Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2018
In 1923, the director Berthold Viertel and I founded The Troupe in Berlin, with Viertel as Managing Director and myself as Assistant Director. The dramaturg was Heinrich Fischer, recommended to us by Siegfried Jacobsohn, Editor of The Stage (later called The World Stage).
The inflAtion gathered speed. Actors went over to fi lm for some degree of security against the daily devaluation. Members of The Troupe agreed to a contract of one year, during which time they were not allowed to shoot a single day of fi lm. They worked, one and all, for equal pay and a dividend of the theater's net profit per season. Why they did this is hard to understand today. They were seasoned professionals who didn't take on only one engagement at a time, but signed contracts with several first-rate theaters: Rudolf Forster, Sybille Binder, Fritz Kortner, his wife Johanna Hofer, Lothar Müthel, Heinz Hilpert, Aribert Wäscher, Leonhard Steckel, Erna Schöller, Paul Bildt, and Walter Franck, among others. The revolutionary goal of The Troupe was to build an ensemble that made no commercial concessions, that didn't call itself a “star theater,” and that didn't tolerate filming during the season. Our business manager was a State Theater civil servant who had cancelled his contract, with pension rights, in order to come to us. He was married, had children, and owned a house with a garden in a Berlin suburb. He was small and unprepossessing. When he smiled, he revealed a blue front tooth that gave his expression a certain morbidity.
After a few months of balancing our empty accounts and struggling in vain with the financial chaos, created in part by our director's artistic fanaticism with night rehearsals and the delays these caused, the business manager finally left us. He sold his house and garden and leased the Theater am Nollendorfplatz in order to launch his girlfriend, a lousy soprano. He let his correctly trimmed hair grow long, took to carrying a monocle on a black band, went broke in two months, and hanged himself.