The Dead are Busy

Die Toten haben zu tun - الموتى مشغولون

Written by: Mudar Alhajji and Wael Kadour

Taha, a young Syrian refugee in Germany after he fled the war in his country. The new world is not uplifting, but he meets (Mira), who helps him overcome several obstacles, such as learning the language and finishing legal papers. However, Taha needs help beyond what Mira could do for him. The Dead are Busy is a new audio drama experience, produced in 2020, written by Mudar Alhajji and Wael Kadour.

Mudar Alhajji


Dramaturg and playwright, born in Idlib, 1981. Mudar is a graduate of the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, Department of Theater Studies in the year 2004. For years, he has worked as a designer for interactive activities for children and as a coach for the teams that offer these activities. He participated in a number of writing workshops and artistic residencies in Europe and the Arab world. Mudar is a founding member of the street theater writing workshop that worked on providing texts about Damascus, and a member of the Eitijahat- Independent Culture foundation team. In 2013, he launched the (Ket, ket, ket) project for writing and documentation workshops with Syrian refugees in (Beirut, Graz, Dresden, Berlin, Zurich), after he immigrated to Germany in 2015 and settled in Berlin. In 2017, he founded the Maqloubah theater gathering in Germany / Mülheim an der Ruhr, and in Berlin he founded the Norse Foundation to support immigrant artists coming to Germany.

Wael Kadour


Syrian director and playwright, graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, 2005. Kadour directed a number of theatrical works in Damascus and abroad, among them, “Ohio impromptu” by Samuel Beckett, “Too Far” by Carol Churchill, “The Small Rooms” by Wael Kadour, “Sun” by Suad Nofal and Wael Kadour, “When Farah Cries” written by Mudar Alhajji (Play Readings), “Rituals of Signs and Transformations” by Saad Allah  Wanous (Play Reading), “City Tales We Don’t Know”, a joint co-directing with Mohammed Al-Rashi. He also wrote a number of radio plays, such as the “Dead are Busy”, produced by Radio Deutschlandfunk, written jointly by Mudar Alhajji, directed by Erik Altorfer, and a six-episode radio series entitled “We are All Refugees”, produced by Refugee Production for a surreal radio.

Erik Altorfer


Erik Altorfer studied German and English literature and linguistics at the University of Zurich and was an assistant director at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. Since 1997, he has worked as director and dramaturg with a focus on contemporary writing and projects that assume various artistic styles in theaters and festivals in Germany, Austria, England, Argentina and Switzerland. Since 2011 he has been teaching at the Zurich Academy of the Arts (faculty of theater: directing and dramaturgy). He directed and adapted radio plays for German and Swiss radio stations. In 2019, he curated the audio drama / blog production “Sounds like a Whisper” at Theatre is a Must festival in Alexandria. In the same year, he was responsible for the production of audio plays for children with students from the Zurich Academy of the Arts. Together with the Syrian playwright Mudar Alhaggi, he led writing/theatre workshops with refugees in Beirut, Graz (Austria) and Zurich (Switzerland).

Martin Schütz


The musician Martin Schütz works as an improviser and composer with electric and acoustic cello and electronic means. He lives in Biel/ Bienne and is active in the city’s extremely lively music scene. Until 2017 he was a member of the legendary trio “koch-schütz-studer”. He has been active for many years as an improvising cellist on the inter- national improvised music scene. As a composer and live musician he has appeared in the theatre with directors such as Christoph Marthaler, Luc Bondy, Christoph Frick and others. He also regularly writes and produces music for radio plays, dance and film. 2004 Culture Prize of the City of Biel/Bienne and 2011 Music Prize of the Canton of Bern. He is also the Curator for the festival EAR WE ARE Biel/Bienne and the Musikfestival Bern. Find his music and more on:

Project Team

  • Larissa Bender

    Translation from Arabic

  • Martin Schütz

    Music composition

  • Hendrik Manook

    Sound Engineer

  • Oliver Dannert

    Sound Engineer

  • Daniel Dietmann

    Sound Engineer

  • Hanna Steger

    Assistant Director

  • Sabine Kuechler


  • Hadeel Sahli

    Internship (language consultant)

  • Ola Ahmed

    Internship (language consultant)

  • Germany Radio - Deutschlandfunk 2019



  • Sebastian Rudolph

    Playing the role of "Taha" in German

  • Rami Khalaf

    Playing the role of "Taha" in Arabic

  • Yvon Jansen

    Playing the role of "Mira" in German

Photo Credits: Raphael Hadad, Derek Szuster, Hajo Drees & Adnan Farzat.