By A.J. Goldmann
July 13, 2018
MUNICH — In the summer of 2015, the world watched in astonishment as Germans cheered crowds of refugees streaming into train stations throughout the country. Scenes from that unprecedented — and short-lived — moment of welcome form part of “What They Want to Hear,” one of two current productions about exile and its ordeals at the Münchner Kammerspiele, one of Munich’s, and Germany’s, most important theaters.
Since 2015, Matthias Lilienthal, the company’s artistic director, has turned the theater into a forum for creative experimentation, social engagement and political inquiry. The spotlight that these productions shine on the struggles of refugees seems especially urgent given that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open border policy is under attack, especially here in the state of Bavaria.
One of Mr. Lilienthal’s recent initiatives has been the Open Border Ensemble, a group of five Syrian actors who have been invited to realize projects at the Kammerspiele. “What They Want to Hear,” a collaboration between Raaed Al Kour, a Syrian archaeologist, and Lola Arias, an Argentine director, is the ensemble’s second major production this season.
Mr. Al Kour arrived in Germany four years ago and has been caught in bureaucratic limbo ever since as he waits for his application for refugee status to be decided. Directed by Ms. Arias, he presents the story of his absurd saga in “What They Want to Hear.”