Collaboration with Maxim Gorki Theatre since the opening in 2013. ongoing

My Concept for Gorki

Theater of the Year 2014

Having successfully collaborated for several years already with Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, Esra Rotthoff was asked to pitch her concept for the soon-to-be-reopened Maxim-Gorki-Theater in the heart of Berlin on Unter den Linden. The Gorki is the smallest and most beautiful of Berlin’s state theatres, and its new artistic director, Shermin Langhoff, had come up with a striking new concept for multicultural theatre as a public space; a contemporary reflection of today’s human condition and our conflict of identity. Esra collaborated with the core Gorki team on developing all the visual aspects of the theatre. She started with the theatre’s logo, flipping the R of GORKI backwards - which in Russian is the letter ya - meaning I/me. This idea of the actors’ personal identities runs as a leitmotif through all of the Gorki’s stagings, as a mirror of the contemporary Berlin. Esra photographed and recorded every actor who graced the Gorki stage, as if in a precise biometric image. If you look closely, you see her leitmotif of the flipped R reflected in each actor’s eyes - the result of being lit by a flash with a stencilled “ya” in it, imprinting their gaze with a notion of their own identity. Each individual looks into the camera with a look that is clean, awake, unique - filled not with their persona of actor, but with personality as human. In another series she developed photographic narratives for each play, staging scenes that reflect in sometimes cheeky, sometimes consciously referential ways the types of people and experiences that make up contemporary Berlin, creating a photographic reinterpretation of the theatrical subjects.

For Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, for example, she juxtaposed the contrasting ideas of an idyllic garden and family scenes with a lone woman in a virginal white dress stained by vomited blood-red cherries. The protagonists were frequently staged with the sky visible in the background in various locations across Berlin, furthering the idea of the city itself as a stage and the sky as “bluescreen” of sorts, a consistent backdrop from which the figures pop out in sharp relief.

The images were used by the theatre as posters and billboards that spoke to the city, galvanizing dialogue and interaction between the theatre and a wide range of Berliners by birth or choice. She created artistic video trailers for the theatre, as well as a concept and visuals for each festival. Her imagery found its way back between the Gorki’s walls, in the form of a major installation. After successfully collaborating for one year, the Gorki was honored as “Theatre of the Year” by the prestigious theatre magazine Theater Heute.



lea_draeger_di-Kopie_f39L peter_jordan_Kopie_f39L cigdem_teke tamer_arslan_171013

paul_wollin-Kopie_f39L oscar_olivio_di-Kopie_f39L niels_bormann-Kopie_f39L marleen_lohse_171013

murat_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L inknur_Kopie_f39L fatma_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L cigdem_teke

anastasia_gubareva_di-Kopie_f39L bernhard_conrads_neu-Kopie_f39L cetin_kampagne-Kopie_f39L orit_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L

nora_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L elisabeth_blonzen_di-Kopie_f39L lea_draeger_di-Kopie_f39L peter_jordan_Kopie_f39L

tim_porath_di-Kopie_f39L taner_sahintuerk-Kopie_f39L suna_kamagne_di-Kopie_f39L simon_kampagne_di_f39L

sema_poyraz_di-Kopie_f39L sebastian_brandes rahel_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L pinar_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L

alexandre_radenkovic_171013 mehmet_atesci_171013 till_wonka_171013 thomas_wodianka_171013

tamer_arslan_171013 ruth_reinnecke_171013 aram_tafreshian_171013 sesede_terziyan_171013

dimitri_schaad_171013 falilou_seck_171013 mareike_beykirch_171013 mehmet_yilmaz_171013

MARINA_FRENK_171013 tamer_arslan_171013 paul_wollin-Kopie_f39L oscar_olivio_di-Kopie_f39L

MARINA_FRENK_171013 niels_bormann-Kopie_f39L mehmet_atesci_171013 marleen_lohse_171013

murat_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L mehmet_yilmaz_171013 alexandre_radenkovic_171013 mareike_beykirch_171013

inknur_Kopie_f39L fatma_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L falilou_seck_171013 dimitri_schaad_171013

cigdem_teke aram_tafreshian_171013 anastasia_gubareva_di-Kopie_f39L bernhard_conrads_neu-Kopie_f39L

cetin_kampagne-Kopie_f39L orit_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L nora_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L elisabeth_blonzen_di-Kopie_f39L

lea_draeger_di-Kopie_f39L peter_jordan_Kopie_f39L tim_porath_di-Kopie_f39L

till_wonka_171013 thomas_wodianka_171013 taner_sahintuerk-Kopie_f39L suna_kamagne_di-Kopie_f39L

simon_kampagne_di_f39L sesede_terziyan_171013 sema_poyraz_di-Kopie_f39L sebastian_brandes

ruth_reinnecke_171013 rahel_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L pinar_kampagne_di-Kopie_f39L


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