They Divided The Sky

you Can Change your skin, like in the fairytales…

Curious and passionate Rita is falling in love with hilariously pedantic Manfred. Together, they are fearless. East Germany is in generational turmoil: post-war trauma in conflict with youthful optimism.

Utopias seem possible. Marxism! Socialism! Revolution! But the Cold War is underway and when Manfred’s professional ambitions are thwarted, he looks to the West. The Soviets put a man into space and a Wall is about the split the city. Will their love go the way of their beloved country, or will Rita’s idealism, and seemingly boundless capacity for sacrifice triumph?

Christa Wolf was one of the most beloved German authors of her generation. Her first full-length novel They Divided the Sky was hailed at the time for its artistic achievement and excoriated for its “decadent” politics. This timely adaptation by Daniel Schlusser has been written for two of our finest performers, Nikki Shiels and Stephen Phillips.


“We [the audience] are Rita and Manfred, and we could split into two very different paths. We can cling to the relief and simplicity of the capitalist machine, we can seek out a status quo that gives us wealth and reward. Or we can try to stand for difficult, often intangible new ways of being, where assets are shared instead of hoarded, injustices fought instead of ignored.

We have a choice. Rita and Manfred had a Wall.

What will we do while we are still free to do it?” (Full Review)

Cassie Tongue, Witness

Press & Reviews

“Individually, Phillips and Shiels are precise and cerebral with what they bring, and as a couple, their chemistry is unusually powerful. Whether subtle or intense, their energy is able to fill the stage, and in every shade of light and dark that they manufacture, we discover something special in their ephemeral theatricality.”

Suzie Wrong, SuzygoesSee
Full Review

“They Divided the Sky has been made with exceptional care and the performances – tenderly drawn and perfectly scaled to this intimate space – are delightful.”

Jason Blake, Audrey Journal
Full Review

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Stephen Phillips and Nikki Shiels

From the novel by
Christa Wolf

Adapted for the stage and Directed by
Daniel Schlusser

Set Designer
Robert Cousins

Lighting Designer
Amelia Lever-Davidson

Sound Designer
James Paul

Costume Designer
Mel Page

Stage Manager
Bronte Schuftan

froudist (for Daniel Schlusser Ensemble) at Belvoir’s 25A Season of Independent Theatre


June 15, 2018