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Post/Socialist Palaces

The international writing project “Palace Stories” transforms transformation processes in parts of the former Eastern Bloc from 1989 to the present day into literature that can be felt. Because that’s what literature can do: condense complex events of the past narratively and with word images and thus make them comprehensible.

The Palace of the Republic, which stood where the Humboldt Forum is today from 1976 to 2008, provides the narrative occasion for a literary examination of popular and cultural palaces in Bucharest, Kyiv, Prague, Sofia, Warsaw and possibly other places. Who knows where the “palace stories” will take the audience?

Unlike the Palace of the Republic in Berlin, which has completely disappeared, these other palaces continue to shape the cityscape as important representative buildings of socialism. In search of stories in and around these political places, five literary tandems from a total of seven countries have come together to tell of upheavals in stories or poems ranging from essayistic to autobiographical.

Thomas Perle and Elise Wilk, Volker Sielaff and Tomáš Kafka, Lisa Weeda and Mima Simić, Joshua Groß and Angel Igov, and Uljana Wolf and Joanna Mueller are searching and writing together.

Be curious about the resulting texts, which will have their premiere on October 7 in the presence of the authors, performed by the actors Almut Zilcher and Joshua Seelenbinder introduced by conversations with the authors, moderated by the literary scholar Dr. Matthias Schwartz.

Supported with funds from the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship.

Writing tandem 1

Thomas Perle was born in 1987 in the Socialist Republic of Romania and grew up trilingual in Germany. He studied theatre, film and media studies at the University of Vienna. Since winning the exil-Literaturpreis in 2013, he has worked as an author and playwright in Austria, Germany and Romania. In 2018, his prose debut wir gingen weil alle gingen. (we left because everyone left.) was published by edition exil. In 2019 he won the Retzhofer Dramapreis for his play karpatenflecken, which premiered at Deutsches Theater in Berlin in 2021 and premiered at Burgtheater Wien in Austria. He leads several writing workshops as well as writing labs among others at the Dschungel Wien and the Burgtheater Vienna. In 2023 he will be a writer-in-residence at the German Cultural Forum Eastern Europe in the European Capital of Culture Timisoara/Timișoara.

Elise Wilk grew up bilingually (Romanian-German) in Brasov, Transylvania. She is one of the most frequently performed playwright of the younger generation in Romania. Her plays have won several awards, been staged both in Romania and abroad, and have been translated into 13 languages so far. She has participated in international programmes such as at programme Hot Ink in New York (2015) or Galata Perform Instanbul (2021). Since 2021 she has been teaching Scenic Writing at the University of Arts in Târgu Mureș.

Writing tandem 2

Lisa Weeda is a Dutch-Ukrainian writer, literary program maker, screenwriter, audio fan and virtual reality director. Text is always the base of her work, but its form is free. Her work is often centered around Ukraine, which is her grandmother’s motherland. At the end of 2021, after the release of her debut novel ALEKSANDRA, Lisa Weeda was named literary talent of the year 2022 by Dutch newspaper Volkskrant. Her novel ended up on the shortlist of the Boekhandelsprijs, Scheltema Book of the Year and the Libris Literatuurprijs 2022. In December 2022 she received the Bronze Owl for the best debut. ALEKSANDRA’s translation rights have so far been sold to eight countries, including Germany, Poland and France.

Mima Simić is a Yugoslav-born writer, media critic, translator and political activist. Her book of film essays She’s Hollywoodproof won her the Croatian best film critic award, and her collection of short stories The Adventures of Gloria Scott was adapted into the animated film Murder in the Cathedral, premiering in Annecy in 2020. Her short stories have been included in numerous international anthologies and have been adapted for radio and TV. Her translations include works of fiction, non-fiction, literary theory, screenplays and films. In over two decades of activist engagement she has harnessed her creative talents for political change, using quiz shows, cooking shows, talk shows and women’s magazines as platforms for raising LGBTQ visibility, leading her to be named the Croatian LGBT Person of the Decade. She currently lives and works between Berlin, Zagreb and Topanga, CA.

Writing tandem 3

Volker Sielaff, born 1966 in Großröhrsdorf / Oberlausitz (Germany). He writes prose, poetry, essays and literary criticism. Publications (selection): Postkarte für Nofretete (2003), Selbstporträt mit Zwerg (2011), Glossar des Prinzen (2015), Überall Welt. Ein Journal (2017), Barfuß vor Penelope (2020), Ovids Würfelspiel – Epigramme und andere kurze Gedichte (2023). Prizes: 2007 Lessing-Förderpreis; 2015 Honorary Award of the German Schiller Foundation; 2023 London Fellowship of the German Literature Fund.

