About the event

What would it be like to listen in on a conversation between Austrian composer Hanns Eisler and Brecht scholar Hans Bunge in East Berlin in 1958? Bunge recorded fourteen interviews with the courageous and committed left-wing composer that are the script for this performance held in tandem with the James Gallery exhibition “A World Redrawn: Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood.” Eisler was an enormously intelligent and entertaining conversationalist: sharp, witty, incisive, humorous and lively. His wide breadth of knowledge and profound understanding of historical processes provide unlikely insights into culture in Europe in the mid-twentieth century.

Performing the interview translated into English are Paul Clements as Eisler with questions read by Sabine Berendse, the daughter of Hans Bunge, who was one of Bertolt Brecht’s assistants at the Berliner Ensemble. After the playwright’s death in 1956, Brecht’s widow Helene Weigel gave him the responsibility of creating the Brecht Archive. The performance will offer a glimpse into another era and the opportunity for the audience also to ask questions of these historical characters. The show includes recordings of Eisler’s music in different genres and four are of Eisler singing and accompanying himself at the piano. Rarely seen photographic images of Eisler and others illustrate the performance.

The evening will open with music by Eisler performed by Hannah Temple, accordion, and Jeffrey Gavett, voice.

This event is presented as part of Mediating the Archive, an interdisciplinary research group that employs public humanities practices and explores narration as a guide for social change. The group is supported by the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research. For more information, email ch@gc.cuny.edu.

Cosponsored by the Mediating the Archive Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research in the Humanities, and the Ph.D. Program in Theatre, The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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