Category Archives: German Literature & Theater

‘The Red Dress’ – Politics and Love in Germany Between the Wars

‘The Red Dress’ (Tania Wisbar)- Odyssey Theatre

‘The Red Dress’ – A World Premiere at The Odyssey Theatre In Los Angeles

Last weekend we were treated to a compelling and thought-provoking play at the Odyssey Theatre in LA. ‘The Red Dress’ by Tania Wisbar left us thinking and drawing parallels to the times we live in today.

‘The Red Dress’, a romantic drama set in Berlin, explores the intersection of politics and art during the years between the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Fascism (1924-1936).

Alexandra Schiele (Laura Liguori) is a famous film actress from a prominent Jewish family who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck World War I vet, Franz Weitrek (J.B. Waterman). Franz is able to parlay his wife’s connections into work as a film director. But when his career takes off making Nazi propaganda films, his wife suddenly becomes a liability. Also in the cast are Rebecca Larsen, Shanti Reinhardt and Dylan Wittrock. Kiff Scholl directs.

The play intelligently taps into personal emotions and tensions caused by the political and social changes during the turbulent years before the rise of Nazism. It touches on the Eugenics Movement as well as some of the horrific actions the National Socialist Party of Hitler was known for. The excellent cast helps with the intensity of some scenes to create suspense throughout the whole play. The scenes spanning quite a few years in history are pulled together by sequences of historical movies and music from the particular eras.

The historical setting of ‘The Red Dress’ around the time of Hitler’s rising might imply a story we all know only too well. Yes, we have heard similar stories before, and, true, we learned about Hitler in school and watched this dark part of history on TV and the movies.

Yet, this play’s story is different! It explores and tries to make sense of why Germany lost its way. It’s different than anything you’ve read because experiencing the play unfold in front of your eyes in a small theatre setting, where one is intimately connected with the actors and their fate, brings about quite a different dimension to it all. The story, yet perhaps not entirely new, brings forth several new facets and lets us rediscover and see many ‘known’ facts from a different angle. Suddenly an ‘old’ story in many ways doesn’t feel outdated anymore.

In fact, the playwright Tania Wisbar leaves her audience with a message of urgency and relevance for today. One can’t shake off some of the lines just heard during the play. They seem to claim validation also in the period of history we are living in. Wisbar might want to remind us that something like we just saw on stage, could happen again if we are not vigilant enough.

Tania Wisbar, who was inspired by her own family history to write ‘The Red Dress’, succeeded in creating a very timely piece considering the uprising of recent nationalist right-wing movements all over the world.

Performances of ‘The Red Dress’, a world premiere presented by Argyle Road Productions, take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., from Oct. 28 through Nov. 19.

All tickets are $30 (reserved seating). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, (323) 960-5521 or go to


Photo Credit: Laura Liguori (Alexandra Schiele) and Dylan Wittrock (Officer Dieter Keller) – Photo by Ed Krieger                                                                        Image: Odyssey Theatre Los Angeles




FRANTZ – Movie Release in Los Angeles – March 24

FRANTZ, the latest film from renowned filmmaker Francois Ozon, will be released in Los Angeles on March 24 at the Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

CaliforniaGermans has 2 pairs of movie tickets to give away for March 24 in Los Angeles! If you would like to receive a FREE pair of movie tickets, send us an email here with your full name and mention the movie “FRANTZ”. We will choose and contact 2 lucky movie goers among the first 10 emails we receive.


A haunting tale of love and reconciliation through the eyes of the First World War’s lost generation.

Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, (1914-1918), Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation”: Anna (21 year-old Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney, Yves Saint Laurent), a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks.

What follows is a surprising exploration of how Ozon’s characters’ wrestle with their conflicting feelings – survivor’s guilt, anger at one’s losses, the overriding desire for happiness despite everything that has come before, and the longing for sexual, romantic and familial attachments.

Inspired by Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 film Broken Lullaby, FRANTZ is an elegant and dramatic love story—both between two individuals and between two nations at the core of the imperiled European Union experiment.

Early Praise for FRANTZ

“Exquisite and haunting…one of the talented director Francois Ozon’s very best films.” -Paper

“A richly imagined and superbly assembled period piece.” -The Hollywood Reporter

“Astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive. It’s impossible to deny the sheer narrative sophistication.” -Indiewire

Run time: 113 minutes, Rating: PG-13, Language: French and German with English subtitles

Credits: MusicBoxFilms


Get Prepared for Oscar Night – Exploring the Movies in L.A. Exhibitions


Its Oscar Time! – The 87th Academy Awards Ceremony is February 22, 2015

The 87th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films of 2014 and will take place February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

If you’d like to catch up on some movie history in particularly German-American related, then go see some of these great exhibitions out here in Los Angeles that for sure will get you in the right mood for the grand night. And the winner is… !

Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950

The Skirball Cultural Center co-presents with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences the exhibition Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950, which pays homage to the lives and work of émigré actors, directors, writers, and composers who fled Nazi Europe and made a lasting impact on American cinema and culture. Explore how the experiences of German-speaking exiles and émigrés such as of directors Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang, actress Marlene Dietrich and many more, influenced the classic films of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“The exhibition demonstrates how the experiences of exodus and exile affected the lives and work of émigrés in many different ways. It is a story of immigration, acculturation, and innovation that intersects with the flourishing of Hollywood as an American cultural phenomenon.” (Skirball Center)

The exhibition will close March 1st with the screening of the PBS documentary, Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood at 11am.

Parallel to the above mentioned exhibition a site specific installation by Austrian artist Isa Rosenberger can be visited. Café Vienne honors the recently rediscovered work of Austrian American Jewish writer Gina Kaus (1894–1985) and the cultural role of the Viennese coffee house.

LACMA presents Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s

This exhibition explores masterworks of German Expressionist cinema and features over 150 drawings, as well as manuscripts, posters, and set models, the majority gathered by Lotte Eisner, German emigrée film historian and author of the pioneering 1952 text The Haunted Screen.

Haunted Screens closes on April 26 and is included in the general admissions ticket.

Further reads: Expressionist Films ad the German Trauma 


Source: Skirball Cultural Center, LACMA

Photo: Wikipedia

German-American Comedy shows in Los Angeles



Trying to find your own identity is not always easy. German-American comedian Lucie Pohl takes up this challenge with her hilarious show Hi Hitler showing in Los Angeles this weekend, at the Complex Theater on December 13-14, 2014.

Lucie grew up in Germany until the age of eight before moving with her family to New York. Feeling always different and trying to make sense of her heritage in a not always welcoming world, it was hard to fit in. Many obstacles paved this never-ending path.

“Told in English and German this 60 minute storytelling blitzcomedy follows a German-Jew, who grows up in a wild family of artists, is fascinated by der Führer from age four and uprooted from Hamburg to NYC at eight. As Bertolt Brecht’s real-life niece, Lucie yearns for normalcy, but being different seems to run in her bloodline and escaping her inherited high-drama-destiny might just be impossible. A pinch of Hitler, a cup of hip hop and a dash of Hasselhoff.”

Her much acclaimed show had a sold out Edinburgh Fringe debut, a debut on London’s West End, and a sold-out OFF-Broadway preview run at 59E59 Theaters. German-American actress and comedian Lucie Pohl now brings her 5 star solo show Hi, Hitler to Los Angeles for 2 nights only.

Lucie Pohl: Hi, Hitler – At The Complex Theater Sat. & Sun. December 13-14 at 8pm.

Tickets are available here. CaliforniaGermans can buy tickets with the discount code GOETHE for $12 .


Source: The Guardian, Lucie Pohl,
Image: Lucie Pohl


The “Kiepenkasper” Uwe Spillmann is in Town! – January 11th in San Diego

Kiepenkasper: der Kaspar!

KiepenkaspEr Hand Puppet Theater at the German Pacific School in San Diego

Attention all children! Have you missed the Kiepenkasper show in January 2013? Well, here is your chance to see Uwe Spillmann in action again!  He will be visiting the German Pacific School in San Diego to give one of his performances all for you. The performance is of course open to everyone, so you can bring your parents as well.

Uwe Spillmann, a hand puppet player known around the world, will be visiting many German schools on his upcoming US tour. One stop will be here in San Diego.

Mr. Spillmann is writing his own scripts for his ‘Kiepenkasper’. Based on traditional puppet shows (‘Kasperltheater’) his performances bring a breeze of fresh air into this old tradition of puppet play. He usually performs two plays, each lasting about 20 minutes. During the break he entertains children and adults alike with tricks and exotic musical instruments.

Mark your calendar:

WHAT :   Kiepenkasper / Uwe Spillmann visits San Diego

WHEN:   January 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM

WHERE:   German Pacific School of San Diego, 4271 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92117  – For more information call : (619) 354-9991