves as if they were the main character of a fictional story. The performance uses this notion to explore and challenge senses of selfhood and togetherness in times of pornographic narcissism. It blurs the lines between personal and fictional, experienced and represented, individual and relational.
Criptonite is a crip-queer theatre project by Edwin Ramirez and Nina Mühlemann. In their current manifestations as Dionysos and Medusa, they invite the audience into the underworld. Surrounded by the rivers of hatred, wailing, fire and oblivion, we find ourselves on the islands of pleasure, celebrating the intersection of pain, pleasure and kink. What does it mean to negotiate consensual giving and receiving together in a pleasurable way, through movement and care? Where do we find moments of pleasure despite pain or exhaustion?
With the Sophienstraßenfest we call the neighborhood around the Sophiensæle into the street. For one day we celebrate the neighborhood of Spandauer Vorstadt, its residents and their stories. In the afternoon, neighborhood choirs (Kiezchöre) sing in Sophienstraße and a photo exhibition shows its transformation. For the crowning finale, we invite you to a joint street dinner in the evening: everyone brings their own seating furniture, dishes and culinary delights of choice – with just enough for your direct neighbors to enjoy as well. Together with neighbors and guests, we form the longest dinner table in Berlin.
After the success of The River I in the summer of 2022, this special boat tour now returns on Berlin’s waters. The team surrounding Aimé C. Songe invites you to an encounter in a rowing boat, alone or in pairs with a friend or loved one, just in time for sunset. Together with various artists, participants embark on a dreamlike journey to question the concept of an active and productive life, while to taking time to unwind.
June 13 | 16.00 - 21.00 June 14 | 18.00 - 21.00 June 16 | 16.00 - 22.00 June 17 | 18.00 - 22.00
Kantine | Eintritt frei
Sickness Affinity Group (SAG) is a group of art workers and activists who work on the topic of sickness/disability and/or are affected by sickness/disability. In a cozy installation – with places for rest and hanging out, stimming and wiggling – SAG now looks back on their six years of existence. At the Zine-Library, in collective co-writing and co-reading sessions or group meditations: We invite you to share sick, sleepy, caring crip time with us.
Lay Me Low looks at the terror of standing still and standing up for yourself or others when physical and emotional balance is a struggle. The performance also ponders on why taking a break, resting and cutting oneself some slack is such a pain today. Hence it looks at the techniques, as well as joys and fears of going down and feeling horizontal.
EveryBody’s Fantasy explores erotic fantasies and questions how we look and experience them. The performance is inspired by Gertrude Stein’s 1937 Everybody’s Autobiography. Considering the biographical, the life-lived as an accessible format for others to enter, visit or witness with care and understanding, this work looks toward what would happen, what we could anticipate happening again and the fantasy that rests just beside.
The collaborating queer BIPoC disabled group KIWI – Knowing institutions from within invites to an open meeting in the SAG space on Wednesday June 14. The group, hosted by Tizo All, is an attempt to bring folks to share their experiences in working with institutions.
This self-governed talk between Liz Rosenfeld and Jen Rosenblit offers an encounter to reflect on what it is to hold one’s own flesh and what it is to witness that intimacy. What these two artists show and how they show it in their work. The functions of their bodies as desired objects and how they approach similar topics from completely different practices and perspectives. What are their magics and how do they enact them?
Planets, water, plants, inanimate objects, human animals – everything vibrates and resonates with each other. In different states we vibrate differently: in sadness differently than in joy, in fear differently than in ecstasy. Siegmar Zacharias, together with scent alchemist Liza Witte, textile artist Lea Kieffer, and musician Steve Heather, invites us to listen with our whole bodies and become a space of collective transformation as resonant bodies for one another.
h0chbegabt deal with social structures and translate them into humorous fantasy worlds. Their latest work, VAMPIRE(N), is a mockumentary about the casting and production process of the new vampire film “Vampires in the Dark”. The mockumentary portrays two potential protagonists – real vampires – and provides insight into their lives. We accompany the two and the beginning of their special friendship in the face of discrimination and prejudice.
