Conversations about Theater, Music and Politics

Michael Lahr von Leïtis (Editor)
Hardcover, 12 x 8.25 inches,
English-German Edition,
174 pages / 16 full-page portrait photographs
ISBN 978-3-9816119-1-5

Price: $35

If you would like to order a copy of the book please send us an e-mail or fill out the order form and send it back to us.
Receipts from the sale of the book will benefit the educational program “Art and Education without Borders” organized and presented by Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive.

The book delves into the legacy of Piscator and his ideas of political theater. In interviews with 15 recipients of the Erwin Piscator Award and with Gregorij von Leïtis, founder and president of the Erwin Piscator Award Society, Michael Lahr von Leïtis explores the relevance of political and social topics on stage, as well as the relationship between art and politics. Together, the answers of the various artists form a unique document of contemporary history:

  • The Academy-Award-winning actress Lee Grant talks about the repression she experienced from the anti-communist witch hunt of McCarthy (“Fighting the Blacklisters“)
  • Judith Malina reflects about her studies at Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop and how she implemented Piscator’s teachings into the Living Theatre, which she founded with Julian Beck (“Total Theater and Commitment”)
  • The stage director, painter, video artist and light designer Robert Wilson stresses he freedom to think which the theater and the arts offer (“A Genuine Dialogue with the Public”)
  • William Hoffman defines his approach as a playwright as the collecting and correcting of historical injustice (“History as it should have been”)
  • Stage director Marshall Mason provides an insightful overview of the AIDS crisis and discusses how the theater helped to create a social awareness for this issue (“Expanded Thinking”)
  • Ellen Burstyn, Academy-Award-winning actress and dedicated campaigner for the Democratic Party, underlines the necessity to find compromises in politics (“Acting is the Study of Human Nature“)
  • Kurt Masur, Music Director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, talks about “The Power of Music“ and his involvement in the peaceful revolution in the former GDR
  • Martina Arroyo, part of the first generation of African-American singers at the MET, remembers how her job as a social worker in Harlem deeply informed her later work on the opera stage (“Being True to Your Art”)
  • Baritone Thomas Hampson delivers a powerful plea for ‘Bildung’ and education (“Connecting the Dots”)
  • André Bishop elaborates about his role as a producer at two of the most important non-commercial theaters in New York (“The Theater was My Refuge”)
  • Harold Prince, producer and director of hits such as Evita and Cabaret, claims: “Political Theater is having a Resurgence”
  • For John Guare, author of plays such as Six Degrees of Separation, “The Miracle in Theater is Transformation”
  • Bartlett Sher, internationally acclaimed theater and opera director, confesses: “I am a Theatrical Buddhist”
  • James Nicola, Artistic Director of the New York Theatre Workshop, says that the task of the theater is to be “A Place for Nurturing and Healing”
  • J.T. Rogers characterized as ”The Foreign Policy Playwright,” puts the huge political conflicts of our times on stage
  • Gregorij von Leïtis is convinced that theater can help us in “Aligning our Moral Compass”

The New York-based French photographer Letizia Mariotti did impressive portraits of all the interviewees.
In her introduction, Prof. Dr. Erika Fischer-Lichte, internationally acclaimed theater historian, places Piscator’s work in a tradition that started with Friedrich Schiller was further developed by Richard Wagner and continues to this day.

Michael Lahr von Leïtis (Editor)

Hardcover-book, 12 x 8 ½ inches
English-German Edition
192 pages / 231 photos
ISBN 978-3-9816119-0-8

Price: USD 25.00

If you would like to order a copy of the book, please send us an e-mail.
The proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Elysium’s and The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive’s program “Art and Education without Borders”.

Erwin Piscator (1893 – 1966), founder of the political theater, was convinced that “art only achieves its purpose if it contributes to the improvement of man.”
This principle has been guiding Elysium and The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive in its artistic and educational work.
And at the same time, this motto has been the discerning rule to determine who would be eligible to receive the Piscator Award since its founding in 1985.

The book The Erwin Piscator Award is a tribute to the many iconic artists and outstanding patrons of the arts, who have been awarded with the Piscator Award and the Honorary Piscator Award:

  • The honorees are featured with full-page portraits and biographies.
  • There are various messages of greeting by heads of state (among them US-President Bill Clinton and the President of the German Federal Republic Johannes Rau) as well as other important politicians.
  • The reader will also find excerpts of remarks praising the merits and contributions of the honorees, as well as acceptance speeches by the honorees themselves.

You’ll also read about Piscator in the book:

  • Judith Malina on what she learned from the famous German theater innovator.
  • Tony Randall remembering his first theater production The Circle of Chalk that was produced under Piscator’s auspices at the Dramatic Workshop.
  • Louise Kerz Hirschfeld reminiscing about Piscator’s ground-breaking world-premiere production of Rolf Hochhuth’s The Deputy and the Salon which Maria Ley Piscator continued after Piscator’s death.
  • Gregorij von Leïtis describes his meeting with Maria Ley Piscator that led to the founding of the Piscator Award.
  • Michael Lahr von Leïtis introduces the man and the artist Erwin Piscator and his ongoing legacy.
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