Dancer in the Dark


Thalia Theater (Hamburg)

Directed by Bastian Kraft

Written by Patrick Ellsworth based on the film by Lars von Trier


18th Oct. 2018, 20:00

19th Oct. 2018, 21:00

20th Oct. 2018, 21:00

WHERE: N Theatre 

Duration: 100 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in German, with Chinese and English subtitles


Potentially the most shocking theatrical moment of recent months… It’s incredible how the actors manage to perform in total darkness. The audience is immersed in the complete physical experience of what it means to go blind.

— Peter Helling, NDR 90,3

Here the courage to be unconventional is rewarded, the idea is revealed and it gives the theatre evening something unique, inimitable, a level of expertise that goes beyond the pure retelling of the film story.

— Maike Schiller, Hamburger Abendblatt

Hagmeister’s tones correspond to the full spectrum of colours; all emotions, everything from the hopes to the fears that sensitive people must constantly reconcile. In the dark, they dance a crystalline freestyle of words, which evokes a world of empathy even with your eyes closed.

— Till Briegleb, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Hagmeister is perfect casting as Selma: tender yet tough, wounded but still powerful. The way in which Kraft manages to present Selma’s world is a technical miracle. In particular the way he exploits the possibilities of the lighting design is quite remarkable.

— Katja Weise, NDR Culture

A strong cinematic concept (...) The recordings intensify and make palpable the bad fortune that befalls the protagonist.

— Katrin Ullmann, nachtkritik

About Dancer in the Dark 

America in the year 1960. Selma Jezkova has big problems. The Czech immigrant is suffering from an eye condition that is gradually making her blind. Her 12-year old son has also inherited the condition. In order to save up the money for an operation to save her child’s sight, she is working double shifts in a metal factory. She hides her poor eyesight for fear of losing her job. But she has a great passion: the fantasy world of American musicals in which nothing awful ever happens, and she carries the music around with her through her depressing daily life.

When Selma’s hard-earned money is stolen by one of her neighbours, reality and fantasy collide. Selma becomes a killer. 

Director Lars von Trier wrote and filmed this piece as a modern, melodramatic musical with the singer Björk in the lead role. It is Bastian Kraft’s second encounter with the Danish Dogma director, following his acclaimed production Dogville at the Schauspiel Cologne.

About Bastian Kraft

Born in Göppingen in 1980, Bastian Kraft studied Applied Theatre Studies in Gießen. In this theatre training, best compared with an art academy that aims to develop independent artistic approaches via formal and textual experiments, his tutors included Heiner Goebbels, Viviane de Muynck and René Pollesch. He staged his first productions during his course. He then spent three seasons working as an assistant director at the Vienna Burgtheater, where he staged the evening schöner lügen. Hochstapler bekennen in 2008 and Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray in 2010. His production America, based on the novel by Franz Kafka, was invited to the 2010 ‘Radikal jung’ festival at the Munich Volkstheater and in 2012 he won the audience prize there with his adaptation of Thomas Mann’s Felix Kull. He went on to direct in Vienna, Graz and Frankfurt, at the Zurich Schauspielhaus, the Stuttgart State Theatre and at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin.

He directed the premiere of Axolotl Roadkill (2010/11) based on the novel by Helene Hegemann, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (2011/12) and Fassbinder’s Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (2013/14) at Thalia in Gaußstraße. The 2012/13 season saw him direct on the Thalia main stage for the first time, with Kleist’s Der zerbrochne Krug. This was followed by Jedermann, by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a co-production with the Salzburg Festspielen, and by Das Käthchen von Heilbronn.


By Patrick Ellsworth

Based on the film by Lars von Trier

Director: Bastian Kraft

Stage supervisor: Philipp Haußner

Assistant technical director: Nils Glombik

Assistant director: Peter Thiers

Stage technician: Tanja Kogelnik

Lighting technician: Christin Lewke, Benjamin Blessing

Video technician: Malwine Mangold-Volk

Sound technician: Tim Jarchow

Props: Ben Nobiling

Dresser: Claudia Nobel, Carmen Winter

Make-up: Birgit Stenzel

Prompter: Margit Kreß

Coordinator: Li Kou-Vesper

Cast: Lisa Hagmeister – Selma

         Victoria Trauttmansdorff – Kathy / Judge

         Patrick Bartsch – Jeff / Prosecutor

         Oliver Mallison – Bill / Jury / Lawyer / Officer

         Sandra Flubacher – Linda / Brenda

         Rasmus Meyer-Loos – Gene

About Thalia Theater

When Cheri Maurice was granted the license for a theatre in Hamburg in 1843, he was forbidden to stage serious plays in order to protect the Stadttheater on Dammtorstraße. As a result, he named his theatre after the Greek muse of comedy, Thalia, and opened its doors on November 9, 1843, in a spot directly opposite its current location.

Thanks to Maurice and his successors’ good work, it was possible to build a new, bigger theatre in 1912, on what is now Gerhart-Hauptmann Platz. It was opened by Leopold Jessner. However, the theatre was largely destroyed during the Second World War, restored towards the end of the 1950s and re-opened in December of 1960. Willy Maertens acted as Manager Director from 1946, Kurt Raeck took on the role from 1964 to 1969 and he was followed by Boy Gobert. Gobert opened up the theatre for contemporary directors’ theatre, working with directors such as Peter Zadek, Hans Neuenfels and Jürgen Flimm. 1972 saw the opening of a studio stage, the TiK – Thalia in der Kunsthalle, as a second venue. Peter Striebeck led the theatre from 1980 to 1985, having been selected by the ensemble. He passed the role on to Jürgen Flimm.

If up until this point Thalia had been seen as a rather bourgeois theatre, Flimm steered it in a more modern direction, with directors such as Jürgen Gosch, Alexander Lang, Ruth Berghaus, Thomas Langhoff and George Tabori. Robert Wilson’s musicals (collaborations with Tom Waits and Lou Reed) are the stuff of legend and have embarked on tours all over the world. The theatre was frequently invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen and was awarded the accolade of Theatre of the Year. Along the way, Thalia Theater became Germany’s most commercially successful theatre for straight plays.

After Jürgen Flimm, Ulrich Khuon took over the theatre and opened Thalia in der Gaußstraße in his first season. He also put his faith in directors with their own distinctive style (Andreas Kriegenburg, Stephan Kimmig, Michael Thalheimer, Armin Petras) and increased the number of world premieres taking place. He supported up and coming writers with Autorentheatertagen and, working with the Körber-Stiftung, he provided a platform for young directors with the Körber Studio Junge Regie. The theatre continued to be frequently invited to Theatertreffen and selected for Theatre of the Year. It remained a financial success.

Joachim Lux has been the Managing Director at Thalia Theater since the summer of 2009. He began signing up brilliant directors to the theatre in his very first season. Luk Perceval as lead director, Nicolas Stemann, Jan Bosse, Dimiter Gotscheff are just a few of the names. Lux is passionate about promoting understanding between cultures, social classes and religions. This is also what the intercultural festival, For the world – Lessing Days, stands for; it has taken place at Thalia Theater between the end of January and the beginning of February every year since 2010, based on Lessing’s progressive ideas and hosting renowned international guest productions. Furthermore, the topics and plays covered in our play seasons reflect the tendency to occupy oneself more with the “world” and less with inner, psychological realms. Many invitations to perform abroad—including from Russia, China, Bogotá and many European countries—as well as countless awards for our actors, productions, directors and set designers, are all testament to the ongoing work by Thalia Theater and its staff.