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further projects directed by anne hirth:
no palm trees. no lions. no monkeys.
cielo in costruzione
ausser betrieb



no palm trees. no lions. no monkeys.

if one is born "white" in africa, paging through the family albums can raise a lot of uncomfortable questions. yvette coetzee, author and actress, sets out to look for the answers. in 1904 her great-grandfather from hamburg travelled to the colony that was then "german south west africa" (now namibia) to fight as a soldier in the herero war. the war lasted until 1908 and is known as the first genocide of the 21st century. afterwards, he bought a farm west of windhoek, where coetzee's grandmother lives to this day amongst 'her' black farm workers. the 89-year old woman speaks german, watches german tv, and tries to keep 'her german culture', which she only knows through her parents, alive.

yvette coetzee herself grew up in pretoria, in the neighbouring south africa, when it was divided by strict racial separation. she experienced the final demise of apartheid in 1994, and the social and political changes that followed. In 2001, like many of her countrymen, she left for "the first world" to look for a better future. after 7 years of living in berlin, she looks back at the german side of her family and their history in africa with "no palm trees. no lions. no monkeys."

the piece looks for the links between historical and private events, is simultaneously a probing excavation and an investigation of personal and political responsibility in the face of such an inheritance.
the private anecdotes of everyday events in a migrant family history spanning four generations reflects a century of world history: from the beginning of the short period of german colonialism in africa (1883-1915) - largely forgotten in germany itself - through the third reich as experienced from the other end of the world, through apartheid and independence to the current african "boat people" trying to reach european coasts, and the fear of the white land-owners, that their land will be taken away from them. the text confronts the personal versions of historical events, often distorted to fiction by memory, with historical facts. it highlights the contradictions, and attempts to re-assemble all the parts into a puzzle but remains incomplete to the end. historical events and surreal fata morganae are woven into a circling inner monologue.
with the use of elements from acting, performance and object theatre, the staging creates an associative visual space for this very personal attempt at reconstruction.