Together with the Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe in Nottingham
„English Views“ were the theme as a cultural accompanying-programme for the opening of the „Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge“ in Nottingham.
From 2015 on the new bridge for the Nottingham tram system, which Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup inaugurated on 17th October 2014, will connect the outer boroughs with the medieval City Center of Nottingham.
There the old Castle sits enthroned above the landscape of the legendary Sherwood Forest in which Robin Hood, the „noble“ robber, hid away his gang.
The Castle which was rebuilt several times, was the former shelter of the obnoxious Sheriff, who fought the outlaw fiercly but without avail.
The victorious robber is still celebrated as the „biggest criminal of all times“ and also appeared in person at the reception organised by the City Council.
The red sandstone rock, on which the Castle is located, is perforated like a Swiss Cheese and forms a labyrinth of unimaginable size below ground.
In one of the openings at the south side a secret passage ends, in which (supposedly) the oldest pub of England called „Ye olde Trip“ to Jerusalem has settled in.
Beer has been served to the brim since 1189 in its booths, corners, winding stair-cases three floors high, passages with big openings, which are covered with thick long cobwebs. Mostly the beer is drunk while standing up.
It was intended that for the festive musical eveningprogramm at St. Peters Church, two literary events would take place at the two universities in Nottingham.
Both events were supposed to take a closer look at the view of a German on England and the view of an Englishman on Germany.
To be more precise it should have been about James Boswell looking at Karlsruhe during his „great“ journey through Germany and Switzerland in 1764.
As Prof. Dr. Schmidt -Bergmann, the chairman of the Literarische Gesellschaft Karlsruhe, who wanted to take over the part of James Boswell was not available for health reasons, Bertold Brecht had to fill in.
This was in so far no problem, because Brecht, who had been only twice on a short trip to London, was unthinkable without England. His work is veritably wrought through with English Literature: from Marlowe and Shakespeare to Percy B. Shelley, Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle to Bernard Saw, Rudyard Kipling and last but not least Edgar Wallace, being the crime novel lover he was.
Also Brecht’s most successful opus and not just that one, is set in England. From him for example we learn, that the famous dead man on the beach (in German=Strand) is not close to the sea, but in the middle of London: „Strand“ is one of the main roads of the City. Here the never solved murder happened in front of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897, which went down in world literature as the Dreigroschenoper (1928) written by a German and will out live time as a legend.
That Brecht was no endeavoured subject for this event was proven by the wellknown emeritus Professor of German Studies and Critical Theory Steve Gile, among other author of several books about theater plays by Brecht and other theoretical publications.
Steve Gile received his german guests at the time-honoured theatre „The Hemsley“ and talked of present events on Brecht in England.
From July 2014 on, for example, one can see among other the staged poetry programm „Brecht and Steffin“, „Love in a Time of Exile and War“ in Oxford , London and other cities of England performing to a full house.
So it was not suprising, that the incitements about the English also often comical views of the writer, who were presented in a nonchalantly and amusing way by Professor Dr. Jan Knopf from the „Department Bertolt Brecht“ at the KIT, caused spirited discussions and filled the whole afternoon without a problem, although only the „one“ point of view came up.
The other literary afternoon, which took place at the Trend University and attracted mainly young people, was devoted to Brecht of the 1920s and his writings like „Man Equals Man“ or „The jungle of the cities“ which already addressed up-to-date subjects like „shopping“, the human anonymity as well as the question about the mental state of individuals. It presented opportunity to discuss the problems of today. The résumé is that the English students and lecturers also found interest and pleasure in this (Karlsruhe) friendship-relation.
Bridges between the island and the continent were also built by the musical events at the venerable St. Peter’s Church.
Jeanette La-Deur -on piano- accompanied the international renowned tenor Bernhard Berchtold with songs by Beethoven, Williams, Britten and -as a highlight- by the Karlsruhe composer Margarete Schweikert.
The blind pianist Martin Engel, lecturer at the Musical Academy of Karlsruhe, delighted his audience with musical works by Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin and Schumann. After the „Revolutionary-Étitude“ by Chopin as an encore he had the chance to autograph his first CD.
Those „Karlsruhe Cultural Days“ created an impressive accompanying-programm for the inauguration of the „Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge“.
Unfortunately this programm did not receive the expected and deserved response. A follow-up of this event, demanded by all people involved, should require a visible participation of the persons in charge in both twin-cities.
Joachim Klaus (Chairman of Deutsch-Englischer-Freundeskreis e.V., Karlsruhe)
Jan Knopf (Head of Department Berthold Brecht, KIT Karlsruhe)