The next production at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, running Feb. 7 to March 31, is Maria Arndt, which the theatre describes as "a lost classic by writer Elsa Bernstein."
Lost is right. Though the daughter of a famous father and a well-known dramaturg and playwright in her native Germany, Bernstein is almost completely forgotten today. Her father was Heinrich Porges, a conductor for Richard Wagner. Bernstein wrote under the pen name of Ernst Rosmer, creating Maria Ernst in 1908. Though her father converted from Judaism to Christianity to fully assimilate into German culture, it did the family little good. Bernstein was sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezin in 1942 when she was well past 70. She emerged alive, but almost blind.
Maria Arndt was translated by Curt Columbus with Tina Landau, who will direct the production. The play tells of a mother who is forced to abandon her dreams so that her daughter may live a free life.
The cast is headed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Molly Regan, who is joined by Bradley Armacost, Marilynn Bogetich, Greta Sidwll Honold, Christopher Innvar, Brad Eric Johnson, Brett Korn and Courtney Shaughnessy.
Landau last directed The Ballad of Little Jo at Steppenwolf—the company's first foray into musical theatre. Other Steppenwolf credits include The Berlin Circle and Space. Columbus also translated Uncle Vanya in a version that appeared at the Chicago theatre in 2001.
Tickets are $35-$50. Call (312) 335-1650.
—By Robert Simonson