1933: Eine Nacht Im Kabarett draws parallels between the Weimar Republic and modern times
Writer/performer Susanna Mulvihill: 'Popular feeling today is not removed from the origins of the Third Reich'
Susanna Mulvihill is one of Scotland’s more intriguing singer-songwriters, staging cabaret-style performances and working with Edinburgh’s Tightlaced Theatre, an ensemble that is dedicated to new writing. Her first full-length play, 1933: Eine Nacht Im Kabarett sees her renew a relationship with Tightlaced while looking back at cabaret’s favourite era: the Weimar Republic.
‘The Berlin cabaret was a melting point for ideas, sedition and satire: there was no censorship and a mirror could be held up to the follies of society,’ she says. ‘Our play uses that era to show the complacency and disaffection of the people, which we now know ultimately led to terrible consequences, and how popular feeling today is not removed from the origins of the Third Reich. Plus we like corsets.’
Set at the moment of Hitler’s ascent to power, 1933 is an ambitious blend of cabaret, immersive theatre and new writing. ‘The play can be regarded in two parts,’ Mulvihill continues. ‘There’s the cabaret show and the main drama which takes place in and around the auditorium, allowing the audience to be fully immersed in the ideas and world of 1933 Berlin.’
But more than reflecting on past dangers, Mulvihill sees immediate relevance. ‘Since the financial crash of 2008 there have been similarities between the end of Weimar and what is happening in Europe today. For instance, in Greece the rise of the Golden Dawn movement shows worrying parallels with the increase in popularity the Nazis experienced after the 1929 stock market crash. Closer to home, if you open up certain newspapers you'll see articles filled with anti-European sentiment.’
Promising ‘very raunchy’ skits, a rotation of burlesque performers and a script that examines the rise of Nazism, Tightlaced’s collaboration with Mulvihill offers a glimpse into the history of political cabaret and the future possibilities of cabaret influenced performance.
Summerhall, Edinburgh, Wed 22 Jan–Sun 2 Feb.