New plays for children’s and youth theatre

Über die Grenze ist es nur ein Schritt (It is Just a Step Across the Border) by Michael Müller

“Über die Grenze ist es nur ein Schritt” © Oliver Fantitsch

Michael Müller was born in Lübeck in 1959. He studied art and politics at the University of Hildesheim before taking a postgraduate drama education course in Remscheid. From 1991 onwards, he was public relations and education officer at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg before becoming dramaturge for its Junges Theater under managing director Tom Stromberg in 2000. Currently, Michael Müller is a dramaturge/writer and project coordinator for drama education at the Junges Schauspielhaus in Hamburg.

In his play Über die Grenze ist es nur ein Schritt (It is Just a Step Across the Border), Michael Müller draws attention to the personal experience of the young African Dede Afful and uses his story to trace a plight representative of that of many migrants.
Shortly before taking his final school-leaving certificate in Germany, Dede, an African, learns that the authorities have discovered he is living in the country illegally. He has now been here for five years, attending the same school as his sister Benedicta. His mother is in illegal employment - he has found a new home. Dede’s best friend Melle is in the same class. When it emerges that his family is living in Germany illegally, his mother is arrested and Dede has to escape. But what about his sister? He stops at his school for the last time to look for Benedicta.
But when he cannot find her, he sets off to look for his best friend - and ends up in the wrong classroom. In his despair, he starts to tell the children the story of his family. He involves his fellow pupils in the story of his life and hopes that they will help him.
This play is an emotional presentation of how ultimately each individual is searching for the same thing: identity, a home and a future.

The jury selected Über die Grenze ist es nur ein Schritt in recognition of the fact that it is a linguistically dense play telling a highly dramatic story but still has funny elements. Very precisely and with no false sympathy, Müller presents the plight of a young African refugee and succeeds in embedding this plight in German everyday life. The involvement of a German girl in her friend’s fear is presented convincingly and precisely. The unusual stage setting given in the text, a bus parked in school playgrounds, is more than a stage for Müller’s text. It is the place of the danger everyone is in, and that includes the audience.
(Jury’s statement, KinderStücke 2011)

Mülheimer KinderStückePreis 2011

Nominated for the German Youth Theatre Prize 2010
Technical data
Premiere 14 January 2011 in the Utopia mobile bus, Schauspielhaus Hamburg
Director Johan Hess
Number of roles 1 female, 1 male, mobile play for buses, classrooms and studio stages
Recommended for age 10 +
Rights Verlag der Autoren
Übersetzungen Theaterbibliothek