Illegal Helpers

By Maxi Obexer

Translated by Neil Blackadder

Directed by Talya Klein

We call them criminals because they help people

They save migrants without legal status from deportation. They provide shelter. They bring them across the border when all other options are exhausted. Some of them have been convicted on several occasions; others risk their profession and status. They come from the middle of society: doctors, judges, social workers, students. But what they do brings them to the brink of the law and sometimes beyond. They take these risks because they must and because they dream of a world where compassion is not a crime. Prize-winning German-Italian playwright Maxi Obexer weaves together documentary interviews in this passionate appeal for human dignity in the face of the refugee crisis threatening to engulf Western Europe.


Due to language and content, this play may not be suitable for those under the age of 16.

APR 13 APR 14


Joan H. Gillings
Center for Dramatic Art
Studio 101

APR 15

Cast List

David Fine  Florian/Lawyer
Julia Gibson  Ulrike/Teacher/Susanna
Arye Gross  Genner/Judge/Male Activist
Christine Mirzayan  Legislator/Female Activist
Daniel Wilson  Lukas

Paul Smith  Stage Manager

About the Playwrights

Maxi Obexer, born in Brixen (South Tyrol, Italy, is the author of essays and plays for theater and radio. Her political works have won numerous awards, including the 2016 Robert Geisendörfer and Eurodram Prizes for Illegal Helpers, and the 2017 Potsdamer Theater Prize for Gehen und Bleiben [Leaving and Staying]. In 2014, Maxi founded the Neue Institut für Dramatisches Schreiben, Nids. Her first novel Wenn gefährliche Hunde lachen [When Dangerous Dogs Laugh] appeared in 2011, and her second in 2017: Europas Längster Sommer [Europe’s Longest Summer]. Obexer lives in Berlin.

Neil Blackadder translates drama and prose from German and French, specializing in contemporary theatre. His translations of plays by Lukas Bärfuss and Ewald Palmetshofer have been produced in London, New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, and he has received grants from the Howard Foundation and PEN, and held residencies at the Banff Centre and Art Omi. Other playwrights Neil has translated include Rebekka Kricheldorf, Evelyne de la Chenelière, and Thomas Arzt. Neil grew up in England and since 1994 has taught theatre, first at Duke University, then at Knox College.