3. Imitation of Life_Foto_Dominik_Labhard

Imitation of Life

  • Theatre
  • Independent Production
  • 2009
“There is hardly any director who is questioning the status of what he is showing to a greater extend than Nikitin. And it’s just fascinating to see how little theatre needs to be good.”
“The probably most elementary work of the festival is Boris Nikitin's "Imitation of Life". A performance in which Malte Scholz and Beatrice Fleischlin question the representation of biography by telling seemingly authentic episodes of their lives - in a piece, that shows us, how the "I's" can be deconstructed, how the told stories change their impact by the use of music and how the structure of our emotions is penetrated by light effects. The stage becomes a space in which we can reflect our perception of the world.”
“We leave Nikitin's performance with a sense that we have journeyed back and forth through the complex corridors of performance, where acting, non-acting, fiction and non-fiction run parallel to each other and intersect. (...) Nikitin makes clever work that not only prompts some interesting questions around the "live" theme, attaching it to more existential ideas rather than just the semantics around performance terms or non-terms, but he also sets a bar for performance. His work is more complex and rounded than any of the others at the festival.”
Sunday Independent (Cape Town)
“The performance shows us the creation of theatre in a subtle way. (...) Nikitin gives the performers time and space. He's an astonishing talent, smart and with a great instinct. He creates moments of magical beauty.”
Basellandschaftliche Zeitung


    • 19 October 2014
      • FIT Lugano
    • 28 March 2014
      • The Art Consulate
    • 29 November – 1 December 2013
      • Theater Rampe, Stuttgart
    • 18 + 19 September 2013
      • Ganz New Festival, Zagreb
    • 20 – 22 June 2013
      • Hebbel am Ufer (HAU), Berlin
    • 16 January 2013
      • Journées de Théatre Suisse Contemporain
    • 30 November + 1 December 2012
      • Little Theatre, Cape Town (SA)
    • 25 + 26 November 2012
      • Market Theatre Lab, Johannesburg (SA)
    • 22 + 23 November 2012
      • Joburg Theatre, Johannesburg (SA)
    • 2 + 3 October 2012
      • Sakharov Center, Moskau
    • 11 November 2011
      • Gessnerallee, Zürich
    • 6 + 7 May 2011
      • Mousonturm, Frankfurt
      • Festival "plateaux"
    • 1 October 2010
      • Tuchlaube Aarau, Festival "Kunstexpander"
    • 24 + 25 September 2010
      • Ringlokschuppen, Mülheim an der Ruhr
    • 16 + 17 May 2010
      • Schlachthaus, Bern
      • Festival "auawirleben"
    • 10 + 11 April 2010
      • Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Zürich
    • 30 October – 1 November 2009
      • HAU, Berlin
    • 29 October 2009
      • HAU, Berlin
      • Berlin premiere
    • 12 + 13 September 2009
      • Kaserne Basel, Festival "Treibstoff '09"
    • 10 September 2009
      • Kaserne Basel, Festival "Treibstoff '09"
      • World Premiere

A piece that is also its own making-of. The documentary as a ride on Mulholland Drive. The actress describes to the audience how she creates emotions and begins to cry, the actor explains the tiger jump and dances for minutes to the silent "Smells like teen spirit". The first 45 minutes of the show are an introduction to the play that doesn't want to begin, the second half a David Lynch-like journey into the pulsating heart of the theater.
"Imitation of Life", Nikitin's third directorial work, celebrates the non-fictional as the highest form of illusion theater and merges the genres to the point of indistinguishability. Towards the end of the play, a metal bar stool falls to the floor and shatters into a thousand pieces. It is a commentary on the concepts of reality of the time.

The play toured internationally for five years and became the blueprint for a whole series of meta-documentary works in the German-speaking theater landscape of the 2010s.

Conceived, directed and designed by
Boris Nikitin
Performers & texts
Beatrice Fleischlin und Malte Scholz
Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt
Stage design
PanteraPantera/Thomas Wüthrich, Jens Müller
Matthias Meppelink
Production management
Hendrik Unger
Thanks to
Jürgen Harksen und Dirk Baecker

Produced by Boris Nikitin. Cocomissioned by Kaserne Basel/Treibstoff Theatertage 2009 and HAU Hebbel am Ufer. Supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin.

stool production in Joburg at William Kentridges studio
shattered stool