© Donata Ettlin

Attempt on Dying

Boris Nikitin
di 8 nov ’22 - wo 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.
di 8 nov ’22
wo 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. The disease had made short work: it took only a year from diagnosis to death. Very early on, the father opened the idea of considering 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 oneself attackable and vulnerable.

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 author, director and at the same time performer, he negotiates his own biography for the first time.

The play was 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.
  • English spoken
Onderdeel van:
Frascati International

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 theatre makers 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, frontal, 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.


"Three years after his father's death, the Basel theatre maker tears down the fourth wall between himself and his subjects." ★★★★ Basler Zeitung (Stefan Reuter)

"Very fine, very differentiated and considered. Boris Nikitin, starting from the story of his father's death, 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. The evening is theoretically veryprecise. But first and foremost it is also very touching."  ★★★★ SRF - Swiss National Broadcast

"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."  ★★★★ Basler Zeitung (Mathias Balzer)

"In this way, the very private becomes societal and this theatre event becomes political. The performer penetrates so deeply, self-critically, analytically, but also simply and lovingly into his intimate, individual life that he opens our eyes to questions that we usually avoid.“  ★★★★ Swiss Theatre Summit

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


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