Berliner Ensemble's Shakespeare's Sonnets, With Songs by Rufus Wainwright, Plays BAM | Playbill

News Berliner Ensemble's Shakespeare's Sonnets, With Songs by Rufus Wainwright, Plays BAM The Berliner Ensemble performs Shakespeare's Sonnets, a contemporary take on the Bard's work featuring music by Rufus Wainwright and direction by Robert Wilson, in its U.S. debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Shakespeare's Sonnets began Oct. 7 and will continue through Oct. 11 at the Gilman Opera House. The work is performed in English and German.

Wainwright and Wilson take part in a 6 PM pre-show discussion Oct. 8.

According to BAM, "The Bard is more modern and alive than ever in visionary Robert Wilson's Shakespeare's Sonnets, a contemporary take on 25 specially chosen sonnets from Shakespeare's canon. Set to a sweeping score composed by the renowned Rufus Wainwright, a genre-bending mix of medieval German Minnesang, classical, pop, and cabaret rock is performed by Bertolt Brecht's historic Berliner Ensemble. The sonnets were pared down and selected by Berliner dramaturge Jutta Ferbers who deftly adapted these captivating poems that were not originally intended for the theater. Wilson and Wainwright ruminate on beauty and eternity by embracing the prevalence of subversive gender conventions embedded in Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets which move fluidly between male and female objects of desire—the production’s male characters are played by women, and the female characters by men. Several quintessential characters make appearances; from boy to fool, from Cupid to the mysterious Dark Lady, from the Queen of England to Shakespeare himself. Wilson’s signature sculpting of time, light, and gesture combined with Wainwright’s romantic, sensitive, and at times disturbingly dark score transports audiences to a dreamlike place suspended in time."

The production features direction, design and lighting concept by Wilson, with music by Wainwright, costume design by Jacques Reynaud, lighting by Andreas Fuchs and Ulrich Eh, co-direction by Ann-Christin Rommen and sonnet selection by Jutta Ferbers. The piece is conducted by Hans-Jörn Brandenburg and Stefan Rager.

For tickets, visit

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