While the Tricycle will be staging a duo of Irish plays early next year (See News, 8 Dec 2009), across town in Dalston, the Arcola Theatre plans to start 2010 by shining a spotlight on German-speaking theatre.

In January and February the Arcola will stage two modern German plays - Innocence by Dea Loher and Heldenplatz by Thomas Bernhard. Loher is one of the most celebrated and provocative German playwrights of the 20th century, while Bernhard is one of the most influential post-war German-speaking authors. Innocence and Heldenplatz are being directed by Helena Kaut-Howson and Annie Castledine, respectively.

Innocence, which runs from 8 to 30 January 2010 (previews from 6 January) in a translation by David Tushingham, is a montage epic about contemporary Western society; a black comedy for the twenty-first century. Through interlinked story lines from the fringe of society, the play asks rhetorical questions about conscience and compassion in today’s world.

Helena Kaut-Howson directs a leading ensemble of Ann Mitchell, Jane Bertish, Miranda Cook, Michael Fitzgerald, Alexander Gilmour, Chris Hannon, Caroline Kilpatrick, Meredith MacNeill, Nathaniel Martello-White, Ellen Sheean and Danny Lee Wynter.

It's followed, from 12 February to 6 March (previews from 10 February), by Heldenplatz. Bernhard’s last play, it was condemned by then-Chancellor Kurt Waldheim as an affront to the Austrian people. With the surrounding controversy, Bernhard changed his will to ban all publications and performances of his work, which centres on an an intellectual Viennese Jewish family, in his native Austria.

Heldenplatz is translated by Andrea Tierney and Meredith Oakes and co-directed by Annabel Arden, with a cast led by Barbara Marten and  Caroline Horton.  

In addition to the two plays, the Arcola bar will be hosting two cabaret-style events. Ich Bin Ein Berliner (10 & 17 January), which promises an evening full of German songs, scenes, poems, and drinks. There, on 15 and 16 January, there will be a post-show Kurt Tucholsky Evening. Tcholsky was a highly recognized cabaret songwriter, and his work will be making its UK premiere on these evenings.

- by Liz Wahlman