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Heiner Müller’s Discovery of America

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Dec 19, 2016
Dec 19, 2016
Segal Theatre
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Heiner Müller in Texas, circa 1975, courtesy of Jack Zipes. Text fragment: “Lautréamont Liberation of the Dead? Sohn der Toten [Son of the Dead].” Note from Heiner Müller from “Gundling’s Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing’s Sleep Dream Scream,” 1976.

Monday, December 19
Segal Theatre
All day Symposium 10:00am | 3:00pm |6:30pm

FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.

Playwright, poet, and author, Heiner Müller (Jan. 9, 1929 – Dec. 30, 1995) is considered the most significant German dramatist of the 20th century after Bertolt Brecht. Müller’s Hamletmachine represents an iconic and enigmatic text in post-dramatic theatre that has been highly influential on a
global scale for writers, directors, and dramaturgs. During the 1970s, Müller received permission to temporarily leave East Germany to visit America. Müller’s journeys in the U.S. included cross‑country trips and visits to Austin, Milwaukee, Madison, San Francisco, and New York City; a second journey brought him also to Mexico and Puerto Rico — altogether an experience that ultimately changed the aesthetics of his work.

The Segal Center’s all-day symposium will trace Müller’s artistic and political thinking and artistic practice during his American journeys, where he witnessed the decline of Socialism at home and the rise of Neo‑Capitalism in the U.S.. International theatre artists, scholars, friends, and former students
will revisit the dramatist’s journey through America with screenings, documentary materials, excerpted readings of selected works, short lectures, and panel discussions.

Screenings will include rehearsals of Heiner Müller’s play Mauser in Austin, Texas and Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1975; Heiner Müller’s readings of parts of Life of Gundling Lessing’s Sleep Dream Cry, as well as Hamletmachine, and video excerpts of The man in the Elevator – part of  Heiner Müller’s play The Mission – directed by Heiner Goebbels, partly spoken by Heiner Müller.

Participants: Terry GallowayFrank Hentschker, Andreas Huyssen, Jonathan Kalb, Bonnie Marranca, Klaudia Ruschkowski, Wolfgang Storch.

Findings from the Segal Center Heiner Müller in America Symposium will be presented in a follow-up event in Berlin, followed by a book publication. Curated by Wolfgang Storch and Klaudia Ruschkowski, in collaboration with Frank Hentschker.

PAJ Publications is Heiner Müller’s American publisher.

The event is dedicated to Betty Nance Weber, who first invited Heiner Müller to the US as a Writer-in-Residence to the University of Austin, Texas, in 1975.



MORNING PROGRAM (10:00am – 1:00pm)
Heiner Müller in America
Screening: Mauser and A Weekend at the Beach


by Frank HentschkerKlaudia Ruschkowski, and Wolfgang Storch

by Klaudia Ruschkowski & Wolfgang Storch

VIDEO: Heiner Müller in America
Excerpt from the film, I don’t want to know who I am (Directed by Christoph Rüter, 2009)


By Wolfgang Storch Klaudia Ruschkowski

VIDEO: Mauser (Austin, Texas; Directed by Fred Behringer, 1975)
Talk by Terry Galloway


A Weekend at the Beach with Jean-Luc Godard (Directed by Ira Schneider, 1979; 9’59’’)
Heiner Müller with Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Winders and Jean-Pierre Gorin at San Diego.Additioanl black and white photos by Wim Wenders.



AFTERNOON PROGRAM (3:00pm – 5:15pm)
Heiner Müller in America: Conferences, Screenings, and Concerts

VIDEO: Money/Politics – Image/Word
(Heiner Müller speaking during the PEN congress, New York, 1983)


Part 1 (3:00pm – 3:40pm)
History in Contemporary Drama (Wisconsin Workshop, 1975)

by Klaudia Ruschkowski and Wolfgang Storch
History in Contemporary Drama (Wisconsin Workshop, 1975)

READING of translated excerpts
from conference conversation by The AssemblyAbout History, Drama, Learning-Plays, Brecht and Artaud


Part 2 (3:40pm – 4:20pm)
Reflections on Post-Modernism
(93rd Annual Convention of Modern Language Association, 1978, New York)

INTRODUCTION by Andreas Huyssen (Columbia University)

READING of Reflections on Post-Modernism by Heiner Müller with The Assembly 



Part 3 (4:20pm – 4:30pm)
Heiner Müller’s Fatzer + – Keuner
(5th Brecht Congress, 28-31 March 1979, University of Maryland, College Park)

READING of excerpts
From Fatzer + – Keuner by Frank Hentschker


Part 4 (4:30pm – 5:15pm)

VIDEO-Interview: I have to learn to breathe the air of democracy Heiner Müller in New York, November 1989.