Tomáš Kafka was born in Prague in 1965 and has been Czech Ambassador to Germany since 2020. Before that, he worked for the Czech Foreign Ministry since the end of the “Velvet Revolution”; in 1990. Between 1998 and 2005, he was involved in the founding of the German-Czech Future Fund and served as its co-managing director. The Fund is committed to German-Czech reconciliation. His commitment to German-Czech relations was honoured with the German Federal Cross of Merit in 2001. In 2022, Tomáš Kafka received the Austrian Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for his commitment to Central Europe. He is also a translator and author of several poetry collections. Together with Bernhard Schlink he wrote the play Mitteleuropa, Geschichte eines Denkmals.

Writing tandem 4

Angel Igov was born in 1981. He is the author of three novels, Particulate Matter (2017), The Meek (2015) and A Short Tale of Shame (2011), two collections of short stories, Road Encounters (2002) and K. (2006), and the academic study Flags and Keys: Poetics of the Epigraph (2022). The Meek was shortlisted for seven national fiction awards in Bulgaria and won one of them, the Hristo G. Danov Award. Its translation into German by Andreas Tretner (Die Sanftmütigen, 2019) was shortlisted for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and shared the International Literary Award of the House of World Cultures in Berlin (2020). Igov teaches English literature and translation at Sofia University and has translated a number of titles from English. Currently, he is working on the translation of Seamus Heany’s poetry into Bulgarian at the Landys & Gyr residence in Zug, Switzerland.

Joshua Groß: Born in 1989 in Grünsberg near Nuremberg. He studied political science, economics and ethics of text cultures in Erlangen. As an author, he has already received several awards, including the Anna Seghers Prize 2019, the Hölderlin Förderpreis 2021 and the Literaturpreis der A und A Kulturstiftung 2021. Most recently, his novel “Prana Extrem” was nominated for the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair 2023 in the category of fiction.

Writing tandem 5

Uljana Wolf, poet and translator, born in Berlin in 1979, has published volumes of poetry, essays and poetry translations, most recently Valzhyna Mort: Musik für die Toten und Auferstandenen, together with Katharina Narbutovic (Suhrkamp 2021) and Don Mee Choi: DMZ Kolonie (Spector Books 2023, shortlisted for the International Literature Prize 2023). Her essay collection Etymologischer Gossip. Essays und Reden (kookbooks 2021) was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2022. In the winter semester 2019, she held the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship for Poetics of Translation at the Free University of Berlin. She is a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry and teaches literary writing and translation at the Institute for Language Arts, Vienna and the German Literature Institute Leipzig, among others. Her new poetry collection muttertask will be published by kookbooks in autumn 2023.

Joanna Mueller, born 1979 in Piła, Poland, lives in Warsaw, is a poet, essayist and editor. She has published several volumes of poetry, most recently intima thule (2015), as well as collections of essays on contemporary Polish poetry, feminism, literature and motherhood, and co-edits anthologies of contemporary poetry. She also writes texts for children. A selection of her texts appeared in German in the bilingual volume Mistyczne masthewy / Mystische musthaves (translated by Karolina Golimowska & Dagmara Kraus, hochroth Verlag 2016).


Matthias Schwartz is deputy director and head of the program area World Literature at the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL), Berlin, Germany. His research interests involve Eastern European contemporary literatures, memory cultures and popular cultures in a globalized world; documentary aesthetics and Socialist travel literature, the cultural history of Soviet and post-Soviet adventure literature, science fiction, science popularisation and space travel. Recent publications include After Memory. World War II in Contemporary Eastern European Literatures (co-edited, 2021); Sirenen des Krieges. Diskursive und affektive Dimensionen des Ukraine-Konflikts (co-edited, 2019); Eastern European Youth Cultures in a Global Context (co-edited, 2016).


Almut Zilcher: Born in Graz, Almut Zilcher completed her training at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in 1974. In 1992, she was named Actress of the Year by the trade magazine “Theater heute” for Fräulein Julie (directed by Dimiter Gotscheff). She has appeared at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus and the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Schauspiel Frankfurt, the Schauspiel Köln, the Berliner Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and at the Salzburg Festival. Almut Zilcher has worked with directors such as Leander Haußmann, Karin Beier, Jossi Wieler, Karin Henkel and Nicolas Stemann. She worked mainly with the director Dimiter Gotscheff, and in 2011 she received the Theaterpreis der Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung together with Samuel Finzi, Wolfram Koch and him. She has been a permanent ensemble member of the Deutsches Theater Berlin since the 2006/2007 season.

Joshua Seelenbinder, born in 1990 in northern Germany, studied at the Ernst Busch” Academy of Dramatic Arts. Already during his studies he worked at the with Robert Wilson and Veit Schubert at the Berliner Ensemble, as well as with Marcel Kohler and Rebekka David at the bat-Studiotheater and with Moritz Beichl at Kampnagel in Hamburg. He was a permanent ensemble member at the Staatstheater Braunschweig from 2017 to 2020. Since then he has been living freelance in Berlin, working as a narrator for audiobook and radio play productions and shoots various projects for cinema, streamers and television (among others the fourth season of Charité, directed by Esther Bialas, or Herrhausen – Der Herr des Geldes, directed by: Pia Strietmann).

- 8,00 € / 4,00 €
- Language: German

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