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Let There Be Theatre 2.0

A message from Wolfgang Hoffmann at Auroa Nova on Let There Be Theatre and White Rabbit Red Rabbit


In March 2020 most theatres closed their doors because of the pandemic. With the initiative "Let there be theatre” we celebrate the resilience of our sector as a global community and the importance theatres play for their audience and society at large. On the 13th of March we offer "White Rabbit, Red Rabbit" by Nassim Soleimanpour to theatres around the world for free, so that this play will be performed and watched by actors and audiences everywhere. In 2021 92 theatres in 33 countries took part in this initiative and performed the play on the same day. We hope that in 2022 it will be even more!

The story behind the idea: Ten years ago, almost to the day, I performed in a show at the Fadjr Festival in Tehran**. At the festival hotel I was introduced to a young unpublished playwright, who did not have a passport, because he had refused to do military service. In order to get his work in front of an audience, he had devised a play that had to be performed as a cold read, without the need of a director, set or rehearsals. All it needed was for a brave performer to agree to read a text in front of a live audience, without first knowing what the play was about. I liked this young man and loved his idea and spontaneously agreed to help produce his show at the Edinburgh Fringe later that year. When I finally saw the show performed live, I realised what this playwright had achieved. Through the power of his words alone he had written himself to freedom.

Now, ten years on, the play White Rabbit Red Rabbit has become one of the most widely performed plays in the world. It has been translated into over 30 languages and been performed by some of the most respected actors in the business. The playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour now lives in Berlin and realises that our world is trapped, much like he was ten years ago. So the idea was born to offer his play as a vehicle to connect and empower producers, artists and audiences around the world.

* Theatres did not shut down all at the same time. For venues in China/Hong Kong the shut down started already in late January. For many Asian countries and Italy, the shut down began in early March. Most of the Western world shut down between March 12 and 16 and Australia New Zealand were shut by early April, 2020.

**The show I was in was Pandora 88, a two-hander dance performance in which I and my creative partner Sven Till spend an hour in a telephone booth size box. Pandora 88 won the Fadjr Grand Festival Prize that year and we were invited back for a longer run later in the year

Thank Yous:

I have to thank and credit Jonathan Holloway for coming up with the actual idea of having White Rabbit Red Rabbit performed in all countries in the world on the same day. If you ever need your ideas exploded, I recommend calling him for advice!

Ross Manson who introduced me to Nassim in Tehran and recommended that I should bring White Rabbit Red Rabbit to Edinburgh.

Nassim Soleimanpour who has become my dear brother, friend and advisor. 

Yours truly,

Wolfgang Hoffmann

White Rabbit Red Rabbit