Lighthouse Berlin (German Weimar Cabaret)

The Chooky Dancers. photo by SYC Studios

Annie poster-title text only (2)

                                                                   

                            The Songs and stories of Agnes Bernelle and the lost poets of Weimar 

Lighthouse Berlin is Annie Lee’s moving tribute to the extraordinary life of cabaret legend and friend Agnes Bernelle (1923-1999). This cabaret show features the lyrics of the 1920s/30s Weimar poets of Berlin, namely Joachim Ringelnatz and Klabund, and tells the story of Agnes, the daughter of a Jewish/Hungarian librettist and Berlin Theatre owner, who as young girl, sat at the kitchen table and recited poetry with Ringlenatz, Kurt Tucholsky, Frank Wedekind’s widow, Aunt Tilly, Bertolt Brecht and other Kabarettists of Berlin in the 1930s. When the war came, Agnes and her father fled as refugees to England where Agnes became a World War Two Black Propaganda Spy and ended up a film actress and West End cabaret star.  In 1995, actress/singer Annie Lee (The Kransky Sisters/Women in Voice) met Agnes Bernelle who was in her early seventies at the time.  Their friendship remained strong until Agnes died in 1999, with Agnes expressing the desire that Annie keep her songs alive.  Lighthouse Berlin is an homage to those poets of the Weimar time, whose colourful, sardonic and intriguing work she has translated and set to music. Agnes was possibly the last living link to this period.  Annie is joined onstage by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, Salliana Campbell on piano and Nykelharpa.

REVIEWS

“In this beautifully fond and personal tribute to one of the last direct links to Weimar Germany… Lee recounts the details of Bernelle’s extraordinary life. Lee is a truly enchanting and generous storyteller who did away with much of the superficial pretence that permeates so much of the cabaret form and instead opted for a far more casual mode of delivery. This refreshingly honest and grounded style of storytelling evokes the sense that we may just was well be sharing these stories over a cup of tea in Lee’s own living room, and echoes the tradition of intimate aural sharing that provided the foundation for the cabarets of the Weimar era.”    Jack Beeby  Aussietheatre.com  15th/July/15

“Under the direction of Michael Forde, the story of Bernelle’s diverse life, interspersed with her songs and Lee’s reminiscences of their life-affirming friendship, makes Lighthouse Berlin an utterly authentic cabaret experience. Those only familiar with Lee’s character Mourne, will see that Lee is capable of a much wider range of emotions, from vein-popping musical fulminations to the solitary burden of conflicted loyalties Bernelle experienced upon her return to Berlin twenty years after the war.…As for the stories wrapped in music, here’s meat for the intellect that requires more chewing than some shows this festival…It is not often that I could see a show again, but with so much unfamiliar, I would welcome a repeat viewing to help me retain the textures of the experience.” Jason Whyte  Artsreview.com.au  July 21/2015 

 “… superb presentation… evoking those smoky jazz cellars of the 1930s where clandestine performances thrilled and titillated audiences hungry for subversive underground protest against the totalitarian regime that was taking over the country.  Artists of the quality of Annie Lee are rare.”  Alison Coates   17th Feb 2014

   “…a dark, shimmering, wide-eyed homage to the music, poetry, and aesthetic of the Weimar Republic, as well as to Agnes Bernelle herself. Lee’s love of Bernelle lights up the Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre, here transformed into a cabaret den… The audience’s standing ovation tonight saluted Bernelle as a symbol of art’s significance and worth…”  Zenobia Frost  Off Street Press  July 21st 2012

“Annie Lee joined by the equally talented musicians… make a fantastic team… This kind of talent and historical importance deserved a longer season, and the lucky audiences who managed to see the show got far more than their money’s worth, because they were introduced to a part of theatre history that is little known in this country.  It’s a wonderful performance…  a sure-fire winner at any major music festival”. Alison Cotes  Curtain Call  26 July 2012

 Video footage  1 minute 3 secs

LINKS TO RADIO INTERVIEWS

ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler

RN Books and Arts with Fiona Gruber and Meow Meow

774 ABC Conversation hour with John Faine

 

Photos Lighthouse Berlin

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128901540@N07/with/15705059209/