My recent trip to Frankfurt with Germany Tourism came with many new experiences and dispelled many preconceived notions about this city. It’s always said to be just a big city with nothing to see – however I found numerous unique things to see and do and will write a detailed post on it soon. I wanted to start the series on Frankfurt with my first experience of watching an international play at The English Theatre. This was recommended to me by Frankfurt Tourism and I instantly agreed as I love plays, theatre, musicals etc (more than movies) but I was pleasantly surprised that a German city has a theater dedicated to just English plays.
Quick research yielded additional surprising facts – The English Theatre in Frankfurt was established in 1979 and is one of the largest English language theatres on the European continent. It is known for its wide selection of drama, classical, contemporary, comedy, thrillers and satirical plays and musicals. Some of the best English plays of international quality and most performances come directly from England or other English-speaking countries. In fact rehearsals for all the plays are first done in London.
I was really excited and reached the theatre well in advance to be greeted by an open library at its entrance. There were numerous books in English and it was free for all. The selection of books ranged from thrillers to philosophy and I really had to control myself to not pick up any books. So I collected my ticket from their super friendly staff and proceeded towards the theatre. The waiting area had a nice bar with drinks and quick snacks and I regretted stuffing myself before I had reached the theatre. Anyways I’ll surely try it on my next visit. 15 minutes before the show I took my seat and realized that the theatre was full (and it was a working day!!). People all around me seemed like regular attendees. Next to me were two women who first discussed their reviews on various plays and then started chatting on solo travel. Well all I can say is that I was so engrossed with everything around me that I didn’t realize that I was watching this play solo!And then dot on time, the actors came on stage and the play began.
My Take on the Play “Disgraced” – This was my first international Pulitzer award-winning play and I loved every minute of it. This play is set in a Manhattan apartment drawing room and examines the post 9/11 western world through the lives and views of Amir (a US born Muslim and a lawyer who has rejected Islam for its backward ideas), his wife Emily (an artist who is inspired by Islamic art and contradicts Amir’s criticism of Islam), Abe (Amir’s nephew who is concerned about a local imam’s imprisonment for financing terrorist groups as he believes it to be religious persecution), Jory (Amir’s African-American colleague) and her Jewish husband Isaac (a curator for Whitney).
The play revolved around several extremely relevant issues such as tolerance, identity crisis and confusion amongst people of other cultural identities for acceptance in westerns cultures, racial and ethnic prejudices; but the best part about it was that even though it was set in an apartment in Manhattan the issues it highlighted were pertinent and relevant across the globe. The play ran for 90 minutes (without interval) and surprisingly for the topic and issues it highlighted, it was not “heavy” or depressing. I totally loved the play and recommend it to everyone.
The Theatre – I loved this theatre with its whole intimate, relaxed and friendly vibe. It has a seating for 300 people in a stall and balcony style seating with excellent acoustics. The seats were comfortable and there was adequate leg room (very important for me!). Additionally the levels of seating has been so well designed that the person sitting in front of you is much lower and does not obstruct your view. The audience was fantastic too and was comprised majorly of young Germans. They have a really good selection of plays and I was really sad on missing the Hound of Baskervilles as they were playing it later in May. They also host readings, music programs, poetry readings, drama clubs, concerts. I have heard good reviews of its bar, James Bar, but couldn’t try it on this visit.
The Location – It is very conveniently located on the ground floor of Dresdner Bank’s multi-storey Gallileo building, in Gallusanlage 7 in Frankfurt’s Bahnhof quarter. To reach here you can take a tram to the “Hauptbanhof” station and then it’s a quick 5-7 minute walk to the end of the street.
Tickets – I felt the prices were reasonable for such international quality plays and you can book tickets online at http://www.english-theatre.de/tickets/buy-online/
Even though I love theatre and plays I was surprised at myself for not having included any plays in my trips before. Well there’s always a start somewhere and I now hope to see many more plays during my travels. And whenever you find yourself in Frankfurt next, do take some time off and visit this cultural landmark to be a part of Frankfurt’s German and English cultural exchange.
The coordinates for the English Theatre are as follows –
The English Theatre Frankfurt
Gallusanlage 7, 60329 Frankfurt am Main
Telefon: +49 (0)69 24231620
Telefax: +49 (0)69 24231614