Gott ist nicht schüchtern (City of Jasmine)
Damascus in 2011: a vibrant city with lively shopping streets, gentrified residential neighbourhoods and a pulsating cultural scene and night-life. And residents who are organising peaceful demonstrations for reforms. When the protests against Assad’s autocratic regime began nearly ten years ago, no one would have dreamed that Syria would soon be reduced to rubble and ashes. Many saw freedom close enough to grab it, everything seemed possible and an atmosphere of hope and new departures pervaded the city. This is the situation at the outset of the story of Amal, Youssef and Hammoudi: The latter has just completed his training as a plastic surgeon in Paris; Amal has played her first lead role in a telenovela and is falling in love with Youssef who studies directing at Damascus’ renowned Academy of Performing Arts and whom she met at a demonstration. In their own different ways, all three are sucked into the spiral of violence that still reigns today and they all have to rethink and adjust their certainties, concepts and dreams to make them fit the new situation. How swiftly people can be torn from privileged circumstances by war, with no other choice than to give up everything – that is the story told in Olga Grjasnowa’s impressive novel, which she has now adapted for the stage. Her language does not obstruct this existential experience with metaphors: In everyday, sober and straightforward words, she follows her characters into a nightmare that is still a reality today.
"All we ask of our state is what the rest of the world is demanding. All we want is change, we don’t want the regime to be overthrown. Maybe it won’t come to that”, says Amal. And: "The world will not turn a blind eye."
Under the gaze of the whole world, a proxy war has been raging in Syria for nearly ten years, claiming the lives nearly 400,000 victims to date. Around 12 million people have fled their homes. On the basis of Olga Grjasnowa’s meticulously researched text, Laura Linnenbaum and the company will try to look at the beginnings and to approach the stories of people who are not as far removed from ourselves as we carelessly think.
Laura Linnenbaum has been working as a freelance director since 2011 in cities like Hanover, Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. In 2016, she was the curator for the Theatertreffen-festival "Unentdeckte Nachbarn" in Chemnitz, which received the Chemnitz Peace Prize in 2017. In 2017, she was a nominee for "Director of the Year" by the magazine Theater heute for her production of the world premiere of “Homohalal” at Staatsschauspiel Dresden. “Homohalal” was also presented at the 43rd Mülheimer Theatertage.
We regularly present performances of "City of Jasmine" with English surtitles. You can find the dates here. Our box office staff will be happy to tell you from which seats you will have a good sight-line to the surtitles. For the best view of both stage and surtitles, we recommend seats in the stalls (Parkett) from row 11, or in the balconies (1. Rang, 2. Rang). Seats in the side boxes have a partially obstructed view.
Casts & Staff
“There is a great deal of tension in the room. Olga Grjasnowa describes the regime’s brutality with full force while avoiding any gaudiness and writing entirely without frills.”
“Laura Linnenbaum creates a sense of dramatic circumstances without ever actually showing violence on stage.”
“The actors show us what is at stake when people demand freedom and what it is like to risk your life – a very oppressive show at BE that truly gets under our skin.”
“The show unfolds a kind of topicality that sticks in our minds."
“Olga Grjasnowa tells this story in a series of rapid changes of perspective and a sober, clinical language which allows the violent decline of an entire civilisation to emerge in even more graphic clarity.” (Berliner Morgenpost)