NEW YORK, May 24 -- Schools, wine stores, living rooms--these are the venues where George Bartenieff, one of the most respected actors of his generation, and his Obie-winning playwright/director/wife, Karen Malpede, are recreating "I Will Bear Witness: The Early Years of the Hitler Regime" (2002), a play adapted for the stage the diaries from the diaries of of Victor Klemperer. This one-person play, tracing the rise of Hitler, premiered at CSC Rep and played to acclaim in New York, London, Berlin, Washington DC and toured Europe and the U.S. for three years. 

Malpede and Bartenieff have created the 40 minute piece that has been performing in living rooms, and last night in an art gallery in Woodstock, and next week at Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene. The text is focused on the early years of the Nazi regime and its echos with today are powerful and powerfully felt by audiences, who have time for important dialogue after the piece. The piece recounts the time of Hitler’s election through events following Kristallnacht. Klemperer records in minute detail the manifold reactions of Jewish and Christian neighbors and friends, their shock, despair, rage and acts of resistance.

Performances now, in 2017, are usually in someone's private residence, playing for an invited audience, who are asked if anybody knows somebody who wants to host the next one. It spreads like samizdat. This ongoing tour has already played living rooms in three Boroughs and, as of this writing, has racked up eight performances. Beside living rooms, venues have included a school and an art gallery in Woodstock. Next week, it will be staged at Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene. A performance at HB Studio in the West Village is upcoming.

Commentary by one witness
by photographer Matthew Weinstein - May 18, 2017

"The playwright, actor and producers team of Karen Malpede and George Bartenieff has reprised a play they first produced in 2002. In it, Bartenieff plays Victor Klemperer, a German Jew, who writes a journal of the day-to-day ascension to power of the Hitler regime. The diary, with its horrifying details, covers events as observed by Klemperer beginning with Hitler's election through the end of the war. Bartenieff's consummate acting skills allows us to feel Klemperer's increasing dread as the Nazis slowly increase the antisemitism , the malevolence, the mob violence and repression that ultimately leads to the holocaust and genocide. Klemperer, at first disbelieving that this transformation can be a permanent phenomenon in the Germany in which he had been so comfortable, is ultimately horrified and driven to fear for his life as regulation after regulation is promulgated against the Jews, stripping them of their citizenship and humanity. This is certainly a play for these times and urgently raises the question: Could it happen here? A lively discussion followed the presentation. Thanks goes to Malpede and Bartenieff for bringing the play back to audiences at this juncture when democracy seems to be hanging in the balance. People are invited to offer their homes for presentation of the play so that wider audiences can be exposed to the challenging issues it raises. Tonight's production as at the homes of Stacey and Matt Weinstein. The play was proceeded by a buffet of snacks and followed by desserts prepared by Stacey."


George Bartenieff (actor) began his theater career at the age of 14 in "The Whole World Over," directed by Harold Clurman.  He has acted on Broadway (“Merchant of Venice”, “Fiddler on the Roof"), Off and Off-off, at the NYSF, and regional theaters in hundreds of new and classic plays.  He was co-founder of Theater for the New City and co-founder of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. He and Karen Malpede adapted for the stage the diaries of Victor Klemperer, "I Will Bear Witness," as a one-person play that played to acclaim in New York, London, Berlin, Washington DC and toured Europe and the U.S. for three years.  He is winner of four Village Voice Obie awards, including Sustained Achievement and acting awards for his performances in Malpede's "Us" and "I Will Bear Witness," a Drama Desk award for the ensemble acting in David Hare’s “Stuff Happens” and a Philly as Best Actor for “Tuesday’s With Morrie” at the Wilmington Repertory Co. In 1995, he and Malpede co-founded Theater Three Collaborative.

Karen Malpede (playwright and director) is author/director of 17 plays including "Us," "Better People," "Blue Heaven" (all presented at TNC), "Another Life" (National Theatre of Kosovo, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, Irondale, TNC, RADA Festival, London), "The Beekeeper's Daughter" (Dionysia Festival, Italy, Theater Row Theater), "Prophecy" (NY Theatre Workshop, New End Theatre, London) and “I Will Bear Witness” (Classic Stage Co., New End, London, English Theatre, Berlin). She is editor of "Acts of War: Iraq & Afghanistan in Seven Plays," "Women in Theater: Compassion & Hope" and "Three Works by the Open Theater" and author of “A Monster Has Stolen the Sun and Other Plays.” Other plays and short fiction are published by Applause, Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Healing Muse and elsewhere. Her writings on theater have been published in The New York Times, TDR, Torture Magazine, Howelround, and elsewhere. A McKnight National Playwrights' and NYFA fellow, she co-founded Theater Three Collaborative in 1995. She has taught dramatic literature, playwriting and writing at Smith College, New York University and the CUNY-Graduate Center's Continuing Education program. She is currently on the theater faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Theater Three Collaborative, Inc. was founded in 1995 by the late Lee Nagrin, George Bartenieff and Karen Malpede to create, develop and produce poetic, character-driven plays on crucial topics of the day. The organization also creates and hosts Festivals of Conscience, talks and talkbacks with public intellectuals, activists and specialists in the fields of each play.

To book a performance, write: or call 718-789-5404.

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