Dr Gemma Regan
I'm a writer, arts reviewer, a scientist, a UFO researcher and a Radio host for 4ZZZ 102.1FM with my show The Witching Hour exploring the paranormal, conspiracy and the esoteric. www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/the-witching-hour
Breaking social taboos with a stunning theatrical experience
An incredible, captivating performance which tests and then smashes your preconceptions!
Bronski Beat's 1984 song, 'I Feel Love' is not how you expect a play about the life of an eccentric 65-year-old German transgender woman in the 20th century to begin. I Am My Own Wife tests your preconceptions and breaks through them, like breaking through the Berlin Wall with a sledge hammer, brick by brick.
Doug Wright (author of Quills and Grey Gardens), an American award-winning playwright, hears about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, born as Lothar Berfelde, a transvestite who was awarded the Ribbon of Merit for service to the German Bundersrepublik in 1992, and begins a dialogue, meeting and interviewing her at her home in Mahlsdorf in East Berlin. The story unfolds through snippets from a series of hundreds of hours of interviews, as the audience learns of her achievements, struggles and tribulations. She is an enigma who should not have survived two of the most oppressive regimes of the 20th century, the Nazis and the Communists, whilst staying true to herself by breaking social taboos and living as a German homosexual, transgender woman.
Charlotte von Mahlsdorf remains a significant female in European History, establishing the Grunderzeit Museum inside the von Mahlsdorf estate in East Berlin in 1963, just as the Berlin Wall was built. By salvaging precious memories and historical artefacts from before the Nazi oppression, she hoped to educate survivors about the earlier, more pleasant era of skilful craftwork, rather than the later era of hatred and discrimination. It is through her love for these objects that she tells her story, beginning with Thomas Edison's cylinder phonograph.
The acting ability of Ben Gerrard as Charlotte is stunning and captivating, for which he was nominated for a Best Actor, Sydney Theatre Award. Ben instantly takes command of the stage as scenes from Charlotte's controversial life unfold with unexpected twists and turns. He plays more than 30 characters, transitioning between speaking German, English and American, male and female, and old and young in the blink of an eye. Yet, the transitions are seamless and you instantly forget it is a solo performance. I Am My Own Wife is the winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. It is an intricate and poignant tale of a survivor who adapts under two oppressive regimes whilst still breaking social taboos and is an incredible theatrical experience!