On the Couch with Sigmund Freud – “Freud’s Last Session” at the Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles

Odyssey Theatre in Los Angles opens the 2018 season with a thought provoking theatre play. “Freud’s Last Session” takes on the ever-present question of God’s existence.

We all have heard of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis. While Freud is world known as the father of psychoanalysis and his book Interpretations of Dreams, everyone is familiar with C.S.Lewis’ series of fantasy novels The Chronicles of Narnia.

But who is the real human being behind each one of the two acclaimed personalities? Do we know Freud or Lewis, even if we claim to understand their philosophical teachings and theories as well as their academic and personal convictions?

In “Freud’s Last Session”, Author Mark St. Germain is trying to give us a glimpse into the human side of these two brilliant minds. He effectively ‘spices up’ their academic debate with each one’s very own personal biases and hang-ups.

Be prepared for an intense battle of opinions and convincing words as you witness a verbal power fight between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis that is spiked with humor and wit.

The play imagines a meeting between these two influential minds on Sept. 3, 1939, the day when England entered WW II and just two weeks before Freud took his own life. Their conversation about the greatest question of all time is going beyond Freud’s psychoanalytical and atheist theories and Lewis’ Christian beliefs.

We learn that Lewis just recently converted back to the Christian faith after having been an atheist for much of his life. Freud, for whom “the concept of God is ludicrous”, can’t fathom how a man of Lewis’ intellect would have ever abandoned ‘the truth’ [atheism] only to become a devout Christian. He is mocking Lewis for his St. Paul-like conversion.

Freud, who had to witness one of his daughters and a grandchild die, who was forced to leave his home after Hitler occupied Austria, and who is suffering through the advanced stages of oral cancer, questions the existence of a God, seeing only a world full of pain and a dictator, like Hitler, trying to destroy humanity. Lewis tries to make sense of it all by mentioning that “history is filled with monsters” and that evil is necessary to bring out the good and to help restore balance.

During the play each of the two debaters finds himself sitting on Freud’s couch as both try to psychoanalyze each other. They find out that they share a deep disdain for their father. Freud hereafter insists that Lewis’ converting back to Christianity can be blamed solely on the blatant search for the ideal father figure. But Lewis cleverly counterattacks stating that Freud seems to detest God as he detests his father.

Throughout the play, death is a persistent constant making the question of God’s existence ever more relevant. While Freud struggles visibly with the actual signs of death by suffering through the last stages of cancer, Lewis is reminded of its presence by the immediacy of England entering WW II. A fact that revives memories of terror in him of the time when he served as a soldier in WW I, in which he was wounded and lost his best friend.

Freud and Lewis bid each other goodbye at last with Lewis saying, “My idea of God. It constantly changes. …Still, I feel the world is crowded with Him.”  Freud sends Lewis on his way stating that if Lewis was right [with his Christian faith], “We will see each other again” but if he [Freud] was right, they would never find out!

“Freud’s Last Session” is a play that is carried solely by the conversations of two characters. It lives of the words and interpretations of only two actors. Not an easy thing to do.

Both, Martin Rayner as Sigmund Freud and Martyn Stanbridge as C.S. Lewis do an excellent job bringing the characters to life. Particularly Rayner as Freud vividly displays what Freud must have gone through in his last days of life. One is simply united in pain with him when Freud (Rayner) suffers through his agonizing coughing attacks.

“Freud’s Last Session” is another excellent production by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble that encourages its audience to continue the conversation beyond the theater’s walls.

We surely left the play with a mind busy with self-reflection and making sense of our own existence. …A good exercise to start out the new year!

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“Freud’s Last Session” written by Mark St, Germain, directed by Emmy Award-winner Robert Mandel plays at the Odyssey Theatre from January 13th – March 4th, 2018.

Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, Jan. 24; Thursday, Feb. 8; Wednesday, Feb. 21; and Thursday, March 1, all at 8 p.m.

  • Tickets: $30 to $35;
  • Tix for $10” performances are on Wednesday, Jan. 24; Friday, Feb. 2; and Thursday, March 1.
  • Talkbacks with the cast follow the performances on Friday, Jan. 19 and Wednesday, Jan. 24.
  • Wine night at the Odyssey: Enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show on the third Friday of every month.

The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Images depicting Martin Rayner and Martyn Stanbridge
Photos by Enci Box,  ©Odyssey Theatre

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My Wagging Year in Review

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MY WAGGING YEAR IN REVIEW

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had wonderful Holidays, no matter how you celebrated. In this past week of the new year, I have seen a lot of posts about people reviewing the past year on social media.  This inspired me to do a specific “year in review” post.

I have been working as a dog walker for over a year now, and let me tell you, there have been some situations that caused me to consider quitting. Luckily though, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones, and my tremendous love for dogs keeps me going every day.

