case western reserve university



"VERBOTEN: GERMAN CABARET 1920-90" Max Kade Lecture Series

Three public lectures in English will provide the framework and historical background to the workshop Libretto Fatale.  It will introduce the greater Case and Cleveland communities to the Golden Age of the political cabaret, its demise during the Third Reich, and in the former GDR, highlighting the tenuous relationship between German politics and the freedom of speech in the 20th century.  It will also include:


1. "Cabaret Culture: Paris  - Berlin - New York." March 30, 2006,  Clark Hall 206, 4:30-6:00pm. 

Frederick A.  Lubich, Professor of German and Chair, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.  Using old and new recordings, photographic documents, and film excerpts, this presentation will tell of the heyday of liberal freedoms as presented in the Berlin cabarets of the Twenties and early Thirties, and it will relate the fate of these stages and the artists after the establishment of Nazi power in 1933.  The tale unfolds through case studies of three stages that represented the best cabaret art of Germany's young democracy: The Cabaret of the Comedians (Kabarett der Komiker, 1924), the Catacombs (Die Katakombe, 1929), and the Tingel Tangel Theater (1931).         

In its glory, the cabaret was a forum for exploration, creative exchange, and clever but often ambiguous transgression.  Modern Kleinkunst, the miniature art of the small stage, gained its edge through topical allusions, parody, and satire-but for the Nazis, this culture of impudence and individuality had to be suppressed, by force if necessary. The Tingel Tangel and the Katakombe continued to operate in the first years of the Third Reich until they were closed down by the Gestapo in 1935.  The "KaDeKo," on the other hand, negotiated a slippery slope with the new regime, which harbored bitter suspicions of any form of satire and playfulness, until it was closed in late 1944.


2. "The Rise and Fall of the Weimar Cabaret." April 13, 2006, Clark Hall 206, 4:30-6:30pm

Alan Lareau, Associate Professor of German, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. This presentation will focus on the topic of politics, transgression, and suppression by presenting two case studies: The political cabarets Tingel-Tangel (1931) and Katakombe (1929) before and after Hitler's rise to power and the closing of both stages by the Gestapo in 1935.  He will conclude with an outlook on cabaret and jazz under the Nazis.

3. "'No Drinks or Improv Allowed!' The Idiosyncrasies of Censorship in East German Political Cabaret, 1953-1989." April 20, 2006, Clark Hall 206, 4:30-6:00pm

Michelle Ricci, Visiting Professor at Oberlin College, Ohio. This lecture will outline the origins and objectives of the East German Political cabarets and the tenuous relationship among censorship, performance and reception. It will then examine specific cases where censors clashed with writers of the leading professional cabarets--Berlin's Distel, Dresden's Herkuleskeule, and Leipzig's Akademixer.  Professor Ricci's presentation will end with reflections on the legacy of GDR censorship for the former GDR cabaretists and cabaret venues that continue to exist after 1989.