Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Maxim Gorki Theater Leads an Immigrant Vanguard in Berlin

Shermin Langhoff, a native of Turkey and the artistic director of the Maxim Gorki Theater, is putting immigrant actors and playwrights in the spotlight.

BERLIN — Standing in her office at the Maxim Gorki Theater here, a pack of Gauloises cigarettes in hand, Shermin Langhoff gestured at an image of one of Jeff Koons’s gleaming balloon sculptures hanging on her wall.

Slowing the pace of her usually rapid German, she said: “It’s lunacy. This object is 20 years old, and for 20 years nothing has happened in art, other than in the performing arts. 
Ms. Langhoff, 45, who immigrated from Turkey as a child, was contrasting what she sees as visual art’s static legacy with that of the firebrand theater she took over in 2013 and has since made a nexus for plays tackling issues like immigration, race and assimilation. A small but influential house in the Mitte district in the city center, it is one of the five major theaters here run primarily with public money.

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