Who has always used the night as a place of resistance? What rituals were and are practiced under the protection of the night? Inspired by the “Take back the Night” demonstrations that have been taking place on Walpurgis Night since the 1970s, the result is an interactive audio night-walk about nocturnal politics of pleasure and lust. Inspired by the figure of the witch, the young ensemble explores the allure of the night in hidden places in Berlin’s urban space, re-enacts various rituals, tests utopias and conquers the night.
Since 2021, Sickness Affinity Group (SAG) has organized a regular reading group engaging with critical thinking in queer and crip studies. In their first in-person reading group session, to be held at Leisure and Pleasure, they will collectively investigate ideas and feelings around different experiences intertwined with walking.
Hans Unstern's lyrics oscillate between modern fairy tales, criticism of the myth of the binary gender system and of their own working conditions in capitalism. A concert between lyrical softness and punk moments, from pompous slide harp clouds to improvised free sequences.
In Vanilla three performers explore the relationship of pleasure, sexual desire and food to question normativity in sexual practices.Through the intimate and vulnerable sharing of personal and fictional sex stories, the performance conducts a warm and soft exercise of imagination.
In this immersive live work, fragmented landscapes are built and unbuilt; transforming the basement of Sophiensæle into a dark room where people are invited to move through, cruise and lounge together. Inspired by the defiance of communal gatherings, public sex and specifically the politics of taking up space, an*dre neely and Liz Rosenfeld consider their own differently-gendered, differently-aged, differently-transitioning bodies and relationships. They are bound by notions of chosen family and resonating with desires of how to care for and be cared for by one another, or how to carry and tell each others stories.
June 24 | 16.00 June 24 | 18.00 June 25 | 11.00 June 25 | 13.00 June 30 | 19.00 June 30 | 21.00 July 01 | 14.00 July 01 | 19.00
Kantine | 15/10 €
Colonastics is the world’s first fitness workout without the exoticizing bullshit of Zumba, the pseudo-spiritual, esoteric shenanigans of white yoginis and neo-colonial appropriations! Why? Because it feeds solely on the physicality of white cultural practices. Stiffen your joints, throw your limbs around uncontrollably and perfect your air guitar. Feel white supremacy flowing through our collective consciousness and become part of a movement that will revolutionize the fi tness world!
Orientation is the perception of space through the body. Ceylan Öztrük, who received the 2022 Swiss Art Award, proposes a rethink of spatiality through disorientation. As disorientation involves becoming an object or a sculpture, a dreamy perception is created by text, choreography, costumes and an impressive stage installation. A narrative unfolds about the collision and fusion between the body and the building, the person and the institution, the bent and the stiff.
In 2020, a group of suddenly unemployed Berlin-based dancers started to regularly meet in public space to play Double Dutch – a rope-skipping game played with two ropes swung in opposite directions. What started as a response to the Corona lockdowns, has since blossomed into an ongoing practice where five artists regularly explore the jumping game’s connection to club culture – from early hip hop to techno; but also joy, creativity, non-productive artmaking, playfulness and togetherness as a safe haven within the twisted lifestyle of freelance dancers.
For the festival and season closing, the Sophiensæle open their backyards and bars to everyone from 15 h. There will be an artistic program, drinks, snacks – and from 20.30 h also major and minor gala moments and surprises with artists, the Sophiensæle team and many friends.
Leisure & Pleasure
MAY 25–JULY 01
As a joyful finale of the last season under the artistic direction of Franziska Werner, Sophiensæle invites you to a festival on the political dimensions of Leisure & Pleasure. For six weeks, the festival explores the connections of pleasure and activism, questions art’s ability to heal societal exhaustion – and dreams of life beyond work.
The next edition of Tanztage Berlin is currently planned for 4-20 January 2024, and it will again take place under the artistic direction of Mateusz Szymanówka. This year's open call will be published at the beginning of August.
Sophiensæle is a production and performance space for the independent performing arts. Here, artists and groups from Berlin as well as from the national and international scene produce and present innovative and experimental artistic concepts, aesthetics, styles and formats. The program includes dance, performance, theater, music theater and discursive formats. As a place that considers itself open and welcoming, Sophiensæle seeks intensive contact with artists and audiences as well as dialogue on socially relevant topics. In addition to the focus on promoting young talent, many renowned companies and artists work at the house in long-term collaborations.
