The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham

Staging & Choreography: Trajal Harrell

Trajal Harrell, taking a cue from the voguing dance tradition, pays tribute to ‘bitches’. His epic trilogy Porca Miseria brings together three women from literature and history who were dismissed and attacked, and who responded to these brutal assaults with a determined mix of pride and combativeness: Medea, who was sent into exile and murdered her own children, the unapproachable and explosive Maggie from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the Afro-American choreographer Katherine Dunham, who was not only the teacher of Eartha Kitt, James Dean and Marlon Brando, but also a civil rights activist who went on hunger strike to defend refugee rights. Trajal Harrell visited Katherine Dunham on her deathbed in 2006 in New York. Based on this first and last encounter, and on the questions that Harrell failed to ask her on this occasion, he will now develop a dance-performance-installation for the Kunsthalle Zürich. The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham will be created as the final part of Porca Miseria and will, following its world premiere in Zurich, travel around the world together with O Medea, which was premiered at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, and with Maggie the Cat, which was first shown at the Manchester International Festival.


With Titilayo Adebayo, Frances Chiaverini, Challenge Gumbodete, Trajal Harrell, Josh Johnson, Christopher Matthews, Nasheeka Nedsreal, Perle Palombe, Dila Watten Raworth, Songhay Toldon, Ondrej Vidlar
Staging & Choreography
Trajal Harrell
Stage Design
Erik Flatmo, Trajal Harrell
Stephen Galloway, Trajal Harrell
Trajal Harrell
Stéfane Perraud
Sara Jansen, Katinka Deecke
Audience Development
Mathis Neuhaus
Theatre Pedagogy
Katarina Tereh
Production Assistant
Maja Renn
Stage Design Assistant
Ann-Kathrin Bernstetter, Natascha Leonie Simons
Costume Assistant
Liv Senn

A production of Schauspielhaus Zürich.

The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham is part of the trilogy Porca Miseria, commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Onassis Stegi, Kampnagel Hamburg, Holland Festival, Barbican, Dance Umbrella, NYU Skirball, Berliner Festspiele & The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi.

  • World creation: 1. April 2020, Kunsthalle Zürich
  • Kunsthalle Zürich
  • Recommended age: 16 and above
  • 🛈 Introduction 30 min before the play on 02.04., 03.04., 04.04., 22.04., 23.04. and 25.04.
Wednesday 01.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
  • Premiere
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Thursday 02.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Friday 03.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Saturday 04.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Wednesday 22.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Thursday 23.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Saturday 25.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Thursday 30.04. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Friday 01.05. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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Saturday 02.05. 20:00 - 22:30 Kunsthalle Zürich
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