Project »BECKETT IN TOWN « autumn 2006, Hamburg Deutsch

Patronage: Senator for Cultural Affairs Prof. Dr. Karin v. Welck


> Team
> Ex ante
> Retrospect 1
> Retrospect 2

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Team Prof. Dr. Theresia Birkenhauer
Expert in theatre studies, dramaturg, Berlin, + Oktober 2006

Dr. Michaela Giesing
Hamburg Theatre Collection, Hamburg University

Dr. Marlene Grau
Public relations department of Hamburg State and University Library

Dr. Gaby Hartel
Independent literary specialist and journalist, Berlin

Dr. Barbara Müller Wesemann
University Hamburg

Roswitha Quadflieg
Writer and book artist, Berlin

Dr. Carola Veit
Independent literary specialist, Berlin

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Ex ante The year 2006 entailed the 100th birthday of the Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner. Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989). Congresses, exhibitions and theatre performances are taking place all over the world on occasion of this anniversary. In Hamburg, a team has elaborated the project »Beckett in Town«. The posthumous discovery of his »German Diaries 1936/37« brought to light that Beckett had a fairly substantial connection with Hamburg, and as a young man on educational travels, he observed the cityís cultural and political goings on from early October to early December 1936.
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Retrospect 1 In autumn 2003, Roswitha Quadflieg published the first and once only edition to date of the Hamburg chapter of Beckettís »German Diaries« under the title »Alles kommt auf so viel an« in the Raamin-Presse, Hamburg.
One year previously, she had succeeded in acquiring the rights for this publication from Beckettís heirs. She supplemented the text with a selection of her own original graphics and published it in a 150-piece edition, as the 28th print in the 30th year of her press, transcribed by and with an epilogue by Erika Tophoven. In the margin she added explanatory notes on persons, places and events that Beckett had mentioned in his diary. The edition was given much attention even beyond German borders, and there were notably many reactions in press, radio and television (press review ).

From November 2003 to January 2004 there was a corresponding exhibition in the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg under the title »Beckett in Hamburg – 1936«.
More than 300 exhibits were on display, which Roswitha Quadflieg collected throughout her »Recherche vor Ort (research on location)« with support from Harald Butz. These included two previously unknown letters written by Beckett to the Hamburg bookseller Günter Albrecht, in which the author takes up position on art philosophical issues. In addition, around twenty original paintings were shown by seven painters belonging to the former »Hamburg Secession«, whom Beckett had called on in their studios.

The Hamburger Kunsthalle – Beckett entered it eleven times – organized a »Beckett–Day« during the time of this exhibition, this occasion also saw the publication of Matthias Mühlingís »Mit Samuel Beckett in der Hamburger Kunsthalle«.

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Retrospect 2

The events planned for autumn 2006 aim to make a topic both out of Beckettís perception of the city, as well as vice versa, Beckettís reception by the city. The »Beckett in Town« project encompasses two exhibitions, one symposium with a corresponding publication and further accompanying complementary events. The project is also interlinked with several other Beckett-events in Hamburg.

In pursuing the idea of examining the early twentieth century major city as a source of inspiration to Beckett, we are devoting ourselves to the overwhelming diversity of Beckettís artistic interests: theatre, museum, cinema, music hall, radio, architecture, etc. All his life, the author was an »eminent pedestrian« (Leslie Stephens), who did not only walk for hours through the town or the countryside (a popular pastime in artist circles), but who rather delved into the dense tangles of urban culture as the »Eye of Prey« (Beckett).

By turning our attention to Beckett as a passionately beholding and experiencing pedestrian, we would like to examine the process of artistic invention on the one hand, but on the other we also aim to increase our consciousness of Beckett as a critical observer of his time. Possibly this presentation of an immensely diverse and open-minded contemporary who was interested in everyday culture will refute the cliché that is still so popular today, of an ascetic Beckett who lived utterly detached from the world.

In his diary, he recorded all of his visits to the Hamburger Kunsthalle and he commented on the increasingly restrictive national-socialist culture politics in artistic circles, as experienced by the »Hamburg Secession« group, which was already forbidden in 1936. It was thanks to private contacts that he gained access to the closed-off sections of the Kunsthalle and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. He was further confronted with national-socialist ideology in everyday life, on his walking tours through the city, in the boarding house, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper and while drinking his evening beer.

These experiences were to be examined from a variety of perspectives in the »Beckett in Town« project.

www.beckett-in-hamburg-1936.de (online exhibition)

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Vergangenheit  Raamin Presse