So today, I’d like to share with you my top five most memorable moments working as a dog walker in Orange County and Los Angeles.  Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

1)  I once accepted an on-demand walk in the Playa Del Rey area, and when I arrived at the house to get the dogs, an older man opened the door. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting yet, but did I mention that he was topless? I am by far no prude, and he could definitely afford to walk around without a shirt- he was in great shape.  I just didn’t expect it and was a little taken aback.

I tried to stay cool and to not glance at his chest, but I definitely got distracted. I couldn’t wait to leave with the dogs, and when we returned from our walk, he was fully clothed. I have only had one other walk booked with these two dogs, and the second time, his wife was home. The inside of me just thought “Thank God” when a completely dressed woman opened the door for me.

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2) I had this one regular client who was usually never home when I picked up his dogs. At one point back last year, he requested a walk for Sunday morning. As usual, I expected for him not to be home.  Once I had opened the front door to his house, I noticed a weird, unusual smell- it can be best described as a mixture of pot and alcohol, all throughout the house.

When I stepped further inside and looked into the living room to see if the dogs were there, I witnessed what looked like the aftermath of a pretty wild party. Pillows were scattered all over the floor; open and empty bottles of all sorts of alcohol were lying around and standing on tables; but no sign of either one of the dogs. I started to call out their names until I heard noises coming from upstairs.

I looked up but couldn’t see anything, until a male voice started speaking. He sounded very apologetic as well as a bit hung over. I figured that it was the owner, who was recovering from the previous night. I didn’t get to see him (Again, Thank God!), I just heard him gushing the dogs down the stairs, which then came walking towards me with wagging tails. I could swear they seemed relieved to get out of the marijuana infused house just as much as me.

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3)  The most serious incident that occurred during my dog walking days happened in November.  I was watching one of my private clients’ two dogs while she was on vacation.  As usual, I took the pups out on an afternoon stroll around the pretty quiet neighborhood.  Nothing out of the regular happened until we passed one particular house.

While the dogs were sniffing around, I suddenly heard a female voice from behind, calling “Excuse me.” I turned around and saw this older lady, holding a phone in her hand.  She looked at me desperately and asked if I could call 911 for her. I never had to dial these three digits before in my life, and I got very nervous and anxious when she asked me. Of course, I didn’t hesitate a second to call while the lady sat down in a chair on her porch.

The dispatcher on the other end of the line picked up in an instant. She asked me about the emergency, and since I didn’t know the situation, I turned to the lady and prayed that she would be able to answer. She told me that she had trouble breathing and that she was over 80 years old. My heart sank. While I was reporting this information through the phone to the dispatcher, a police car was already arriving.  I was astonished how quickly help came by.

The police officer looked after the lady while I was still on the phone.  The next moment, I could hear sirens from far. Again, I couldn’t believe how fast the first responders arrived. Once the dispatcher told me that everything was taken care of and I could hang up the phone, I quickly walked over to the police officer and the lady and asked him if he’d like me to stay.  He said that it was o.k. for me to leave.

I still kept looking back towards the house when I proceeded with the dogs just to see if the ambulance had arrived.  I felt really sad for this lady since she was living by herself and had to ask a complete stranger to help her out during such a scary situation. The following days, I kept being on the lookout for her whenever I passed this particular house. Luckily, one of these days she was standing on her porch together with another woman. I felt relieved to know that she seemed to be better.

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4) I had a “walk” once with a very energetic (this is an understatement) dog.  All I knew was that the dog was still a puppy, and so I was super excited before my arrival at the client’s house. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into until I got the dog.  It was a nice summer day, and the puppy was waiting for me in the backyard.  The owner, like so many of my clients, wasn’t home, but he had left notes of where to find the dog’s leash.

There were two pretty major problems that made it a little tricky to get the walk started. One, the dog was behaving totally out of control and kept jumping while playfully nipping me at the same time. Two, I couldn’t find the leash for God’s sake. I looked around and around but no sign of it anywhere.  I started texting the owner to ask him and he directed me to a couple spots where I should search.  Still no success.

After being at the house for about 30 minutes already and still not able to start the walk or find the leash, the owner suggested I should just take one of his belts from his closet and strap it around the dog’s harness.  I couldn’t believe what I read. The suggestion made me very uncomfortable, especially since the dog was so hyper and would probably break loose.

I told the owner my concerns and he was understanding. He then suggested I would just play with his dog and count it as walk time. Luckily shortly after, the owner’s roommate arrived and was able to find the leash for me in the garage.  The puppy and I quickly proceeded on our outing so that he could release some energy.

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5) One of my favorite memories from last year happened during the summer.  I was doing a house sitting up in LA and had a new walk client scheduled for one of the mornings I was up in the area.  All the information I received beforehand included the address and the breeds of the two dogs.

On the particular morning, I made sure to arrive at the client’s house a couple minutes before the scheduled time in case he would have any questions and so that the dogs could get used to me. I was standing in front of the owner’s apartment door and knocked.  I heard dogs barking and footsteps coming towards me.

