Black Virgins, Close Encounters: re-examining the ‘semi-documentary’ in postmigrant theatre

Lizzie Stewart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 2006 the premiere of Feridun Zaimoglu and Günter Senkel’s play Black Virgins (Schwarze Jungfrauen) became the first play by a Turkish-German writer to feature on the front cover of Germany’s influential theatre magazine, Theater heute (Theatre Today). Black Virgins consists of interview-based monologues of Muslim women reworked into Zaimoglu’s “artistic language” and has generally been received as “semi-documentary theatre.” However, the director of the premiere, Neco Çelik, claims that Black Virgins “should not be read in a documentary [...] manner.” This is reflected in the use of references to science fiction films, particularly Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of A Third Kind, in Çelik’s use of sound, costume and mise-en-scène. Drawing on personal interviews with Çelik and Zaimoglu, as well as reviews, scripts and a video-recording of the premiere production, this article will explore the ways in which the intertextual, intermedial and transnational references to science fiction present in the premiere of Black Virgins provide a new mode of understanding this landmark production. It will argue that close attention to Çelik’s non-documentary articulation of Black Virgins can be used not only to shed new light on the play’s reception, but also to frame audiences’ “close encounter” with the Muslim woman in unexpected ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn der Welt der Proteste und Umwälzungen Deutschland und die Türkei
EditorsSeyda Ozil, Michael Hofmann, Yasemin Dayioglu-Yücel
PublisherV&R Unipress
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)978384710388
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Publication series

NameTürkisch-deutsche Studien Jahrbuch
PublisherV&R unipress


  • Turkish-German Studies
  • Theatre


Dive into the research topics of 'Black Virgins, Close Encounters: re-examining the ‘semi-documentary’ in postmigrant theatre'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this