READING: Remarks from Heiner Müller about the inspiration for The Man in the Elevator.

VIDEO The Man in the Elevator (Frankfurt, 1987 and New York, 1989) Excerpts of the staged concerts, with words by Heiner Müller,composed and directed by Heiner Goebbels. Special cut by Heiner Goebbels for Heiner Müller’s Discovery of America Symposium.


EVENING PROGRAM (6:30pm – 9:30pm)


by Frank HentschkerKlaudia Ruschkowski, and Wolfgang Storch

by Klaudia Ruschkowski & Wolfgang Storch

Part 1 (6:45pm – 7:30pm)
Mauser (Milwaukee, November 1975; Austin, December, 1975)

Andreas Huyssen on Mauser

Terry Galloway, Powerpoint PresentationMauser in Austin

Jonathan Kalb on his adaptation of MauserGulliver’s Choice, New York, 2003

Part 2 (7:30pm – 8:30pm)
Gundling`s Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing`s Sleep Dream Scream
The Hamletmachine (both written after US visit 1975/76)

FILM: A Weekend at the Beach with Jean-Luc Godard (Directed by Ira Schneider, 1979; 1’59’’)
Heiner Müller with Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Winders and Jean-Pierre Gorin at San Diego.
Memories of Wim Wenders. Additioanl black and white photos by Wim Wenders.

Klaudia Ruschkowski and Wolfgang Storch on Gundling`s Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing`s Sleep Dream Scream (1976; Projection of manuscripts)

Excerpt: Heiner Müller reads in German in Austin, 1978: Leben Gundlings, (Film by Ginka Tscholakowa)

READING of Lessing’s Sleep Dream Scream by The Assembly 

Frank Hentschker on Hamletmachine and short reading

Excerpt: Heiner Müller and actress in Bar in Austin,1978. Reading of Hamletmaschine (Part II and V)
(Film by Ginka Tscholakowa)

Part 3 (8:30pm – 8:45pm)
Publishing Heiner Müller in the U.S. 

Bonnie Marranca on Introducing Heiner Müller to the America

Part 4 (8:45pm – 9:15pm)
The Mission. Memory of a Revolution (written after US visit 1978) 

Jonathan Kalb on The Mission. Memory of a Revolution

READING of last scene of Heiner Müller‘s The Mission. Memory of a Revolution by The Assmebly

9.15pm – 9:30pm





Wolfgang Storch was born in 1943 in Berlin. He studied dramatics, art history and German philology and works as an author, translator, dramaturge, and curator. He was engaged at several German theatres, a.o. Schaubühne and Schillertheater Berlin, Schauspiel Frankfurt, and held professor- and lectureships at Freie Universität Berlin, at Hochschule der Künste Berlin, at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, at the University of Frankfurt a. M. and at the Bavarian Theatre Academy. Since 1975, he writes essays and realizes books, scenic works, shows, workshops and symposiums on Heiner Müller. From 1997 to 2013 he was a board member of the International Heiner Müller Society. He published writings and curated numerous art exhibitions and programs on the relationship of the arts, on Italy and the Mediterranean, on the Greek Myths, on “Prussia and the poets”, on Richard Wagner, Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, Luchino Visconti and Jannis Kounellis.


Klaudia Ruschkowski was born in 1959 in Dortmund. She studied German language, literature and arts and works as an author, translator, dramaturge, and curator. After engagements at several theatres in West and East Germany, she co-founded in 1991 the European Cultural Center in Thuringia, was one of the directors until 1997 and member of the publishing committee of Via Regia, international journal for cultural communication. From 1999 to 2010 she conceived workshops for the International Heiner Müller Society, in collaboration with Wolfgang Storch, and co-edited a series of volumes about Heiner Müller’s plays. She is known as a literature translator from Italian and English, collaborating since 1997 with the poet and painter Etel Adnan. She is the author of radio plays for Deutschlandradio Berlin, a.o. on Pier Paolo Pasolini and the painter Giuseppe Zigaina, on Mary de Rachewiltz and her father Ezra Pound.

