Mein Kampf

Must you forever be playing and jesting?
You must, oh my friends, which sickens my soul
For only the desperate must.

Friedrich Hölderlin

Hitler (Glenn van Oosterom) and Shlomo (Steve Gome)

Hitler (Glenn van Oosterom) and Shlomo (Steve Gome)
Photograph by Lachlan Woods

Winter. Vienna 19 ~ (Frau) Death stalks the streets. A young Hitler arrives from Braunau seeking fame and fortune as an artist. Meanwhile in a flophouse on Blood Street, Shlomo Herzl, a Jew, struggles with his magnum opus, Mein Kampf. Chaos ensues.

La Mama and fortyfivedownstairs proudly present a return season of George Tabori’s acclaimed farce, a dizzying and demented play that blends multiple comic genres and humour both high and low.

Fortyfivedownstairs
2 to 13 July 2014

Creative Team

writer – George Tabori
director – Beng Oh
set design – Peter Mumford
lighting design – Stelios Karagiannis
sound design – Natasha Moszenin
costume design – Amaya Vecellio
illustration – Tom Miatke
graphic design – Connor Byrt
photographs – Sarah Walker, Lachlan Woods

2014 Cast

(in order of appearance)
Shlomo Herzl – Steve Gome
Lobkowitz – David Kambouris
Hitler – Glenn van Oosterom
Gretchen – Stephania Pountney
Frau Death – Sarah Bollenberg
Leopold/Himmlisch – Troy Larkin

2013 Cast

(in order of appearance)
Shlomo Herzl – Mark Wilson
Lobkowitz – Mark Bonanno
Hitler – Glenn van Oosterom
Gretchen – Stephania Pountney
Frau Death – Uschi Felix
Leopold/Himmlisch – Samuel Macdonald

Director's Note

In 1986-87, when George Tabori was in his 70s, he wrote and directed Mein Kampf for the prestigious Burgtheater in Vienna. It was a turbulent time in Austria. There was a resurgence of the far right in the form of the Freedom Party led by Jörg Haider and an ex-Nazi, Kurt Waldheim, had just been elected president. These events would have no doubt been troubling to Tabori, who had lost the majority of his own family in the Holocaust.

It is in this climate that Tabori chose to confront and wrestle with all the major issues in his life – God, love, lust, guilt, mortality, his Jewishness and most of all, Hitler, the man who, “changed my life, poisoned my dreams”. The resulting play is part history, part biography and a complete fabrication. It is an honest account from a confirmed liar who stated, “the dialectics of lies and truth are at the core of matters”. Mein Kampf  was a sensation when it premiered, with seven productions in its first season and in short order over 40 productions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In many ways Mein Kampf is a portrait of Tabori himself. It is replete with biographical detail, its language is dazzling and it marries low comedy and a subversive sense of humour  with a dizzying range of references reflective of Tabori’s own erudition. It is also alive with Tabori’s very real and personal struggles and is aptly named.

George Tabori

Hungarian-born George Tabori (György Tábori) (1914-2007), whose life and work spanned almost the entire 20th century, was a truly international citizen:  multi-lingual, multi-talented, courageous and irreverent. He was a tower in European theatre and by 1992, the year he won the prestigious Georg-Bűchner-Preis, Tabori was the most widely performed modern writer in the German theatre. Prior to returning to Germany at age 58 he lived in London, New York and Hollywood. In America he met Brecht and Thomas Mann, wrote Broadway plays and screen plays, including I Confess for Hitchcock, and established links with the Actors Studio. His plays include Brecht on Brecht, The Cannibals, My Mother’s Courage and The Goldberg Variations.