Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lulu's debut. . . on this day in 1905

On this day in history, Lulu made her debut in Vienna.

The premiere of Frank Wedekind’s Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box), a restricted performance due to difficulties with the censor, had already taken place in Nuremberg  in 1904. A second staging, in Vienna, was arranged at the instigation of the critic and satirist Karl Kraus. This second stage production took place at the Trianon Theater in Vienna, Austria on May 29, 1905.

The production was notable, as was the cast. It featured dramatist Frank Wedekind as Jack the Ripper, Tilly Newes (Franks Wedekin's wife, Tilly Wedekind) as Lulu, Arnold Korff as Dr. Hilti (Korff also played the Elder Count Osdorff in the 1929 film, Diary of a Lost Girl), and Irma Karczewska as “Bob.” The play’s producer, Karl Kraus, played Kungu Poti.

Who was Irma Karczewska? She was a striking personality and noted beauty who was involved in an erotic triangle with Kraus and Sigmund Freud's first biographer, the pioneering psychologist Fritz Wittels. Read all about it in Freud and the Child Woman: The Memoirs of Fritz Wittels, edited by Edward Timms, published by Yale University Press in 1995.

According to the publisher, Yale University Press, "In his memoirs, Wittels writes frankly and vividly about the erotic subculture of fin-de-siècle Vienna, early controversies within the Psychoanalytic Society, and the interactions between the two. Freud himself plays a crucial role in the story, and the erotic triangle in which Kraus, Wittels, and Irma Karczewska were involved is shown to have impinged directly on the activities of the famous Society."

One wonders who might have been in the audience on that historic day. Perhaps Sigmund Freud? If not, was he aware of or had he read Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays?

On a not unrelated note, it is known that members of Freud's circle had read and written about Margarete Bohme's famous book, The Diary of a Lost Girl.

Also, on this day in 1967, G.W. Pabst, who directed Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, died in Austria.

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