Ernst Lubitsch

When I Was Dead

Original Title:Als ich tot war

First Slovene production


Diego de Brea

  • Costume designer
    Bjanka Adžić Ursulov
  • Set designer
    Diego de Brea
  • Composer
    Jože Šalej
  • Lighting designer
    Milan Podlogar


De Brea will direct an adaptation of the film When I Was Dead, which the great German director made at the very beginning of his film career in 1916. Starring Lubitsch himself, the film is a burlesque, and had been long considered lost. It was rediscovered in Slovenia in 1994—among materials from the WWI Isonzo Front period—by Silvan Furlan and Lilijana Nedič, both staff members of the then-new Slovenian Cinematheque.The restored film was first screened the following year at the Silent Film Festival in Pordenone, Italy. When I Was Dead is based on the story of a husband who announces his suicide but then disappears; then he reappears, disguised as somebody else. In this burlesque film the plot develops differently from, for example, Pirandello’s famous novel The Late Mattia Pascal. Lubitsch’s hero is a frivolous bon vivant who likes to sneak out in the evenings to go to clubs to play chess amongst men.This annoys his wife, but bothers his mother-in-law even more. One day (actually the middle of the night), she locks him out and the unfortunate husband has to spend the night in the hallway on the uncomfortable staircase.The next day he announces his intention to commit suicide and disappears. But instead of dying, he goes out to taste again the freedom of the bachelor life. However, while “the widow” is in mourning, the husband also becomes tired of idling about. He returns to the wife he still loves disguised as a butler. But his mother-in-law is already looking for a new husband for her daughter; she even brings one home.The false butler does everything to spoil the efforts of the suitor, to mock him, to seduce his wife again, and, finally, to get rid of the annoying mother-in-law. Unusual situations, expressive acting, accentuated facial expressions, gags, and title cards are standard elements of silent burlesque movies. On stage, however, they take on a completely new appearance.We expect that they will be just as amusing as they were in the era of silent films.

Opening night

11 March 2010 Small Stage


75 minutes


  • Gracious Comedy Award of the 20th Days of Comedy

  • Golden Laughter Award for the transformation of silent film to theatre at the 35th Days of Satire

  • 51st Media Sponsor Trnača Art Award at the International Theatre Festival MESS

  • Ardalion Award for authentic theatre presentation at the 16th Yugoslav Theatre Festival

  • Audience Award for best performance at the 16th Yugoslav Theatre Festival

  • Best Performance at the 7th Festival of Mediterranean Theatre Purgatorije

  • Jernej Šugman

    Borštnik Award for Actor

    Veljko Maričić Award at the 19th International Small Scene Theatre Festival Rijeka

    Acting Excellence Award at the 7th Festival of Mediterranean Theatre Purgatorije

  • Diego de Brea
    Gracious Director Award at the 20th Days of Comedy


  • 45th Maribor Theatre Festival (2010)

  • 20th Days of Comedy, Celje (2011)

  • Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Romania (2011)

  • 35th Days of Satire, Zagreb, Croatia (2011)

  • 51st International Theatre Festival MESS, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011)

  • 16th Yugoslav Theatre Festival, Užice, Serbia (2011)

  • International Theatre Festival Mittelfest, Cividale, Italy (2011)

  • 13th Ibero-American Theatre Festival of Bogota, Colombia (2012)

  • 19th International Small Scene Theatre Festival Rijeka, Croatia (2012)

  • “June in Ljubljana” Festival, Ljubljana (2012)

  • BOK Fest – Theatre Festival, Bjelovar, Croatia (2012)

  • 7th Festival of Mediterranean Theatre Purgatorije, Tivat, Montenegro (2012)

  • Festival Passages 2013, Metz, France (2013)

  • 53rd Ohrid Summer Festival, Macedonia (2013)

  • 5th International Theatre Festival, Antalya, Turkey (2014)

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