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April, 2007 - Nr. 4


The Editor
Return of Spring
Hoffnung im FrŁhling
Der Osterspaziergang
Let Us Be Lovers
Paul Bernhard Berghorn
An Austrian Delight
K-W & Beyond
Musings of a "Schulleiter"
The Club
Herwig Wandschneider
50th Treaties of Rome
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehŲrt?
Alicier Arts Concert
The Merry Widow
Mooredale Concert Season Concludes
CanStage Presents
Orchestra Toronto
Backstage Toronto 2007
Kristine Bogyo
Living Arts Centre
Deborah Voigt, soprano
Combat Climate Change
Glass Sky Bridge

"Brecht Fest" in Waterloo

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig WandschneiderThis was indeed a "Fest", daringly organized by the Waterloo Centre for German Studies (WCGS) under the leadership of Dr. David John, the Centreís Director. It was daring, because it was a programme that lasted over 6 hours, beginning at 4pm with a lecture - in German - by Professor Sigfrid Hoefer presenting "Brecht wšhrend der Kriegs und Nachkriegszeit" at MacKirdy Hall of St. Paulís College. This was followed by a German "Brecht Schmaus", catered in the same Hall by Chartwells, caterers to various University Colleges, and later -at 8pm - by a U of W Drama Departmentís Theatre presentation of Brechtís "Caucasian Chalk Circle" (in English).

Like Brechtís works or not, each stage of this extraordinary event was a success in its own right.

Professors Sigfrid Hoefert & David John   [photo: Herwig Wandschneider]The lecture by Prof Hoefert, best known as passionate literary researcher, was well received. He presented a broad picture of Brechtís restless life and variable recognition, wherever he went. Brecht is sometimes referred to as "influential German socialist dramatist", and Ė by Max Frisch - as "durchschlagend wirkungslos" ("profoundly without effect"). Prof Hoefert, adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, was bombarded with questions from the predominantly German audience, who clearly had a great interest in Brechtís tumultuous life, controversial works and his exile travels in Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and North America.

Brecht-Schmaus at MacKirdy Hall   [photo: Herwig Wandschneider]

The "Schmaus" was indeed that Ė a truely German Schmaus. Organized on behalf of Chartwells, Ronald Turner, Food Services Manager, presented a German buffet of excellent Red Cabbage, Sauerkraut, Bratwurst and Schnitzel etc to this sold-out event. Guests lingered over dessert and coffee in lively debates over the lecture and many arrived a little late at the Theater of the Arts. In the lobby and hallways on the way to the theatre were students performing sketches, as they did earlier after Prof Hoefertís lecture. Also pictures and television film-excerpts were presented to transport the audience back into the events and times Ė to the Zeitgeist - of Bertold Brecht.

Courtney Wilson, Whitney Allen, Marc Rowley, Michael Albert and Julie Kern   [photo: Scott Spidell]The highlight of the "Fest" was the U of W Theatre Departmentís presentation of "Der kaukasische Kreidekreis", the cause for WCGSís "Brecht Fest". Again, you may or may not like Brechtís works, and also this play was and continues to be controversial in its format and its content to this day. (The spirit of the Chalk Circle goes back to Solomonic times and for those, who were not among the more than 250 strong audience, the storyline can be found on the Internet). The management and presentation of this, the UW Drama Departmentís most expensive and complex production to date (Imprint March 16, 2007), was impressive, whether you focused on the stage design, the directing, acting, singing or the costumes. A tremendous work put together by over 100 students, graduates and professionals to bring it to a level of professional theatre. From the prologue, localized in a fashion to the Grand River area, through musical background, song and dialogue, to its conclusion, the performance was fascinating and captivating. Outstandingly convincing performances were delivered by Johnny Trinh as Johnny Trinh as Azdak   [photo: Scott Spidell]singer and Azdak the judge, and Whitney Allen as Grusha, the adoptive mother of Michael, who had been abandoned by his real mother, the Governorís wife. Directed by Alex Fallis and superbly stage managed by Amy Tait, the production was exceptional and memorable.

The play was in English and thus drew all lovers of excellent theatre to this historically controversial piece of German literature. It was an inspired idea by WCGS to take this 8th performance of the play as a cause for developing the "Brecht Fest". The play was thus not only seen by the English speaking K-W community, but served also as a presentation to the German speaking community. In this way, it reflected this publicationís motto "A bilingual bridge between people, generations, culture and countries". The risk taken by WCGS by putting the "Brecht Fest" together in this lengthy format was rewarded by much better than usual attendance of WCGSís events by K-Wís German and German-English bilingual community. Well done and very much worth pursuing in the future.

( Echo Germanica, news, heritage, culture )

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