There is no shortage of Eastern European theatre featuring across the globe at the moment, especially with a growing focus on making the term European inclusive, and exploring the broad range of cultures that shape the region. ‘Cremulator’ is an independent project by theatre artists who worked on major stages across Eastern Europe before the war and have now come together in Berlin, not wanting to disappear without a trace in the new cultural landscape.

“Cremulator” is the first adaptation of the novel by Belarusian-Swiss writer Sasha Filipenko, based on the interrogation protocols of the director of the first crematorium in the USSR.

White Guard officer Pyotr Nesterenko, goes on a journey of emigration after the October Revolution: from Constantinople to Belgrade and Paris. In Paris, he makes a deal with the Soviets and returns home, where he is appointed the director of Moscow’s first crematorium. He becomes the figurehead for a “progressive” and “revolutionary” method of laying people to rest. But his job is twofold: cremating ordinary people and Soviet elites (for example, Mayakovsky) by day, and secretly,  “enemies of the people” who were neutralised by night.

This is a story about manipulation and selective truth, its burning, distortion, and erasure, about emigration and the wars of the past century. It’s about death, love, and faith.

“For me, staging is an act of social interaction. I’m thinking about how the wheel of history turns humanity, grinding it down. We live at a civilizational crossroads. It’s hard to believe that what happened a hundred years ago is repeating.” (Maksim Didenko)

Maksim Didenko, is a director from Omsk (Siberia), who was previously an actor at the “Derevo” theater (St. Petersburg – Dresden). Since 2007, he has collaborated with the Russian Engineering Theatre “AXE” and the Center for Contemporary Art “DAH” in Kyiv. His theatrical projects often revolve around artistic explorations of totalitarian culture and society. His recent works include “Last Word” (2022) at Berlin’s Gorky Theater, based on the real texts of female political prisoners in Russia; the opera “Wozzeck” (2023) in Karlsruhe; and “The White Factory” (2023) in London, based on the text by Dmitry Glukhovsky. He frequently works with classical European literature and contemporary literary texts.

Sasha Filipenko, author of the novel is a Swiss-Belarusian writer, author of six novels and two collections of short stories, and winner of several literary awards. His works have been translated into 18 languages, and his books regularly appear on bestseller lists in Germany and Sweden. He is a regular contributor to major European and American publications, including Le Monde, The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, and the Kennan Institute.

Both artists found the freedom to showcase their work across Europe, and have important conversations about what the future looks like and what we can learn from the past. This new production in Berlin is no exception, as we’ve seen from its early touring in Amsterdam and Limassol. So, if you’re looking for a mid-week cultural trip, this is surely one for the list.

  • Date: 05 June 2024 - 06 June 2024
  • ATZE Musiktheater Luxemburger Str. 20, 13353, Berlin
  • Time: Doors 7pm, start 8pm
  • Tickets: https://www.kontramarka.de/tour/cremulator/