Frank Hentschker who holds a Ph.D. in theatre from the now legendary Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany, came to the Graduate Center in 2001 as program director for the Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and was appointed to the central doctoral faculty in theatre in 2009. Among the vital events and series he founded at the Segal Center are the World Theatre Performance series, the annual fall PRELUDE Festival, and the PEN World Voices Playwrights Series. Before coming to The Graduate Center, Hentschker founded and directed DISCURS, the largest European student theater festival existing today; he acted as Hamlet in Heiner Müller’s Hamletmaschine, directed by the playwright, performed in the Robert Wilson play The Forest (music by David Byrne) and worked as an assistant for Robert Wilson for many years. Frank currently teaches Theatre History at Columbia University.

Terry Galloway is a writer, director and performer for stage, radio, video and film. She started her long, eclectic career in theatre arts in 1968 after the University of Texas at Austin’s Drama Department denied her admittance to its acting program. Before her cochlear implant in 2010, Galloway was a deaf lip reader with a lateral lisp. In 1969 she became affiliated with UT’s Shakespeare at Winedale Summer Theater Festival, first as a student, then from 1973-1976 as a Research Associate/Assistant Director, making a reputation for herself as a cross-dressing performer of comic male roles in Shakespeare. Her most recent solo show, You Are My Sunshine, a work-in‑progress about her new post-cochlear life in the world of sound, premiered at Cornell University’s Resoundingly Queer Conference in April 2012. Grants from Florida State University and DaDa Fest in Liverpool England, made it possible for Galloway to assemble an international cast of disabled actresses for a staged reading of her new ensemble musical-in-progress, The Ugly Girl, A Musical Tragedy in Burlesque presented at the Bluecoat, August 24, 2012 to great success.

Andreas Huyssen is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he served as founding director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society (1998-2003). He chaired the Department of Germanic Languages from 1986-1992 and again from 2005-2008. In 2005, he won Columbia’s coveted Mark van Doren teaching award. His research and teaching focus on 18th-20th-century German literature and culture, international modernism, Frankfurt School critical theory, postmodernism, cultural memory of historical trauma in transnational contexts, and, most recently, urban culture and globalization. He currently continues work on two projects: a study of modernist miniatures, an experimental form of modernist writing, widespread in French and German modernism from Baudelaire to Rilke, Benn, Kafka, Kracauer, Jünger, Musil, Benjamin, and Adorno. And a consideration of the overlaps and tensions between the contemporary discourses of memory and human rights.

Jonathan Kalb has taught at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center since the early 1990s. He served for six years as Chair of Hunter’s Theatre Department, is the founding editor of HotReview.org, The Hunter On-Line Theater Review, and is currently Literary Advisor at Theatre for a New Audience. Kalb has twice received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, awarded in 1991 for his book Beckett in Performance (Cambridge University Press) and his articles and reviews in The Village Voice and in 2012 for his book Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater (University of Michigan Press). Great Lengths also won the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association. Kalb is also the author of The Theater of Heiner Müller (Cambridge University Press, 1998). Two book collections of Kalb’s critical writing have been published: Free Admissions: Collected Theater Writings (Limelight Editions, 1993) and Play By Play: Theater Essays and Reviews, 1993-2002 (Limelight Editions, 2003).

Bonnie Marranca is publisher and editor of the Obie Award-winning PAJ Publications and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art which she co-founded in 1976. She has written three collections of criticism: Performance Histories, Ecologies of Theatre, and Theatrewritings, the recipient of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Among the many anthologies she has edited are: New Europe: plays from the continent, Plays for the End of the Century; American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard; and The Theatre of Images, one of the seminal books of contemporary theatre. Her writings have been translated into seventeen languages. Marranca is a Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Senior Scholar who has taught in many universities here and abroad, including Columbia University, Princeton University, NYU, Duke University, the University of California-San Diego, Free University (Berlin), Autonomous University/Institute for Theatre (Barcelona), and University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). She is Professor of Theatre at The New School/Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts.

The Assembly is a multi-disciplinary collective of six theater artists committed to realizing a visceral and intelligent theater for a new generation. The Assembly has created seven original works, including Home/Sick (2011, New York Times & Backstage Critics’ Pick), for which the Times dubbed the company “a cutting-edge young theater collective.” The company has performed at venues across New York such as The Incubator, The Prelude Festival, HERE Arts Center, and The Collapsable Hole and has toured to the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, Wesleyan University, the Edinburgh Fringe (Fringe First nomination) and the Philly Fringe. Following development at IRT and NACL, The Assembly premiered its latest original work, I Will Look Forward to This Later, in April 2016 at the New Ohio as part of the Archive Residency. A feature essay about the company was published as the cover story of The Drama Review in fall 2016. www.assemblytheater.org

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