Google+ About: Joseph Pearson | The Needle: Berlin


Joseph Pearson

Bio / Inquiries / Clippings


Joseph Pearson is a writer and cultural historian based in Berlin.


His book Berlin (Reaktion/ U Chicago Press), a portrait of the capital, was published in July 2017. He is a contributing writer for the BBCNewsweekMonocle Magazine, The European, The Globe and Mail, and other press outlets. Journal publications include: Agni, the New England Review, and European History Quarterly. He is the essayist of the Schaubühne Theatre, and, since 2008, the voice of The Needle, one of Berlin’s most popular blogs. His work has been translated into German, Italian, French, Slovene, Mandarin and Arabic.

Born in Canada, he received his doctorate in history at Cambridge University, UK, in 2001. He chairs a graduate writing workshop at New York University in Berlin, and teaches creative non-fiction at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). He was previously a lecturer in the Core Curriculum at Columbia University in New York City.

He also lived for a time in Central Asia working for the United Nations, but that’s another story…

Professional Inquiries

joseph [AT]

Selected Clippings

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New!/ Books / Blog / Theatre Writing / Print Journalism / Praxis Writing 


NEW BOOK!  1 JULY 2017

Pearson, Joseph. Berlin (Cityscopes Series). London: Reaktion Books (University of Chicago Press, distr.).




18 DEC 2017, Festive Cheer. BBC (online).

18 NOV 2017, Daydreaming Theatre: Marcus Lindeen’s Wild Minds. Comédie de Caen. 

23 OCT 2017, What the German Language Reveals About Attitudes to Work. BBC (online).

02 OCT 2017, Creative Unrest: Milo Rau’s »LENIN«. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

19 SEPT 2017,  Class Traitors: Didier Eribon and Thomas Ostermeier’s »Returning to Reims«. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).



Translation of book on industrial designer, Enzo Mari (from Italian to English):

Obrist, Hans Ulrich (trans. Joseph Pearson), Enzo Mari: The Conversations Series. Cologne, Walther König, 2009.






Blog Writing: The Needle

The Needle is one of Berlin’s most popular English-language blogs, and appears bi-weekly. Almost 200 essay-length posts have been published since it was established in 2008 as the Berlin Memory Blog. The Needle receives approx. 30 000 page views per month (as of 11/15). It has been voted among of Berlin’s best blogs and websites. The blog has been frequently translated into Italian for Il Mitte and featured on Slow Travel Berlin.


Theatre Writing:

I am the essayist of the  Schaubühne Theatre, writing the column: Pearson’s Preview. Since 2014, I have interviewed more than two dozen leading international theatre directors including Thomas Ostermeier, Romeo Castellucci and Simon McBurney. The column is translated into German.


15 SEPT 2017,  Not a Piña Colada« Herbert Fritsch, Volksbühne Exiles, and the Giant Blimp. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

11 MAY 2017, Theatre Shouldn’t Make You Feel Safe: Marius von Mayenburg’s “Peng”. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

04 APRIL 2017, Hamnet and the Theatre of “Unnaturalism”. Dead Centre Return to the Schaubühne. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

31 MARCH 2017, Forgetting how to fail: Conversations with Roger Bernat. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

27 MARCH 2017, Creating Distance: Anne-Cécile Vandalem’s “Tristesses”. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

27 MARCH 2017, What’s Gone Wrong in America? A Conversations with Romeo Castellucci. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

23 MARCH 2017, Theatre that Lies to Tell the Truth (with an appearance by Pablo Escobar). Mapa Teatro’s “Los Incontados”. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

21 MARCH 2017, Home Cooking and Intimacy. Richard Nelson’s “The Gabriels”. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

14 MAR 2017, Poetry that Smashes Our Comfort. Angélica Liddell’s Dead Dog at Dry Cleaners. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

MARCH 2017,   The Last Supper, a Q&A with Ahmed El Attar’.  Interview with Director. Program reprint from Pearson’s Preview. Hong Kong Arts Festival.

16 FEB 2017, Conversations with Thomas Ostermeier and Simon McBurney. Barbican Centre London (Program).

23 JAN 2017, Love Hurts in Tindr Times, a Conversation with Director Patrick Wengenroth.  Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).


