Attempt on Dying

Boris Nikitin (CH)
Tue 8 Nov ’22 - Wed 9 Nov ’22
One year after the death of his father, author and theater director Boris Nikitin begins to write the story of his ALS disease.
Tue 8 Nov ’22
Wed 9 Nov ’22

One year after the death of his father, author and theatre director Boris Nikitin begins to write the story of his ALS disease. The disease had made short work of him: it took only a year from diagnosis to death. Very early on, his father voiced being open to assisted suicide, which is a legal way of dying in Switzerland. It’s a statement that changes everything.

In Attempt on Dying Nikitin combines the story of this outing with the story of his own coming-out as a gay man 20 years ago and develops a radical and at the same time intimate theatrical evening about what it means to take the step into the public eye, making yourself vulnerable and open to attack.

Since 2007, Boris Nikitin's theatre works have addressed the question of how we create realities and identities. The real biographies of the actors always play a special, central role. In his solo play, Nikitin now changes sides: as an author, director and at the same time performer, he negotiates his own biography for the first time.

The play premiered in Basel in 2019. Since then, it has been performed in Zurich, Munich, Beijing, Frankfurt, at the National Arts Festival Makhanda (South Africa), the Wiener Festwochen, Ljubljana, Berlin and Moscow, among others. In 2021, it was invited to the Swiss Theatertreffen as one of the seven best plays of 2019/2020.

  • Running time: 50 mins.
  • NL premiere
  • English spoken
  • Tue 8 part of We Are Public programme
  • Frascati International special ticket prize of EUR 10
  • You can combine you visit with Natural Drama by Sourour Darabi 21:00 in F1

About Boris Nikitin

Boris Nikitin, born in Basel and the son of Ukrainian-Slovakian-French-Jewish immigrants, is a theatre director and author. He is considered one of the most important voice in contemporary German-language theatre. For over thirteen years, his productions, texts and happenings have dealt with the representation and production of identity and reality. They are border crossings between illusion theatre and performance, between documentary and propaganda. 

Nikitin's works are raw and confrontational, yet always precisely composed and always searching for the boundaries and breaking points of the aesthetic. "Like few others, Boris Nikitin is currently leading theatre to a critical point," writes the German professional journal Theater heute. In his last plays and texts, Nikitin increasingly deals with the relationship between art and illness. In 2017, Nikitin was awarded the J.M.R. Lenz Drama Prize of the city of Jena for his complete works. In 2020 he received the Swiss Theatre Prize. His play Attempt on Dying was invited to the Swiss Theatertreffen in 2021. His play "First Season. 20 Jahre Big Brother" was invited to the Mülheim Theatre Days in 2021 as one of the best German-language plays.

Boris Nikitin was the holder of the Christoph-Schlingensief Visiting Professorship at the University of Bochum in 2018/2019.


"A radical and at the same time tender text.“ ★★★★ Bayrischer Rundfunk

"The Basel theatre maker tears down the fourth wall between himself and his subjects." ★★★★ Basler Zeitung

"This anti-theatre has exactly what many productions lack: urgency and courage. It's theatre at its zero point. But it's precisely in this radicalism that this evening's pathos arises." ★★★★ bz

"Starting from the story of his father's death, Nikitin comes to very far-reaching and reflective thoughts about the relationship between inside and outside, about how we construct the world and what it does to us."  ★★★★ Swiss National Broadcast

 "Attempt on Dying is not so much about death, but about life." ★★★★ Süddeutsche Zeitung

written, directed and performed by Boris Nikitin production It’s The Real Thing Studios comissioned by Kaserne Basel, Gessnerallee Zurich, Festival „Spielart“ Munic, Festival FIT Lugano