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Improvising Goethe’s Faust Part One in two Berlin high school theatre classes for cross-cultural dialogue among Turkish-German students



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Khan, Maria 


By taking a prototypical German text i.e. Goethe’s Faust Part One to two high-school theatre-classes in Berlin, I explored how Turkish-German students engage performatively with the idea of German identity. Through an improvisational treatment of the play, students performed activities based on the text which revealed their cultural identity. Emerging themes of the research show cross-cultural exchanges of students on issues of religion, politics, the role of family, socio-economic status, sexuality and Leitkultur. This is an interdisciplinary study and the findings of the research contribute to approaches within the field of post-migrant theatre in Germany and debates on Turkish-German cultural integration. The project showed that issues related to Turkish-German cultural integration must be understood emotionally and psychologically. The results of the study showed that over and above everything, lack of compassion and open-heartedness featured strongly as a prototypical German characteristic. Regardless of progressive and conservative values, in all performances, a German person was identified as Faust, someone cold-hearted and lacking warmth. My students also reflected on the character of Gretchen and found similarities with her dilemmas and those of women in Turkish-German households. Hence, what emerged from the performances were self-reflective and honest dialogues on how Turkish-German students relate to German culture at large. Instead of addressing the issues of cultural integration from a lens of identity politics, migration policy makers need to consider and focus on emotional differences between the two communities. Theatre in diverse classrooms can provide embodied engagements with individuals, whose voices need to be heard loud and clear on how they perceive the ‘other’.





Lee, Charlotte


Theatre, Faust, Turkish-German, Improvisation, Post-migrant theatre, Culture integration, Cross-cultural dialogue, Berlin


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge