Zachary Oberzan


Performance / Theatre Austrian premiere in English
{love me tender} {close-up – mash-up} {who is who?}
, © Manu Bloemen


, © Nicole Schuchardt


, © Manu Bloemen


In his new, acclaimed performance, all-rounder and gifted Elvis impersonator Zacharzy Oberzan combines elements of film, theatre and music into a schmaltzily tragicomic evening circling around the issue of identity and the roles we all play every day. As THE GREAT PRETENDER, Oberzan plays a bizarre game of deliberate confusion, entrapping his audience in the inextricableness of illusion and reality, performance and life, identity and construction, sometimes as a character from a film, sometimes as Elvis and sometimes as his own alter ego.

Zachary Oberzan drew his inspiration for this piece from Close Up, a fictitious documentary film by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. Like in this film, Oberzan ignites a cunning game of confusion in his performance, guiding his audience into the shoals between fiction, documentary and reconstruction. Among other things, he makes an appearance as the hustler Aaron Aranovitch, who manages to dupe a whole theatre cast. Also, Oberzan impersonates Elvis and gives film-maker Kiarostami himself a key role in his performance. This way, THE GREAT PRETENDER celebrates the love for film and theatre and the desire to keep wanting to become somebody else.

Film-maker, director, performer and singer-songwriter Zachary Oberzan is a founding member of the Nature Theater of Oklahoma in New York, he performed with the Wooster Group and Richard Foreman and has realised several productions of his own. His most recent appearance at brut was in 2014 with Tell Me Love Is Real.


“Oberzan’s project does not resemble anything else … Very funny, very sad, very strange and very serious … An extremely impressive performance – not least in the level of detail when he shows his stage personality Elvis/Oberzan in various stages of barbiturate-intoxication, from the euphoric to absolutely helpless.” Adressavisen, Norway

“Oberzan throws a probing and uncomfortable glance at the exclusionary mechanisms and nervousness of the art scene … [An] even more radical approach to the topic than Danish dogma-directors … What gives the film, and secondary stories such a paradoxical authentic atmosphere, is [Oberzan’s] style of something naïve or non-calculated … What makes The Great Pretender so human and gripping is a self-examination affecting far more than himself.” Klassenkampen, Norway


Concept, direction, performance Zachary Oberzan; inspired by Abbas Kiarostami and Hussein Sabzian backing vocals Maya Mertens, Diede Blok dramaturgy, production, management Nicole Schuchardt light, sound, video David Lang consultation Eike Böttcher costumes Dorothea Andrae

A co-production by brut Wien, deSingel Internationale Kunstcampus, HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Beursschouwburg Brussels, Vooruit Gent, Black Box Teater Oslo, Gessnerallee Zurich, Teaterhuset Avant Garden Trondheim.


Dates & Tickets

November 2016

Thu. 17.11.2016 - Array
brut 16 € / 12 € / 8 €

Fri. 18.11.2016 - Array
brut 16 € / 12 € / 8 €

Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Wien

June 2024
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
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brut all over Vienna

brut nordwest


Nordwestbahnstraße 8-10, 1200 Vienna
Subway: U1, U2 (Praterstern), U4 (Friedensbrücke), U6 (Dresdnerstraße) Tram: 5 (Nordwestbahnstraße) Bus: 5A (Wasnergasse)

Meeting point: Gasthaus Hansy at Praterstern


Heinestraße 42 , 1020 Vienna
Subway: U1, U2 (Praterstern) / S-Bahn: S1, S2, S3, S4, S7 (Praterstern) / Tram: 5 (Praterstern)

May - June 2024
Out and about featuring QWIEN
The Nameless of Leopoldstadt

brut at Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien


Freyung 8, 1010 Vienna
Subway: U1 (Stephansplatz), U2 (Schottentor), U3 (Herrengasse) / Tram: 1, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 (Schottentor) / Bus: 1A, 2A (Herrengasse U), 3A (Renngasse)

June 2024
Aldo Giannotti in Collaboration with Karin Pauer

Rote Bar at Volkstheater


Arthur-Schnitzler-Platz 1, 1070 Vienna
Subway: U3 (Volkstheater) / Tram: 49 (Volkstheater) / Bus: 48A (Volkstheater)

brut at Sportplatz 1210


Jedlersdorfer Platz 25, 1210 Vienna
Subway U6 (Florisdorf) / S-Bahn: S1, S2, S3, S4, S7 (Floridsdorf) / Tram: 30, 31 (Brünner Straße / Hanreitergasse) / Bus: 30A, 32A (Toni Fritsch Weg)

studio brut

not accessible

Zieglergasse 25, 1070 Wien
Subway: U3 (Zieglergasse), Tram: 49 (Westbahnstraße / Zieglergasse)

brut nordwest – rehearsal space

not accessible

Nordwestbahnstraße 8-10, 1200 Vienna

June 2024
Exactly As Imagined