The Crossing

Format: Performance
Premiere: 27-30 Oct 2022
Venue: Ballhaus Ost
Language: Damiá (with English & German surtitles)
Duration: 55 min (approx)

Direction, text, performance, design: Chris Gylee & Aslan
Light design:
Elliott Cennetoglu
Sound design:
Mars Dietz
German translation:
Lea Martini
Ouside eye: Mmakgosi Kgabi
Óscar González
Documentation film:
Ethan Folk
Graphic design:
Kruse & Müller
Production management:
ehrliche arbeit — freies Kulturbüro

Funded by: Hauptstadtkulturfonds

The Crossing is a play for one performer and one technician performed entirely in an existing constructed Queer language called Damiá.

In a Berlin theatre in the near future, a public lecture will be given by a notorious foreign dissident from the Exclave — a separatist Queer neo-nation with a troubled and controversial history. As an act of political defiance, the dissident refuses to communicate in any language other than Damiá. Their words must be translated in real time by a PhD student, one of only a handful of experts in the language, who types into a computer which projects a written translation onto a screen. The speaker strays from their script and the student grapples with error and opacity, revision and correction as a personal story of escape and an insight into the founding moments of a bold new separatist movement is revealed. 
Inspired by the failed 1969 attempt to establish Stonewall Nation in Alpine County, California, The Crossing reimagines the dangers and opportunities faced by a community forging its own destiny in a crucible of identity politics, resurgent nationalisms, and a shared mythos of belonging and exclusion. The first drafts of the play were written as part of a #TakeCare residency investigating the possibilities of Queer people having a language of our own.

The work asks: What would we choose to say to one another with brand new words? What kind of world would we build? What would we leave behind and what would follow us, unwelcome, into an uncertain future?

The above images include stills taken from NASA stock footage (July 16, 1969), available on the National Archives Catalog. 

The Crossing is a ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS production in cooperation with Ballhaus Ost.

Additional thanks to: the team at Theaterwerkstatt Pilkentafel.