19 DEC 2016, Professor Bernhardi: Bullying, Intrigue and Survival. Interview with director Thomas Ostermeier. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview)

8 DEC 2016, Katharina Ziemke: Paintings that Illuminate Themselves. Interview with visual artist. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

OCT 2016, ‘Lepa Telesa in Bella Figura Yasmine Reza’ (in Slovene)/ Beautiful Corpses and Yasmina Reza’s Bella Figura. Interview with Director: Thomas Ostermeier. Program reprint from Pearson’s Preview.  Ljubljana City Theatre, Slovenia.

28 OCT 2016, Dreaming Camus’ Stranger. Interview with Director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

26 SEPT 2016, Not Theatre, Not Film: Katie Mitchell’s ‘Third Art’. Interview with Director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

03 SEPT 2016, Empire, on and off Stage: A Conversation with Milo Rau. Interview with Director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

23 JUNE 2016, ‘FEAR and the Far Right, Conversations with Falk Richter’. Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

10 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: Amir Reza Koohestani and “Hearing” between the lines’.  Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

10 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: Daydreaming Theatre, Marcus Lindeen’s Wild Minds‘. Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

10 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: Romeo Castellucci’s Conversations with Spinoza (and ours with mind and body). Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

07 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: Conversations with Sanja Mitrovic’ Part One and Part Two . Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

05 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: The Prism of the Red Army Faction’. Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

04 APRIL 2016, ‘FIND 2016: The Last Supper, a Q&A with Ahmed El Attar’.  Interview with director. Schaubühne theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

18 MAR 2016, ‘FIND 2016: Unfinished Plays for Unfinished People: Dead Centre in Berlin‘.  Interview with director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

10 FEB 2016, ‘Pulling back the Curtain on Borgen’.  Interview with director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

05 FEB 2016, ‘Sekt or Champagne? “Approximately equal” –Mina Salehpour takes Comedy seriously’. Interview with director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).


30 NOV 2015, ‘”Beware of Pity”: Playing Ball with Simon McBurney’.  Interview with director. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

28 SEPT 2015.  West Berlin and ‘Westalgie’: There’s Blues in the House. Interview with director: Rainald Grebe. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

08 SEPT 2015. thisisitgirl: women who write their own roles (so men can too). Interview with director: Patrick Wengenroth. Schaubühne Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

13 MAY 2015. Beautiful Corpses and Yasmina Reza’s Bella Figura. Interview with Director: Thomas Ostermeier.  Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

01 MAY 2015. Tormenting the Cleaning Lady: Marius von Mayenburg’s »Stück Plastik«. Interview with Director: Marius von Mayenburg.  Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

01 MAY 2015. Falk Richter goes Down Under: »The Complexity of Belonging«. Interview with Director: Falk Richter. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

24 APRIL 2015. F.I.N.D. #15Imagining the Future of the Left: Teatro La Re-sentida at the Schaubühne. Interview with Director: Marco Layera. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

17 APRIL 2015. F.I.N.D. #15. »Sœurs«: A correspondence with Wajdi Mouawad. Interview with Director: Wajdi Mouawad. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

17 APRIL 2015. F.I.N.D. #15. Killed by the hand that feeds you: Rafael Spregelburd’s »Spam«. Interview with Director: Rafael Spregelburd. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

17 APRIL 2015. Cue Press, critical introduction for the book edition of Rafael Sprengelburd’s play ‘Spam’. 

10 APRIL 2015.  F.I.N.D. #15. »It will seem like nothing, as it should«. In Conversation with Richard Nelson about »The Apple Family Plays«. Interview with Director: Richard Nelson. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

24 MARCH 2015. F.I.N.D. #15. From Mentos to Mustaches: Yonatan Levy and the Mystery of Saddam Hussein.  Interview with Director: Yonatan Levy. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

18 MARCH 2015. F.I.N.D. #15 Milo Rau, »The Civil Wars«, and Europe on trial.  Interview with Director: Milo Rau. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

25 FEBRUARY 2015. Violence is What You Don’t Expect: Romeo Castellucci’s »Oedipus the Tyrant«. Interview with Director: Romeo Castellucci. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

29 JANUARY 2015. Celebrating Evil: Richard III at the Schaubühne. Interview with Director: Thomas Ostermeier. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.


