NEAT – New English American Theatre has presented 72 different projects in the monthly DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN series since October 2013!
The original concept of the DARK MONDAY series was to perform classic literary texts combined with virtuously executed, atmospheric and appropriate music. In the course of 6 years, we have expanded the concept to include various other forms of entertainment, such as live reenactments of Radio Plays, Concert Tributes to composers such as George Gerswhin, Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, European Premiere Readings of contemporary plays, and evenings of Prose & Poetry featuring locally residing English language authors.
The list of authors, composers and pop icons dealt with in the last seventy two months include Dracula, Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Marlene Dietrich, John F. Kennedy / Lee Harvey Oswald, Albert Einstein, George Gershwin, Dylan Thomas, Cole Porter, P.G.Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Arthur Miller, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Rod McKuen, The Lone Ranger, Stephen King, The Wizard of Oz, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Firesign Theatre, Rudyard Kipling, Don Marquis, Tom Stoppard, Vagina Monologues, Edgar Lee Masters, Marsha Norman, Michael Frayn, Alfred Hitchcock, Yasmina Reza, among many others.
The author most often represented in the DARK MONDAY series has been Mark Twain whose texts have proven to be extremely popular with our audience at MERLIN; SHOCKHEADED PETER, THE DIARIES OF ADAM & EVE, LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, MARK TWAIN IN HEIDELBERG, LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, THE AWFUL GERMAN LANGUAGE.
To commemorate the SIXTH Anniversary of the DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN series on Monday, October 7, we will revive one of our earliest and most beloved shows – THE AWFUL GERMAN LANGUAGE by Mark Twain – with a New Cast and Live Music!
THE AWFUL GERMAN LANGUAGE by Mark Twain
Featuring – Bridget K. Hennesy, Sophie Michaud, Helen Khorrami, Derrick Jenkins, Joerg Witzsch, Florian Eisentraut
“I can understand German as well as the maniac that invented it, but I talk it best through an interpreter.“
Mark Twain was America’s foremost satirical essayists and author of extremely popular travel books.
At the time that they were published, the travel books INNOCENTS ABROAD, FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, ROUGHING IT and A TRAMP ABROAD were far more popular than his novels and short stories, for which he is remember today.
Mark Twain interpreted the foreign cultures that he encountered on his travels around the world through the eyes of an average American. He, of course, poked fun at the exotic experience but also at himself.
Mark Twain had an abiding fascination with Germany and spent over a year in the country with his entire family. Based in Heidelberg and Berlin, he undertook excursions to all parts of Germany as well as Switzerland and Austria.
Before leaving for Europe, Twain hired German nannies for his children, who gave them instruction in the language and conversed with them, so that they could practice their skills. Twain actually wanted the children to read German books before English books – his reason being that they would learn English no matter what, and it would be easier for them to learn other languages while they were young.
With this daily exposure to the German language, at his Connecticut home and while living and traveling in German speaking countries, it can be conjectured that Mark Twain had quite a fair comprehension of the language. Eyewitnesses of the period report that the entire family spoke fluent German.
Yet, he writes of his German skills: “I am complimented a good deal on my German, in Berlin. On one occasion I emptied out a sentence of 47 words and it had only 63 grammatical errors in it.”
On another occasion, he reprimands himself, saying “You have been a fool. If you had put in as many years improving your spiritual nature, as you have put in on the German language, you could have been in heaven by this time.”
In reality, Twain was so versed in the German language that he actually translated the popular mid-1900 century German children’s book, STRUWELPETER into English; as a Christmas present for his daughters.
But, for the sake of his audience, the humorist prevailed and in 1880, Mark Twain described his futile attempt to learn the German language with its incomparable grammar and other peculiarities, in an essay poignantly entitled THE AWFUL GERMAN LANGUAGE.
Performance – Monday, October 7 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN