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August, 2004 - Nr. 8


The Editor
Vorsicht Satire!
Rachel Seilern
Dear Mom
Saying "Good-bye"
KW & Beyond
210. & 150. Jahresfeier
Herwig Wandschneider
Dance Students Graduate
Clinton in Germany
German Fest Milwaukee
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Health Newsletter
From Pensions to Hotels
Anton Kuerti Performs
2004-2005 Season
Cabaret from Leipzig
Chinese Are Coming
Frida Kahlo Remembered
"Best Word" Jury
No German Beer at World Cup
Bundesliga Attendance Tops
Hopes On Klinsmann
Berlin's Olympic Stadium
Lots of Free Time
Free Trade Deal
On The Road
Surf's Up in Munich
Plattduetsche in Long Island
QM2 Stops In Hamburg
Solar Cell Break-Through

Kabarett Leipziger Pfeffermühle…

  …awakens a bit of nostalgic recollection in me. I grew up in Leipzig, since I was four years old and left for the American zone – for Bavaria - when the Russians arrived, after the war. Shortly thereafter – 50 years ago – the Pfeffermühle (Pepper Mill) started up in downtown Leipzig, near the famous St. Thomas Church – famous primarily because of the "Thomaskantor" Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – and began to dispense a little ‘pepper’ to enliven the dreary existence of the people of this illustrious city.

They had not much to laugh about, during these years under communist rule in the GDR and any entertainment was welcome. Especially if it contained a little ‘pepper’, sprinkled on the political life. Thus it is one of the oldest, but it also became one of the most famous cabarets of postwar Germany.

When I was living in the Munich area, I still had contact with Leipzig, since the rest of my family were still there, and I had heard of this ‘peppermill’ and now we have a chance to enjoy it here in Toronto – at the Hansa Haus. (See the ad)

In a write-up by Hardy Graupner for the "Deutsche Welle" he mentions "that up to the inglorious end of the GDR (DDR) the cabaret had to walk the tightrope between public appreciation and censorship on a governmental level. Some of its shows were forbidden because they were too critical. The permanent control however sharpened the senses for the things you could do in a country of limited impossibilities".

In retrospect, that makes a lot of sense.

Since 1989, and the political changes, a new direction in satirical work was embraced. Political satire was no longer subject number one and other areas were found were the cabaret can be critical – without fear of reprisals.

Focusing on the frailties of human interaction offers an extensive field for satire that time and again applies to our own experiences and is recognized as such – even though we sometimes will not readily admit to it. Making fun of it usually entertains, softens the blow and makes us appreciate that our apparent shortcomings are not just ours, enabling us to laugh at them and ourselves. Here you are permitted to do just that - laugh at yourself, and at the human condition in general!

That is most likely one of the reasons why the ‘Peppermill’ has such enthusiastic and numerous audiences in all of Germany and will now spread some of its pepper here in Toronto – true to the proverb "He who laughs last – laughs the longest" and, if laughter is the best medicine, we will all leave this intellectually stimulating performance a little wiser and healthier!

The person most attracted to a witty cabaret performance is said to be a different human species – referred to by the artists as "Homo Gaudius" (The operative word here being "Gaudi" meaning: having fun).

Even in Rome, many, many years ago, the people demanded "panem et circenses" – bread and circus, to make them forget their human condition at that time. We haven’t actually changed all that much since then. Thus the ‘Pfeffermühle provides not only a ‘spice’ but also an essential nutrient to our continual life-experience! See you there!

Dick Altermann


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