Letter written to JEWISH WEEK, April 18, 2002, by Leonard J. Lehrman
Andorra and Roundheads
To the Editor:
In Ted Merwin's April 12 review of the new production of Max Frisch's "Andorra,"
in Michael Feingold's English translation,
Bertolt Brecht's play (with music by Hanns Eisler), "Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe,"
is cited as one that "explores the theme of racial conflict in a small town."
As the translator and director of that work's U.S. premiere (at Cornell in 1973,
revived in concert by Manhattan's West-Park Chamber Society as part of the Eisler Centennial in 1998),
I can assure you that this characterization is somewhat inaccurate.
The play deals with government corruption and racial politics in and around Luma, Yahoo,
a Swiftian corruption of Lima, Peru, in which the characters bear close resemblance to those of
Franco's Spain and Hitler's Third Reich in Germany. Its production history has been
as rocky as that of "Andorra" in the U.S., beginning with an amateur production in Copenhagen in 1936,
and culminating in two widely differing adaptations in East and West Berlin in 1983-84.
Michael Feingold himself essayed a translation of it, which his mentor Martha Schlamme rejected
in favor of mine when she workshopped it at Aspen in 1981.
The work has yet to receive a full, professional production with orchestra in the U.S ,
which it richly deserves.
Leonard J. Lehrman