28 DECEMBER 2014. An Autopsy of the GDR: Armin Petras’ Divided Heaven Interview with Director: Armin Petras.  Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview). German Translation.

03 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14240 Hours of MEAT. Interview with Creators of immersive theatre piece: Thomas Bo Nilsson,and Borghildur Indridadóttir. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

04 APRIL 2015. F.I.N.D. #14Murders in the Desert: Roberto Bolaño in Berlin.  Interview with Director: Àlex Rigola. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

05 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14Why Theatre, and its »Idiots«, Still Matter in Today’s Russia. Interview with Director: Kirill Serebrennikov: Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

06 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14Art Starts When You Betray Yourself : 33 RPM and a Few Seconds. Interview with Directors: Rabih Mroué and Lina Saneh. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

07 APRIL 2015. F.I.N.D. #14. That Bastard, Peter Pan: The Theatre of Angélica Liddell in Berlin.  Interview with Director: Angélica Liddell. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

08 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14. Caught in the Act: The Franz Ferdinand Assassination on Stage. Interview with Director: Mina Salehpour . Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

09 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14 The »Black Paintings« of Rodrigo García. Interview with Director: Rodrigo García. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

10 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14. How to Melt an Ice Cap with a Match Mexico’s Incendiary Politics on Stage.  Interview with Directors: Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodríguez.  Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).

11 APRIL 2014. F.I.N.D. #14. When Humour Is Corrosive: A Play That Won’t Change the World. Interview with Director: Marco Layera. Schaubühne Theatre Berlin (Pearson’s Preview).


Print Journalism, Online Magazines, Literary Magazines, Journals, and Radio

19 DEC 2016, Joseph Pearson: Behind the Byline, interview by Josh Tyree. New England Review.

4 DEC 2016, ‘German theater director Thomas Ostermeier takes on the far-right’. Newsweek (online and print).

NOV 2016. Monocle Travel Guide. Short History of Berlin.

01 OCT 2016, Three German Cities. New England Review, Vol 37, No. 3.

11 JULY 2016, A Love Letter to My #Brexit Lover. Allegra Laboratory.

1 APRIL 2016. Monocle Travel Guide. Short History of Vienna.

22 JAN 2016. Monocle Radio (from 20:00), ‘Gay Superheroes at the Schwules* Museum in Berlin’.

JAN 2016. Monocle Magazine, The Forecast 2016, ‘Habsburg Hipsters and the Future of Europe’.

18 JAN 2016 (UK release).  National Geographic documentary, ‘Nazi Megastructures‘. Interviewed as local expert.

10 DEC 2015. Monocle Radio. The Urbanist: Hipsters. Interview.

30 JULY 2015. The European. ‘Terror-Tourismus‘ (In German online, article is about climate change and mass tourism. English press edition PDF available on request). Author bio.

28 MAY 2014. Il Mitte (Berlin Chess Scene). La scena scacchistica underground di Berlino: Night of the Pawn. (trans. Valerio Bassan).

21 MAY 2014. Il Mitte (M41: The Ghetto Bus). L’M41, il bus del ghetto di Berlino (trans. Valerio Bassan).

27 APRIL 2014. Il Mitte (Italian brunch in Berlin). Il brunch berlinese all’italiana, da Brio (trans. Valerio Bassan).

24 APRIL 2014. Il Mitte (Is Berlin Over? Yawn). Berlino è finita? Che noia. (trans. Valerio Bassan).

17 APRIL 2014. Il Mitte (How Berlin Looks After Paris). Come appare Berlino, dopo Parigi (trans. Valerio Bassan).

16 APRIL 2014. Il Mitte (When You’re from Kotti…). Sei di Kotti se… (trans. Valerio Bassan).

NOVEMBER 2011,  Ex-Berliner: Berlin in English. ‘Roll me in Bread and Take a Big Bite. Test Drive: Berlin’s Best Schnitzel’.

NOVEMBER 2011: Ex-Berliner: Berlin in English. ‘The Weinerei Goes Underground, Literally’.

