Some people die when they’re very old, and some in single digits. Only one thing’s for certain: none of us escape it. A fact and absurdity not lost on this winning ten-year-old.
Sick since even before Jette can remember, her brother Emil now has died. The feelings that losing him evoke in her are huge and confusing. Most simply, it feels as though a dark raincloud has descended over her family. And then there's the ridiculous fact that nobody seems to know what happens after you die, and yet adults often talk as if they do. Told in the first-person voice of a wry, observant 10-year-old girl, Do Fish Sleep? by Jens Raschke is an honest, darkly funny look into loss, memory, and the search for answers.
Originally performed as a one-girl play, Do Fish Sleep? was a breakout success at the box office, and received both the 2012 Mülheimer Children’s Theater Prize and the 2014 MDR Children’s Radio Play Prize. Do Fish Sleep? has been a best-seller in Germany since publication and has been translated into several languages.
Praise for Do Fish Sleep?:
"Jette was ten last Monday. Ten. 'That is a one with a zero after it,' says Jette. Jette’s dad says you call that 'double digits'. It’s a strange feeling, somehow, to be double-digit, thinks Jette. 'There are even people who are triple-digit. A hundred years old. And even more! Like those giant tortoises at the zoo.' Jette’s brother Emil only lived to be six. That’s just single-digit. Jette tells us what it was like when Emil fell ill and suddenly wasn’t there anymore. She remembers the times before that, happy family holidays, the usual teasing between siblings and all the questions she asked her parents to which they never had an answer. Can blind worms sneeze? Why is the sun so hot? And what is 'dying’? What happens to us when we are 'dead’? Is death really the 'big brother of sleep’? And anyway, do fish sleep too? And will the angry black clouds that Jette has been painting for a year lighten up one day? Do they have to? Jens Raschke has written an undogmatic, sometimes light-hearted and sometimes sad play for one performer about one of the last taboo subjects of our day - a child experiencing and coming to terms with death. The play addresses children and adults, siblings and parents, pupils and teachers. It is not about answers, but about the way we deal with life’s small, great and ultimate questions." —Theater im Werftpark, Kiel
"In all its seriousness, 'Do Fish Sleep?' is also intended to have its light aspects. And much more than telling us about the death of the little boy, it tells of his big sister’s grief." —Kieler Nachrichten
"To write a stage play for children about a child’s death is a delicate business. Jens Raschke has made a very good job of this difficult task. With sensitivity and a sense of proportion, he addresses the big, ultimate questions surrounding the taboo subject of death in his play for one performer “Do Fish Sleep?” [...] The changes of mood, often coinciding with changes of roles, are effective and convincing. Minimal props ensure additional dynamism in this monologue about death that is so full of life." —Kieler Nachrichten
- German Children’s Theatre Prize
- Kinderhörspielpreis des MDR (Children’s Radio Play Prize of MDR)
- Mülheimer KinderStückePreis (Mülheimer Children’s Piece Prize)