Playwrights’ Corner

Hannah Moscovitch

Hannah Moscovitch

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Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired East of Berlin?

I read books of the testimonies of the children of Nazis. The testimonies of the children I read were based on interviews conducted by a Jewish journalist and a psychologist who were the children of Holocaust survivors. The psychological circumstance of these children of Nazis during the interview process seemed theatrical to me. Not only did the child have to reveal the details of their often painful relationship with a loved/hated parent, but they had to reveal those details to a victim of their parent. It meant that the testimonies became either an abject apology or a self- defense. I thought it would be interesting to put that onstage: the son of an SS doctor telling his story to an audience whom he believed was hostile to him.

How has the script developed since East of Berlin was first produced at Tarragon?

I’ve rewritten a little between the premier and the remount. I wanted to polish the dialogue and make a few moments in the play clearer. It’s a luxury to get to go back after an opening and further develop the piece using the discoveries I made during its run. I haven’t made substantial changes to the plot, but I have adjusted the relationship between two of the play’s three characters.

What has the experience of revisiting East of Berlin with the original cast members and director been like?

Normally rehearsing a play is a painful as well as a pleasurable process. I spend a lot of time before each premier asking myself if the play I’ve written has any value. It’s a valid question but it’s an uncomfortable one. With a remount like this, I am freed of those type of questions and I can just concentrate on the art.

What have you found to be the largest challenge or more difficult part of the entire process from our Playwrights Unit to the remount and tour?

There have been a series of challenges, of course, but mostly I feel very grateful. I worked with collaborators who I feel a great deal of artistic kinship with and who I deeply admire on this project. And I feel very lucky to be working at Tarragon. Tarragon remounts and tours work, which contributes to the sustainability of playwriting as a career.

How do you feel this piece fits into your body of work?

It’s the first full-length play I’ve written, so my body of work is limited to East of Berlin and the shorter pieces: The Russian Play, Essay, Mexico City and USSR. It’s hard to comment on your own preoccupations as a writer. I tend towards dark humour, I use coming of age stories and love stories to write about broad systems of thought. I like unusual slants on old topics, complex stories, and unheard voices. I tend towards theatrical stories, ones that involve presentational elements such as direct address. East of Berlin feels like a part of the process of me discovering how I write plays.

How many plays are you currently developing, and how diversified do you need to be as a playwright?

I’m developing more plays than I should be at one time these days. I don’t know how diversified you have to be as a playwright first hard. Right now I’m just playwriting but I imagine I’ll migrate towards other mediums at some point.

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