THESPIS - International Festival of Monodrama

Photos: Elizabeth Hess. & Thespis Poster: 'DUST TO DUST' performed by Elizabeth Hess. Photo by Stephanie Warren
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Country and Region GermanySchleswig-Holstein
Type of Festival Drama
Location of Festival Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Festival Contact Information

THESPIS, International Festival of Monodrama
c/o Mrs Jolanta Kozak-Sutowicz, Festival Director
Osloring 41
D-24109 Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein
Phone/fax: +49 (0)431-528307

Festival Description

Once again, it’s our pleasure and honour to offer you an insight into the versatile and unbridled universe of the one-person-theatre. You will be able to meet artists who performed for us previously and became our most cherished friends, as well as encounter new faces and attend German premieres of carefully chosen shows. We are going to present exquisite pieces from Great Britain, Poland, Russia, Israel, Palestine, Switzerland, USA, Norway, Ukraine, Japan, Canada, and last but not least Germany. Their forms and contents vary, and we do hope to show you once again that diversity is the strength of the monodrama. We will have a comedy and a tragedy, modern and traditional pieces that are spoken, danced, sung or mimed. They will be highly explosive and global, or just most intimate and gentle. By now you do know that – solo performers can do almost anything.

But regardless of the form and content of the act and actor’s cultural and personal experience, a theatre piece is there to make you see, hear, feel and possibly react. Henry Miller once said that a theatre performance, even an angry one, was also a love letter directed to the world; a love letter whose author awaited an affectionate reply.
—Helga Trabandt, Chair, Mæcenas e.V.
—Jolanta Sutowicz, Festival Director

His body was like a magic veil,
All possible things in its creases:
He pulled creatures out of himself:
The lamb, the lion, a stupid devil,
Something horrible, and this and that,
And you and me…

(from Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s elegy for a famous actor)

Festival Dates November 9 - 16, 2012
Festival Links

Festival Story:

The international Monodrama-Festival THESPIS was established in 1999 by the non-profit association MAECENAS as a biennial competition of solo-performers. The name of the festival refers to the ancient Greek tragedian Thespis (6th century BC) and the logo of the festival symbolizes the wheel of Thespis’ legendary cart.

Every two years the THESPIS-Festival presents about 15 of the most interesting contemporary “one-man/woman-shows” from all over the world. All shows are performed in their original language. An international jury awards the best performances. A supporting programme of lectures, workshops, public discussions and a symposium of international theatre-critics completes the festival.

In the course of the six previous editions of the festival about 100 actresses and actors from all continents have performed their solo-programmes at the festival, which for quite a few of them has become a springboard for their international career. According to its principle matter: to strengthen the intercultural dialogue, the THESPIS-Festival persues two objectives. The presentation of the “one man/woman shows” shall allow the audience to get a deep and unique insight into the theatre traditions of very different countries and cultures. On the other hand the festival supports the linking up and the cooperation of the solo- performers worldwide. Therefore the THESPIS-Festival has played an active role in the process to establish the International Monodrama Forum of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), a subdivision of the UNESCO. The artistic directress of the festival has been elected as the vice-president of this International Monodrama Forum.

THESPIS is the only monodrama-festival in Germany and though it’s only a small one the THESPIS-Festival has become one of the most renown monodrama-festivals worldwide and conquered its fixed spot on the agenda of international theatre festivals.


Festival Events:

Artist feature 2012:
  • Dust to Dust, written and performed by Elizabeth Hess (USA)
    Performance — November 16, 2012 — Closing Night, at Shauspielhaus, Kiel, Germany
    • The play is a work of dramatic fiction based on factual accounts of Bosnian women during the war and sifts through the devastation of systematic rape to uncover a transcendent inner grace. Hess wanted to find a way to explore the intertwined complexity of the words rape and rapture — which share the same root word rapere, which means ‘to seize’. To be seized means to be ‘taken from oneself’ and in rape this is experienced as being split off from the body; in rapture, as being transported by bliss. In order to survive the ordeal the mind escapes to another realm. This escape often has the feel of ecstasy as it counters the agony from which it seeks release. There is also an attempt to revert to a time of innocence, before the traumatic event changed the psychic landscape forever. The performance seeks to re-script the devastating story so as to feel empowered rather than helpless, thus trying to turn the tables, psychologically, in order to gain a much-needed sense of control. It attempts to repair borderline behavior by reclaiming one’s truth, including one’s darkness as well as light; one’s woundedness as well as wonder; one’s fear as well as love. It seeks to find a liminal space where we, as one, can embrace non-duality with wonder and grace.
  • Biography
    • Hess’ acclaimed solo trilogy LIVING OPENLY & NOTORIOUSLY has been performed around the globe: Berlin, Bath, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Kiel, Toronto, Yerevan and New York. Her subsequent solo piece, DUST TO DUST, was selected for presentation at the Women Playwrights International Conference (WPIC) in Stockholm, Sweden. This piece was originally developed through Voice & Vision - an organization dedicated to supporting women’s theatrical work. Other New York credits include original work with The New Group, Women’s Project, Irish Rep, Manhattan Theater Club (MTC), New York Theater Workshop (NYTW) and La MAMA. She has also worked extensively in regional theaters throughout the US. Some of her favorite roles include: Arkadina (The Seagull), Essie (Ah, Wilderness), Francesca (Perfect Pie), Molly, (Molly Sweeney) and Hedda (Hedda Gabler). TV credits include: 5 seasons starring on Clarissa Explains It All; Law & Order; Guiding Light; All My Children and Another World. Film credits include: Handsome Harry; A Bedtime Story; Italian Lessons; Buddy & Grace and Soldier’s Heart. Elizabeth is the recipient of a Madolin Cervantes Grant for new work; International Theater Institute (ITI) Armmono Festival Director’s Award; ITI Thespis Mono Festival Organizer’s Award and Audience Award. For additional information visit


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