Sophiensaele present over 100 projects annually and host various in-house and external festivals.
Currently, up-and-coming artists including Olympia Bukkakis, Olivia Hyunsin Kim, hannsjana, Kareth Schaffer, Zwoisy Mears-Clarke, Nele Stuhler or Ania Nowak are producing works at Sophiensæle. Our long-term collaborators include the artists Jule Flierl, Laurie Young, Hendrik Quast and Maika Knoblich, Monster Truck, Turbo Pascal, Hauen+Stechen, Interrobang, Clement Layes, Christoph Winkler, Henrike Iglesias, Flinn Works, Margret Sara Gudjonsdottir, Sebastian Matthias, Johannes Müller and Philine Rinnert, Vanessa Stern, Simone Dede Ayivi, and Melanie Jame Wolf. In recent years, Sophiensæle has been invited to participate in Theatertreffen with the artists Florentina Holzinger, Thorsten Lensing and Milo Rau/IIPM. In 2017 the house received the Theaterpreis des Bundes.
Sophiensæle is part of a network of internationally oriented, independent theatres, including Kampnagel Hamburg, Mousonturm Frankfurt/Main, FFT Düsseldorf, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee Zurich and brut Vienna. In addition, Sophiensæle produces Tanztage Berlin as well as a variety of annual festivals and focus programmes on specific themes. We are also proud to be a venue for the renowned Berlin festival Tanz im August. Together with brut Wien, FFT Düsseldorf, Gessnerallee Zürich, HochX München, LOFFT Leipzig, Schwankhalle Bremen and Theater Rampe Stuttgart, Sophiensæle plays a role in the production platform Freischwimmen. Since 2018, the platform has been reshaphing itself as an international exchange and production platform for artists and young groups from theatre and performance.
Since 2011, Sophiensæle has been directed by Franziska Werner. Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig, together with Jo Fabian and Dirk Cieslak, founded SOPHIENSÆLE as a theatre in 1996 in the former building of the craftsman's association of Sophienstraße 18. From 2000 to 2007 Amelie Deuflhard took over the artistic direction of the house, followed by Heike Albrecht (until 2010).
Sophiensæle is a house for artists and audiences, where the encounter between the two groups takes centre stage. While the building was partially renovated in 2011 with great care, it still maintains its original spirit. The changing history of the building and its original purpose as a place for meetings, further education and celebrations can still be felt in the building's architecture, on the walls and ceilings of the rooms, creating a unique setting for artistic production and encounters.
IMPULSE GIVER and CATALYST Our work continues to focus on the promotion of young artists and support for innovative artistic forms and questions. In doing so, we encourage and support new artistic impulses and concepts while also building on long-standing collaborations, nurturing the further development of high artistic quality. Networking with artists, cultural actors and project spaces of various artistic genres enables us to develop as a central hub for the independent scene and function as a platform for current trends in Berlin’s independent dance, music, theatre and performance scene.
OPEN ROOM OF POSSIBILITES We continue the tradition of the house as a place of assembly: As an open and receptive place, the Sophiensæle promotes a diverse examination of contemporary artistic aesthetics, content and positions, seeking intensive contact with artists* and the public. We invite artists to exchange ideas, to contribute their networks and to see the future Sophiensæle not only as a performance venue, but also as a place to design and develop together with us.
POINT OF INTERSECTION Artistic work means reflected contemporaneity: Sophiensæle was founded in 1996 in the spirit of an artistic community, intended to create an innovative centre and a professional infrastructure for free production. We continue on with this founding spirit! Sophiensæle sees itself as a mouthpiece for the concerns of independent production structures in Berlin, promoting the positions of the independent Berlin scene in both a national and international context. With and through Sophiensæle, these bundled impulses receive attention and offer radiance.
FORMAT AND FESTIVALS The development of innovative formats, performance series and festivals plays a major role in the Sophiensæle. The Tanztage Berlin festival and the Freischwimmen platform continue to be central to our promotion of young talent. In addition, we are experimenting with other new formats, festivals and series.
Sophiensæle is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.