Goethe-Institut Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Nathan Award-winning editor and critic Randy Gener will represent the U.S. media in the first-ever German and American Media Dialogue, organized by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, D.C.

Goethe-Institut Washington

The Media Dialogue is part of a a series of D.C. events, taking place on the weekend of November 6 and 7, and is organized in cooperation with the Studio Theater and the Goethe-Institut.  Devoted to contemporary theater, the event begins with the press premiere of The Golden Dragon by German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig at the Studio Theater on Sunday, November 6. Schimmelpfennig will be in attendance.

The Media Dialogue itself, which takes place at the Goethe-Institut of Washington, D.C., on Monday November 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., consists of a public discussion among German and American theater critics.

The discussion will address current trends in contemporary theater in Germany and in the U.S.  It will also launch a sustained dialogue among theater critics between the two countries. It will be taped and made available electronically over the Internet. It is planned to provide simultaneous translation for the event. The German critics who are confirmed to participate are Peter Kümmel, theater critic for the newspaper Die Zeit, and Peter Michalzik, journalist and theater critic for the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

The Golden Dragon takes place in the cramped kitchen of an Asian restaurant, where four cooks pull the tooth of a young Chinese co-worker. “His tooth,” adds the play’s description in the Studio Theater website, “ends up in the Thai soup of a flight attendant—who overhears the fight of a young couple who live above the restaurant, whose fighting disturbs the shopkeeper of the dry goods store next door to the restaurant, who is more connected to the young Chinese man than anyone suspects. A kaleidoscopic look at a globalized world, this play by one of Germany’s most innovative and adventurous writers unfolds in brief and fierce comic scenes. Five actors cross age, race, and gender to play 15 characters in this vicious, poetic, and surprisingly moving investigation of how intertwined our lives really are.”

Directed by Serge Seiden, the U.S. premiere of The Golden Dragon features Deb Booth’s set design, Michael Giannitti’s lighting design, Helen Huang‘s costume design, and Evan Rogers’s sound design. The cast includes Sarah Marshall, Joseph Anthony Foronda, Amir Darvish, KK Moggie and Chris Myers. The play runs November 2 – December 11, 2011. Studio Theatre is located at 1501 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: (202) 332-3300. V/TTY: 202-667-8436. Email: studio@studiotheatre.org.

Roland Schimmelpfennig is Germany’s most produced playwright. His plays have been translated into over 20 languages and performed in 40 countries. His plays include Hier und Jetzt (Here and Now), Die Frau von früher (The Woman from the Past), Vorher/Nachher (Before/Afterwards), Die arabische Nacht (The Arabian Night), Push up 1-3, Peggy Pickit sieht das Gesicht Gottes (Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God), and Der goldene Drache (The Golden Dragon). His writing has won most of the prestigious prizes in Germany, including the 1997 Else-Lasker-Schüler-Preis for Fisch um Fisch (Fish for Fish), the Nestroy Prize for best young author in 2002, and the Nestroy Prize for the best play for Besuch bei dem Vater (Visit at the Father) in 2009. The Golden Dragon was awarded the Mühlheimer Dramatists Award and was chosen as Theater Heute’s Play of the Year. In 2010, Schimmelpfennig received the highest playwriting award in Germany, the Else-Lasker-Schüler-Prize, to honor his body of work.

Known for his surprising juxtapositions of lyricism and violence, as well as his breadth of storytelling techniques, Schimmelpfennig’s work shares recurrent themes of alienation and connection, desire and regret, along with the peculiar ways his language unfolds. Marked by a direct and almost clipped diction, his language can be both brutal and near-mythic by turns. His characters are frequently isolated from one another, but share a set of images and experiences that suggest a connection they rarely recognize, even when they’re literally sharing dreams.

London production of The Golden Dragon

David Tushingham, who has translated many of Schimmelpfennig’s work into English (including The Golden Dragon), links his language and thematic interests: “His work is always functioning on different levels at the same time. Structurally, you’ll have elements of a fairy tale and elements that are more realistic. But his language combines elements of contemporary life in a way that is quite elegant, both humorous and surprisingly serious at the same time.”

Both the German American Media Dialogue and the Studio Theatre production of The Golden Dragon are also part of Zeitgeist DC Contemporary Literature Series, a program dedicated to fostering cross-cultural experiences by bringing to the Washington, D.C. community the most interesting, serious-minded literary artists speaking about pressing contemporary issues.

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