Guest lecture „Wasted Lives, Drowned: Plays on the Refugee Crisis and the Bare Life on Stage“

guestlecture_juliabollIt gives me great pleasure to invite all of you to the upcoming guest lecture “Wasted Lives, Drowned: Plays on the Refugee Crisis and the Bare Life on Stage” which is scheduled for Tuesday, 20th December 2016, at 10:15 a.m. at GW2, B2900. The lecture will be held by Dr Julia Boll.


Marco Martinelli’s haunting play „Rumore di acque“ (Noise in the Waters, 2010) is the portrayal of an embittered modern Charon cataloguing those who drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach European shores. Shocking and poignant, the play explores the fate of contemporary refugees at a time when the political, geographical and cultural space commonly called ‘the West’ has turned into a huge gated community. Those ‚ousted‘ from the ‚Fortress West‘, maybe even rendered stateless by denaturalisation decrees, may become refugees or asylum seekers and so find themselves outside the law. The statelessness of refugees is not always to be accredited to the active stripping-away of rights. Zygmunt Bauman points out that ‚their statelessness is raised to an entirely new level‘ at a time of crumbling or failed states with no state authority to speak of and no body of state to which the refugees could be referred. They are thus truly ‚hors du nomos – outside law; not this or that law of this or that country, but law as such‘.

Correspondingly, French theatre maker Ariane Mnouchkine’s epic production „Le Dernier Caravansérail (Odyssées)“ (2003-2005) for her Théâtre du Soleil depicts refugee odysseys across dangerous waters in the desperate search for a new homeland, which turns out to be a place where the refugee is not regarded as deserving of citizen status. In Mnouchkine’s production, the refugees are imagined from a perspective of respect and recognition, and while we witness their odysseys and their often inconceivable plight, the affecting production also lets us experience a sense of hope.

In this talk, I will draw a line between Bauman’s concept of ‘wasted lives’ and the figure Giorgio Agamben has called the homo sacer, or the bare life. The bare life appears in contemporary plays as a victim of war and conflict or as a person or group of people that have been legally ostracised from or have never been part of the community (such as asylum seekers, refugees, illegal immigrants, etc.). Agamben points out that Western politics is based on the simultaneous exclusion and inclusion of bare life into its legislation. Patterns of the depiction of the bare life can be traced across the whole of the Western sphere, allowing for parallels to be drawn between the present-day Western realm and the ancient polis as to their mutual policies concerning the consolidation of borders, citizenship based on exclusion, and a consensus about the human value of those excluded. By contemplating recent plays on the refugee crisis, we may come to an understanding of the way Western civilization defines itself politically and culturally with respect to those it excludes, and we might find an answer as to why a post-modern society sees fit to let people drown at its borders.

Biographical brief Dr Julia Boll

Julia Boll holds a doctorate in drama from the University of Edinburgh, but did her Magister Degree here at the University of Bremen. She was a director of the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School, a teaching assistant at Edinburgh, and also worked for the Edinburgh Review. In 2013, she joined the University of Konstanz to research the representation of the bare life on stage, a project for which, as PI, she has recently received funding from the German Research Foundation. Since 2012, she has also been a member of the multi-disciplinary research project Fiction Meets Science (Univs. of Bremen and Oldenburg). Julia has spoken and published on the theatrical representation of war and violence, on grief and pornography, theatre and transnationalism, questions of ethics in literature on science, neoliberalism in European playwriting, utopia at the theatre, the performance of knowledge, community and the theatre, and the bare life on stage. Her monograph „The New War Plays“ was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.

Offene Castings

25., 26. & 29. November für englischsprachige Theaterproduktion

Maiden Thought Theatre und Theatrale Bretter e.V. casten für „Gallathea“ von John Lyly im Mai 2017.

Gesucht werden:

– 16 SchauspielerInnen in Bremen und Umzu, Spielalter 16–80

– volljährig im Mai 2017

– sichere Englischkenntnisse erforderlich, Fremdsprachler willkommen

Bei Interesse bitte eine E-Mail mit Name, Telefonnummer und bevorzugtem Datum an:

– 1. Workshop 16.–18. Dezember

–  Auf Berufstätige und SchülerInnen kann bei den Probenzeiten Rücksicht genommen werden.

