Lunchtime lecture brings to life the works of acclaimed artist

By Costa Maragos Posted: September 19, 2017 5:30 p.m.

Dr. Hans-Christian Stillmark is a visiting scholar from Potsdam University in Germany.
Dr. Hans-Christian Stillmark is a visiting scholar from Potsdam University in Germany. Photo courtesy of Potsdam University

The works of an artist, once the toast of Broadway, will be brought back to life at a noon hour lecture September 20 at the Shu Box Theatre.

Peter Weiss was an acclaimed German playwright, novelist, and filmmaker, and is best known for his play MARAT / SADE, which won the Tony Award for best play in 1966.

The play was later made into a film. But there is so much more to Weiss’ works.

Enter Dr. Hans-Christian Stillmark, a visiting scholar from Potsdam University in Germany, and perhaps the world’s leading authority on all things Weiss, who was born near Potsdam.

In 2016 Stillmark organized what would have been the 100th birthday of Peter Weiss, who died in 1982. 

Stillmark produced a festival of Weiss’ works with support from the City of Potsdam and Potsdam Museum.

“Dr. Stillmark is a gracious and entertaining speaker, and if you have any interest in the arts you will be interested to hear about Peter Weiss,” says Kathryn Bracht, Associate Professor in the Theatre Department.

By the mid-1930s, the Weiss family was forced into exile by Nazi persecution. His 1965 documentary The Investigation, which focussed on the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, attracted international attention. Weiss’ work resonates to this day. His three-volume novel, The Aesthetic of Resistance, dramatizes the anti-fascist resistance leading up to the Second World War - echoes of today’s controversial Antifa movement.

The U of R lecture is organized by UR International, the Faculty of Media, Arts, and Performance, and the Theatre Department.

Stillmark’s visit has opened the possibility for U of R students to study in Potsdam in 2018.

“I am really excited about this possibility and the students are excited,” says Bracht. “Dr. Stillmark has met some of our students and he was very impressed with our theatre. The hope is we begin fundraising soon so students can travel to Germany for the fall of 2018. This would be open to any students on campus.”

Such a trip would include student involvement in the acclaimed Unidram Festival in Potsdam of which Stillmark is one of the founders. Now in its 24th year, the juried festival brings artists from Western and Eastern Europe exploring new and innovative forms of theatre.

“This festival has yet to accept submissions from North America. But thanks to our collaboration with Dr. Stillmark, we hope this too will open opportunities for our students to present their work to this festival someday,” says Bracht. The public lecture on Peter Weiss is at the Shu-Box Theatre at the Riddell Centre. It’s free and open to the public.