New plays for children’s and youth theatre

Mein kleiner Zeh war ein Wort (My Little Toe Was A Word) by Yoko Tawada

„Mein kleiner Zeh war ein Wort“ © Theater Pilkentafel

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960 and studied literature (main subject: Russian literature) in Japan. She has been living in Germany since 1982, completing a doctorate in Modern German Literature with Sigrid Weigel in Hamburg. Yoko Tawada writes essays, prose, plays for the theatre, radio plays and poetry in German and Japanese. She has received many awards, including the Goethe Medal in 2005. During 2011, Yoko Tawada has held a guest professorship for intercultural poetry in Hamburg.

In her second children’s play, Mein kleiner Zeh war immer ein Wort, written for the Flensburg theatre workshop Pilkentafel, Yoko Tawada develops ever new worlds from the letters of the alphabet. With the loss and disappearance of one’s house, work, rules and limits, what is familiar and usual also starts to dissolve. The familiar words and sounds open themselves up to new meaning. The small family in Tawada’s play settles down in a world made of language. Scenes, words and images are created using the letters of the alphabet. Unexpected questions arise in the process, such as whether water flows through the word “shower“? How to go into a house without a door? Whether an eagle sometimes dreams of being a hare? Whether an umbrella needs rain?
Unburdened by linearity and chronology, Mein kleiner Zeh war ein Wort is a dance of meanings in which things that could be tragic and dramatic take on a new lightness. In a down-to-earth yet philosophical way, the text leaves room for the audience’s own associations and images.
(Rowohlt Theaterverlag)

The alphabet is presented as a world where each letter is a word and the beginning of a scene. Through playing with this idea, a miniature cosmos is created in the form of a theatre of narrated things … Tawada has prepared an 'alphabed, in which the actors … help stories to grow, from A for anders (different) to Z for zählen (to count) … This is a game that stimulates one to understand one’s own language with Tawada’s wondering gaze.
(Thomas Irmer, KinderStücke 2011)

Nominated for the German Children’s Theatre Prize 2010

Nominated for the KinderStückePreis 2011
Technical data
Premiere 19 June 2010, Theaterwerkstatt Pilkentafel Flensburg
Director Ensemble Theaterwerkstatt Pilkentafel
Number of roles 1 female, 1 male, optional: 1 child
Recommended for age 8 +
Rights Rowohlt Theaterverlag
Übersetzungen Theaterbibliothek