I did not expect that I was about to be greeted by a particular person.  Once the front door was fully opened. I had to raise my head up to be able to see the guy’s face, he was that tall.  I don’t think I have ever seen such a tall person in my life before.  He measured at least 7 feet.

Right away I figured that he must be a Basketball player.  There was just no other way.  He was not the most talkative person, but he helped me get the dogs ready and gave me a key to the house since he was not going to be home upon our return.  I know it sounds silly, but I got a little star struck and became extra nervous to make a good impression.

The walk went fine, and throughout the entire hour I couldn’t stop thinking about my first “celebrity-walk-experience”.  As soon as I dropped the dogs back of at the house, I went to a coffee shop right across the street for Internet access.  I looked up the dog owner’s name and sure enough, he was an NBA player. Of course, I couldn’t hold back and had to share that experience with my friends, and it kept me smirking for days.

To many more wagging experiences to come in 2018 and to all of you a year full of happiness and health!

Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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3 Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve German Style – It’s ‘Silvester’!

Three Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve German Style 

1 – FIREWORKS 

What 4th of July is for the American that’s New Year’s Eve or ‘Silvester’ for the German – at least, measured by the number of fireworks that go into the air that night. And that means fireworks galore! Every family is sure to sport some kind of firework and many have fireworks that would be called illegal in California, like skyrockets. (illegal fireworks in California include all that “…go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner”) In Germany, they are allowed. Unfortunately every year the press reports incidents of severe accidents because of them. 

2 – BLEIGIESSEN / Lead Pouring

This is a most favorite custom that lets the Germans play fortune teller on New Year’s Eve. Originally, small chunks of lead are melted in a spoon over the flame of a candle. As soon as the lead is liquid you pour the molten lead into a bowl of cold water where the lead will take on various shapes. These ’frozen” shapes will be interpreted to tell a person’s fate for the upcoming new year. As you can imagine this makes for a great topic of conversation.  One can buy lead pouring kits for this particular custom but many families use also wax instead of lead since it is safer.

3 – “DINNER FOR ONE” –

Now, this is a very special tradition for Germans. A tradition that literally doesn’t sound German at all! But it’s one, that is not to be missed and in fact, it is all over the TV channels all night long. We are talking about “Dinner for One” which is actually a comedy sketch in English! Yet, Germans can’t get enough of this 18-minute sketch and love watching it during every new year’s eve celebration. We have it posted for you right below:

“Same procedure as every year!”

We wish everyone a Happy New Year! –

Wir wünschen einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!


Zeit (Ein Gedicht)

ZEIT

(Ein Gedicht von Julia Eichberger)
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Zeit zum Nachdenken.
Zeit für die Lieben.
Zeit für sich.

Zeit zusammen.
Zeit vereint.
Zeit allein.

Zeit vergeht.
Zeit läuft.

Keine Zeit,
die nicht verfliegt.
Drum sei um die Zeit
stets bemüht.

©Julia Eichberger

Image: Pixabay.com

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Happy New Year Wishes To All Our Members and Readers!

We thank you for your loyalty throughout 2017. 

See you in 2018!

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Julia Eichberger,  was born 1987 in Stralsund as the oldest kid out of three and lives now in Brandenburg near Berlin with husband and daughter.

She has enjoyed writing since her childhood. In 2012 her first poem was published by a small publishing house (https://www.sperlingverlag.de/). Several poems followed.

A trained banker, Julia is currently working for an insurance company, but since writing is a passion of hers, she still finds time to write short stories and poems. If you would like to read more of her work, check out her website: www.mach-mal-nen-spruch.de

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Weihnachtswunsch (Ein Gedicht)

 

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas with a merry Poem by Julia Eichberger! Wir wünschen allen ein friedvolles und gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest mit einem Gedicht von Julia Eichberger!

 

Weihnachtswunsch

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(Ein Gedicht von Julia Eichberger)

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Unter jedem Kerzenschein

sollen Glück und Liebe sein,

dass in jedem Heim

die Heiterkeit kehrt ein.

Unter jedem Tannenbaum

erfüllen soll sich jeder Traum;

der von mehr Zeit

und  von weniger Leid.

Unter jedem Dach der Welt;

Familie, die zusammenhält.

Kummer und Harm soll’n schwinden

und sind nie mehr zu finden.

 

©Julia Eichberger

Image: Pixabay.com

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Julia Eichberger,  was born 1987 in Stralsund as the oldest kid out of three and lives now in Brandenburg near Berlin with husband and daughter.

She has enjoyed writing since her childhood. In 2012 her first poem was published by a small publishing house (https://www.sperlingverlag.de/). Several poems followed.

A trained banker, Julia is currently working for an insurance company, but since writing is a passion of hers, she still finds time to write short stories and poems. If you would like to read more of her work, check out her website: www.mach-mal-nen-spruch.de

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