Three years ago, at a nursing home in Munich, a very old lady passed away. Longevity aside, (she was 106), the achievements of Brunhilde Pomsel were pretty modest, although she was undoubtedly a wiz at shorthand. How then did she come to emerge from the rubble near Hitler’s bunker waving a white pillow case to the approaching Russian troops in April 1945?
British playwright Christopher Hampton has fashioned an extraordinary theatrical tour-de-force based on testimony this resolutely ‘apolitical’ woman, who worked as a secretary to Joseph Goebbels, gave to Austrian documentary makers at the sprightlier age of 103. One of the last actively involved witnesses to the rise, fall and aftermath of the Third Reich, Brunhilde is intelligent and likeable, honest and credible. She doesn’t hide her youthful ignorance at the regime’s atrocities, her awe at finding herself at the heart of power, nor does she show any false remorse. Her refusal to think too hard about what was going on and focus instead on her own life, raises confronting questions for contemporary audiences. As social catastrophe creeps closer and only united action can stop it, how do we recognise that moment? How do we seize it?
For the national premiere of this highly demanding ninety-minute solo, Adelaide has the rare opportunity to witness the work of our finest stage performer, Robyn Nevin, under the direction of Neil Armfield.
Event additional information
Co-produced by Adelaide Festival and The Gordon Frost Organisation.
Based on the documentary film A German Life by Christian Krönes, Olaf Műller, Roland Schrotthofer and Florian Weigensamer / Blackbox Film & Media Productions (www.blackboxfilm.at), A German Life was first presented at the Bridge Theatre, London, on 6 April 2019.