Boris Nikitin

Magda Toffler: Versuch über das Schweigen (2022)
(Magda Toffler: Essay on Silence)

Silence shrouds many a family history, as survivors create a maximum distance between themselves and the experiences of the past. In his new play, director and author Boris Nikitin revisits the form of witnessing or “coming out” in a solo format developed in parallel to his big stage productions, which challenge the conventions of documentary theater. He addresses his own previously hidden family history—a result of the 20th century and its displacements.

The performance tells the story of Nikitin’s grandmother from Bratislava. After she died in 2009 at the age of 87, the author learned that she originally came from a Jewish family and had to hide in a barn in Eastern Slovakia for months in 1944–45, while most of her family lost their lives in the German death camps. She kept all this to herself, started a family, became a professor of chemistry. She hid her origin even from her daughters, one of whom was Boris Nikitinʼs mother.

The artist sets out to explore his grandmother’s silence, questioning the extent to which this gap between words is not only found in the many war and postwar stories of the 20th century, but is a mainstay of reality.

Boris Nikitin (1979, Basel, Switzerland) is a theater director and author, considered one of the most important voices in contemporary German-language theater. Since 2007, his productions, texts, and happenings have dealt with the representation of identity and reality, blurring the boundary between illusionist theater and performance, between documentary and propaganda. In 2017, Nikitin was awarded the City of Jena’s Jakob-Michael-Reinhold-Lenz-Prize for his complete works. In 2020, he received the Swiss Theater Prize. His piece Erste Staffel. 20 Jahre Big Brother was invited to the Mülheimer Theatertage in 2021 as one of the best German-language plays.

14.10., 15.10., 16.10., 19:00

Helmut List Halle
Waagner-Biro-Straße 98a
8020 Graz
♿ Venue accessible for wheelchairs

German with English surtitles

16/12 euros

Education offer
Following the performance on 14.10.
Eat and Greet
In German
With Boris Nikitin, Barbara Stelzl-Marx (researcher on the consequences of war), and Gábor Thury
Helmut List Halle (Halle C)
Free of charge within the framework of the performance

Direction, text, performance: Boris Nikitin
Production management: Annett Hardegen
Outside eye: Annett Hardegen, Matthias Meppelink

Commissioned by Kaserne Basel, Théatre Vidy-Lausanne, HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, steirischer herbst ’22, Staatstheater Nürnberg, Frascati, Theater Chur, Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, and Omanut

Produced by Paraform Produktionen / It’s The Real Thing Studios

Supported by Fachausschuss Tanz und Theater BS/BL, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Fondation Jan Michalski, Embassy of Switzerland in Austria, and Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.
The first version of this work was commissioned by Omanut.