Born to a Jewish family in Kiev, raised in Baku, and converted to Islam in Berlin, Essad Bey’s (né Lew Nussimbaum) (1905–1942) orientalist writings reached a huge audience in the Weimar Republic. Although his novels and essays depicting life in locales such as Azerbaijan and the Caucasus helped shape notions of a mysterious and romantic East in the German public imagination, his own incredible life may have been the most fantastical story he left us. Michael Lahr will give a lecture on Essad Bey’s life and times, followed by a dramatic reading of selected works (in German with English subtitles) by the actor Gregorij H. von Leitis.
About the Presenters
Michael Lahr is is the Executive Director of the Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive, Vice Chairman of the Erwin Piscator Award Society, co-director of the Elysium Festival in Bernried, and member of the advisory board of the Nietzsche Forum Munich and the Leon Askin Forum Vienna. He is also the Program Director and Associate Artistic Director of Elysium - Between Two Continents.
Lahr is a co-author of the volume of essays Bilder des Menschen (Images of Man), to which he contributed an article entitled "Der Jüdische Humanismus und das Konzept der Veranwortung" (Jewish Humanism and the Concept of Responsibility). His essay about "Nietzsches Einfluss auf die französische Gegenwartsphilosophie: Spurensuche im Werk Michel Foucaults" (Nietzsche's Influence on French contemporary Philosophy: Looking for Traces in the Work of Michel Foucault) was published in the yearbook of the Nietzsche Forum Munich e.V. A specialist on Erwin Piscator, founder of the Political and Epic Theater, he curated the exhibition Erwin Piscator: Political Theater in Exile, which has been shown in Bernried, New York, Catania, Salzburg, and Munich.
Gregorij H. von Leitis has been working as a director at various theaters in Europe and the USA for more than 50 years. He is also the Artistic Director of Elysium - Between Two Continents. In 1985 he was the first non-American to receive the New York Theatre Club Prize for his direction of Bertolt Brecht's The Jewish Wife. In 2003, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by German President Johannes Rau for his merits in promoting international understanding by means of art. In April 2016, the Austrian Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer bestowed on him the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art. In recent years, Gregorij von Leïtis has been increasingly active as a speaker; through reading programs and literary-musical collages, he has been active in Germany and abroad against hate (Hate is a Failure of Imagination), for the preservation of democracy (Defending Democracy), and for environmental protection (After Us, the Deluge?), among other things.