16 JANUARY 2011. Slow Travel Berlin. ‘Café Einstein’. Author page.

JANUARY 2011. ‘Limits on Discussion: The Rhetoric of Homosexuality and Gender in Middle-Eastern Visual Art’. Article in Indicated by Signs (Bonn: 2010), accompanying an exhibit at the Bonner Kunsthalle. Translated into Arabic.

1 OCTOBER 2010 (Vol. 40), European History Quarterly, Special Issue. ‘Dubrovnik’s Artistic Patrimony, and its Role in War Reporting (1991)’ .

15 NOVEMBER 2010. Slow Travel Berlin. Night of the Pawn: Berlin’s Underground Chess Scene. Author page.

JANUARY 2010: Ex-Berliner: Berlin in English. ‘Berlin’s Future Climate’.

JULY 2009: Ex-Berliner: Berlin in English. ‘Interview with a playwright: Marius von Mayenburg’.

MAY 2009: Ex-Berliner: Berlin in English. ‘Very Serious Horsing Around’.

24 JULY 2008. The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper). ‘Obama woos Europe with talk of “shared destiny”. (front page, one of two articles on his visit I wrote). Author page here.

International Herald Tribune (Italy Daily). Travel writing (no link, PDF on request).

2007 (Issue 65).  AGNI Literary Journal. ‘Mexico in Ruins’. Author bio here.


Praxis Englisch

1 APRIL 2012 (vol. 2). Praxis Englisch. ‘Containing Contagion’. Pandemics.

1 APRIL 2012 (vol. 2). Praxis Englisch. ‘Canadian school children learn how to survive in the wilderness’.

1 DECEMBER 2011 (vol. 6). Praxis Englisch. ‘Canada’s Oil-stained Reputation’.

1 DECEMBER 2011 (vol. 6). Praxis Englisch. ‘Who Owns the Arctic?’

1 OCTOBER 2011 (vol. 5). Praxis Englisch.  “I will never be a German” How a Canadian experiences life in Berlin.

1 JANUARY 2011 (vol. 1). Praxis Englisch. ‘The Language of Power’. Language and Politics in Britain.

1 JANUARY 2011 (vol. 1). Praxis Englisch. ‘The Accent of Power’.  Language and Politics in Britain.

1 JANUARY 2011 (vol. 1). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Getting Tough of Hooligans’. Anti-social legislation in Britain.

1 AUGUST 2010 (vol. 4). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Addicted to War’. The mentality of War Journalism.

1 AUGUST 2010 (vol. 4). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Danger, Bears!’ Hiking in Canadian Rockies.

1 AUGUST 2010 (vol. 4). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Watched Closely in Burma’. The Secret Police in Burma.

1 JUNE 2010 (vol. 3) Praxis Englisch. ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost: British Rail: much change for the worse’.

1 APRIL 2010 (vol. 2). Praxis Englisch. ‘Cambridge College Life Is Determined by Hierarchies’.

1 FEBRUARY 2010 (vol. 1). Praxis Englisch. ‘Brain Drain: White South Africans look for a better life in Canada’.

1 DECEMBER 2009 (vol. 6). Praxis Englisch. ‘Country or City? Impressions of rural and urban life’.

1 OCTOBER 2009 (vol. 5.). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Taking the Best from Each World. ‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCK): raised in Germany with several cultures. Interkulturelle Konflikte inszenieren mit critical incidents – Kommentar’.

1 OCTOBER 2009 (vol. 5). Praxis Englisch. ‘A Success with Kids: Robert Munsch’.

1 AUGUST 2009 (vol 4.) Praxis Englisch. ‘Make a Difference, Get an Education. United World Colleges offer students a unique international experience’.

1 JUNE 2009 (vol. 3).  Praxis Englisch. ‘English with a Maltese Accent. Learning English in the Mediterranean’.

1 APRIL 2009 (vol 2. ). Praxis Englisch.  ‘Permission to Explore. Alternative Religion in Vancouver’.

1 APRIL 2009 (vol. 2). Praxis Englisch. ‘A Breath of Air. Leaving civilization behind has its dangers’.