This learning community combines the performance of Broadway musicals with the study of political theater, culminating in both a production of Kurt Weill’s Broadway show Love Life (1948) and a conference about topics related to his life and work. This community is open to college and conservatory students.

 

three faculty in meeting room
Broadway via Berlin cluster instructors are Jamie O’Leary, Jonathon Field, and Annemarie Sammartino. Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Broadway via Berlin: The Political Musical Theater of Kurt Weill

Offered spring 2018
Open to college and conservatory students

Each student in the Broadway via Berlin learning community will enroll as a performer, scholar, musician, designer, or dramaturg to help assemble Love Life, a musical written in both Broadway and Brechtian styles. This combination may sound strange; although the musical was popular when it opened, it has rarely been performed and remains something of a curiosity, even for Weill enthusiasts.

Alongside the production, students will enroll in academic courses to study Weill and his musical and historical contexts. His circle included some of the most significant thinkers of the 20th century: Bertolt Brecht, Franz Werfel, Langston Hughes, Theodor Adorno, Arnold Schonberg, and Hans Eisler. The goal will be to explore the way that performance and scholarship can inform one another.

In addition to the production, the learning community will host an academic conference, featuring the work of students enrolled in the learning community.

Admission by audition (for performers and musicians) or interview (for designers, scholars, and dramaturges) only. Accepted students must attend all classes and necessary rehearsals. Priority for admission will be given to students who sign up for all three courses in the learning community.

All three courses are required for enrollment in the learning community.


Instructors

Faculty in this learning community are Professor of Musicology Jamie O’Leary, Associate Professor of Opera Theater Jonathan Field, and Associate Professor of History Annemarie Sammartino.

An information session will be scheduled in September. Auditions likely to take place in December. Further questions? Send e-mail to joleary@oberlin.edu, asammart@oberlin.edu or jfield@oberlin.edu.

The German Émigrés: Politics, Culture and Exile

Annemarie Sammartino, instructor

HIST 200 The German Émigrés: Politics, Culture and Exile
Meets Mondays, 7-9 pm, 4 credit hours; enrollment limit 30.

Required course for the Broadway via Berlin: The Political Musical Theater of Kurt Weill learning community. Admission by interview only.

When they rose to power in 1933, the Nazis targeted Jews and left-leaning people of all ethnic backgrounds for persecution, leading to an unprecedented exodus of refugees. Our class will look at the work of these émigrés, including the music and theater of Kurt Weill, the architecture of Mies van der Rohe, the movies of Billy Wilder, and the political thought of Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. We will interrogate how the experience of exile shaped their work, and how the work of these refugees affected culture in America and beyond.

Musical Theater and Opera from Berlin to Broadway

Jamie O’Leary, instructor

MHST 238 / APST XXX: Musical Theater and Opera from Berlin to Broadway
Meets Thursdays 11 am - 12:15 pm, 4 credit hours; enrollment limit 30.

Required course for Broadway via Berlin: The Political Musical Theater of Kurt Weill learning community. Admission by audition only.

This course will explore the connections between opera in Germany and Broadway musical theater during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Our investigations will focus on Kurt Weill and his political musical theater, and will branch out to include such topics as Bertolt Brecht, Franz Werfel, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Marc Blitzstein, and Leonard Bernstein. Combining scholarship and performance, this class will culminate in a production of Weill’s musical Love Life.

Avant-Garde Theater and Performance

Jonathon Field, instructor

OPTH/THEA/DANC Avant-Garde Theater and Performance
Meets TBA, enrollment limit 30.

Required course for Broadway via Berlin: The Political Musical Theater of Kurt Weill learning community. Admission by audition only.

This course will focus on avant-garde acting and performance techniques, specifically those of the Epic Theater of Bertolt Brecht, to explore the ways in which more traditional acting technique can be applied to experimental texts. The class will culminate in the performance of Kurt Weill’s musical Love Life.