29.5.–9.6.2024 Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mülheim an der Ruhr

Living Smile Vidya

Smiley is the first trans woman in India who has been able to get the name and gender in her passport changed. But she wanted more: a sense of belonging, justice and protection from hostility. In 2018 she fled the strengthening Hindu fascism for Switzerland. Personable, approachable and full of humour, she takes the audience along on her journey to freedom.

31.05., 21:00–22:05 Schedule

sold out

01.06., 19:00–20:05 Schedule

sold out

04.06., 18:00–19:05 Schedule

sold out

07.06., 20:30–21:35 Schedule

sold out

08.06., 22:00–23:05 Ticket Schedule

Language: German and English with German and English surtitles

Tickets for all Impulse events are also available from our ticket shop.

© Ronja Burkard
© Ronja Burkard
© Ronja Burkard
© Ronja Burkard

Smiley shares her story in order to give other people courage. She tells us how being an activist enabled her to open doors for her Indian trans sisters. How she begged in the streets to pay for her first gender reassignment operation. Towards the end, Smiley stands in the spotlight, wrapped in a golden gown. She spreads out her arms and imagines flying above the stage. The hungry caterpillar that she always talks of with a chuckle has turned into a butterfly. She has achieved a great deal of what she has fought for. But how will the butterfly pay its bills if it doesn’t always want to live off social security?

Smiley’s life story is full of highs and lows. In projections she shows photos of her new boyfriend in Switzerland, but also hate posts from people who threaten to rape and murder her because she has published a photo of herself in a bra. She tells of pain and shows her scars. And she makes the audience laugh over and over again.


Artistic Direction and Performance: Living Smile Vidya
Mentoring: Marcel Schwald
Video: Moritz Flachsmann
Costumes: Diana Ammann
Costumes Intern: Lucia Müller
Sound: Silvan Koch
Voice on Video: Suzí Feliz Das Neves
Subtitles: Anton Kuzema
Lighting, Technical Direction: Thomas Kohler
Artistic Support: Beatrice Fleischlin
Production: Das Theaterkolleg (Mirjam Berger, Christina Teuber, Patric Gehrig)
Contact for touring enquiries: Mirjam Berger, Das Theaterkolleg, email hidden; JavaScript is required


A co-production between Treibstoff Theatertage Basel, Tojo Theater, Bern and Südpol, Lucerne. Funded by City of Bern Culture, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the Albert Koechlin Stiftung, the Ruth und Paul Wallach-Stiftung and the Schweizerische Interpretenstiftung SIS.


Diana Ammann lives in Basel and works as a freelance costume designer. She studied Fashion Design at Basel Academy of Art and Design. She then spent two years working as a Costume Assistant at the Münchner Kammerspiele. She has worked as a self-employed costume designer for theatre and film since 2008. dianammann.blogspot.com

Moritz Flachsmann studied Animation at Lucerne University and works as a sound editor, editor, cameraman and animator. He produces installations, video productions, live visuals, events and concepts with his collective packungsbeilage. Flachsmann lives in Basel and works internationally. www.packungsbeilage.tv

In her performances Beatrice Fleischlin attempts to formulate an in-between existence: her stage figures oscillate between autobiography and fiction. She devises performance works in collaboration with a range of artists and works on projects by colleagues as a supportive accomplice. She has maintained a long-term collaboration with Anja Meser. In 2021 fleischlin/meser was presented with a swiss performing arts award by the Federal Ministry of Culture. www.produktionsdock.ch/en/artists/beatrice-fleischlin

Silvan Koch lives in Lucerne and works as a musician, composer and pianist in the independent theatre and film scene. He has composed the music for works including ‘Sex-Stück’ (Beatrice Fleischlin) and numerous films. www.silvankoch.ch

Living Smile Vidya was born in India and is an actress, hospital clown and author. She was the first trans woman in India to be legally allowed to change her name and gender. In 2014 she was awarded a scholarship to study at the International School of Performing Arts in London, after which she founded India’s first trans theatre collective Panmai Theatre in Chennai. Since 2018 Living Smile Vidya has lived in Eschenbach, having fled to Switzerland after attempts were made on her life in response to her political activities. https://youtu.be/8Mq3xy6w_V8 / https://vimeo.com/755149666

Marcel Schwald lives in Basel and works as a freelance theatre director, dramaturg and performer. His works have been presented at theatres and festivals in Switzerland and beyond. Since 2019 he has been a full-time member of the performance collective Reines Prochaines & Friends, which won the Basel Culture Prize for 2022. www.marcelschwald.com

Das Theaterkolleg is a Central Swiss production office for theatre, dance and performance based in Lucerne that was founded in 2022 by seven Lucerne independent collectives. Das Theaterkolleg is currently run by Mirjam Berger and Patric Gehrig.