Twelfth Night June 21st – 24th, starting at 7. p. m.

21st24th June, starting at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6.30 p.m.)
Schnürschuhtheater, Buntentorsteinweg 145, 28201 Bremen

The Parlement of Foules, Bremen University’s English drama troupe, is celebrating William Shakespeare’s 400th ‘departure’ year – ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ – with the production of a second of his plays, namely Twelfth Night (or What You Will…).

Tickets – still at the price of €12 (€8 for students and pupils) –
can be booked direct from the theatre: 0421-55 54 10 or online at

Director Michael Claridge [claridge[at]] writes:

“Using a slightly simplified text, we have updated the setting to shortly after the First World War. Sebastian and Viola, sailing on the good ship ‘Titania’, have the misfortune to hit a mine … The rest, as they arrive independently of each other in Illyria, is anything but silence, as a potentially tragic situation explodes into a world of comedy, self-love, passion, misrule and music, all packaged in some of the most moving but also wittiest and most poetic language – ‘That, that is, is,’ philosophizes Feste the fool, only to remark shortly thereafter that ‘Nothing that is, is’ … We are in a world of make-believe and self-delusion, one where appearances are all too deceptive.

But how will the situation be resolved? Five minutes from the end, it seems as if a host of hearts are about to be broken … How can Shakespeare manage to save the situation and restore order, peace and tranquillity?

This promises to be one of the most exhilarating productions the Foules have staged in their 18 years, the acting underpinned by plenty of live music and dance, as we bring Shakespeare’s language and his story riotously alive, yet underline its timeless messages.

„ Our Schools Pack, containing information about the play, our take on it, the plot and characters, and background material on Shakespeare’s time(s), is now available! If you would like an electronic copy, please contact the Pack editor, Franziska Ptok (who will also be playing Olivia), on franzi.ptok[at]

After each performance ends, there will be the opportunity for anyone from the audience to meet some of the cast and production crew onstage and discuss their experiences, their approach to the play, what it’s like to perform Shakespeare… in English… and other such aspects.

We look forward very much to seeing you in the Schnürschuh – even if (or especially because) Germany is playing Northern Ireland on the first night … !?!”

P.S. from Irish Culture Vultures messenger Ian Watson: So I’ll be there on the Second, Third or Fourth Night (or: What? You, Will?

Cultures Vultures – Poetry on the Road

Zwischen Donnerstag, dem 26.5. (Prelaunch: Poetry in the Kunsthalle) und Montag, dem 30 Mai (Poetry im Kippenberg-Gymnasium) treten 30 weltbekannte Dichter und Dichterinnen aus der ganzen Welt auf mehreren Bühnen in Bremen auf. Wie immer bietet das Festival 2016 viele Attraktionen und Höhepunkte, darunter die traditionelle große Eröffnung am Freitag, 27.5. um 20 Uhr im Theater am Goetheplatz mit. An diesem Abend lesen und performen: Adam Zagajewski, Polen; Alfred Brendel, Österreich; Georg Ringsgwandl, Deutschland; Kei Miller, Jamaika/Großbritannien; Linda Boström Knausgård, Schweden; Michael Augustin, Deutschland; Nora Bossong, Deutschland; Raoul Schrott, Österreich; Wiglaf Droste, Deutschland. Moderation: Silke Behl, Radio Bremen/Virtuelles Literaturhaus Bremen.

This year’s Anglophone poets are Tao Lin, Kei Miller and a legend from Ireland: John Sheahan, fiddler in the cult band The Dubliners.

Und ein persönliches Welcome home! an unsere eigene Bremer Nora Bossong.

Das volle Programm sowie Information über die Autor/inn/en finden Sie unter | You’ll find the complete programme and info about all the authors at

Kartenvorverkauf bei | Tickets at Buchhandlung Geist am Schnoor, Balgebrückstraße 16, 28195 Bremen, 0421 32 71 73 | & Theaterkasse, Goetheplatz 1-3, 28203 Bremen, 0421 365 3333

  1. auch

Bis dann / See you there,

Ian Watson, für / for Culture Vultures